December 2010

by greenwater on December 16, 2010

It’s been a wet week here on the North Coast with a steady procession of weather systems pounding the area. The Smith had it’s biggest spike of the season hitting 18 feet on the Jed Smith Park gauge. Over the past few days the river has stayed a little too big to really be able to side drift effectively so plunking has been the name of the game for the boats still out trying. Despite the tough conditions, a few more salmon have been caught but they’ve been scattered at best. Some steelhead are hitting nets as well but not big numbers and all the water makes it difficult to get a read on what’s really there. My prediction is when the river drops we’ll see our first good scores of the season on them.

Our southern rivers have for the most part stayed high and unfishable through the past week but we did get a brief window on the South Fork Eel. I grabbed a couple buddies and headed down for a little exploratory trip around Piercy. We found perfect conditions but it was just a little early for many fish to have made it up this far. We landed one steelhead midmorning which would turn out to be the only bite of the day. I talked to a few other boats and tough fishing was the word from everyone.

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by greenwater on December 10, 2010

Here’s a picture of what may very well be my last salmon of the 2010 season. This morning I’m sitting around the house watching a light rain fall and breaking down my back bounce rods and hanging up my kwickfish. The bite has continued to get tougher on the Smith river over the past few days until yesterday when it came to a screeching halt. The day before we worked from dawn until dark for 2 bites. The first was a 6 pound steelhead we caught side drifting and the second was the 30 pound salmon in the picture that came back bouncing roe. The next morning the river was rising slightly from the little bit of rain we had the day before and the few fish left in the system were completely lock jawed.

I’ve rescheduled my trips for the next few days and we’re waiting out better times which are just around the corner. My prediction is the first big push of winter steelhead on the Smith are just one big rain away. As for the southern rivers, I know a lot of them already have good numbers of steelhead but the steady light rains have kept them just a little high. I know of some good scores of hatchery steelhead on the Mad River the last time it was in shape and while I haven’t heard any first hand reports, I know there’s fish pushing into the Eel. While it’s sad to see the end of such a fantastic salmon season, I find myself starting to daydream about big, chrome steelhead erupting from jade green water. Every dark cloud truly does have a silver lining.

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by greenwater on December 3, 2010

King season has continued to roll along on the Smith River although the last rain seemed to bring fewer fish. As we come into December we can expect the salmon to begin to taper off and we’ll start to see more and more steelhead enter on every tide. While the bite hasn’t been red hot, we’ve still managed to put limits of quality kings in the boat each day.

Monday I fished down from Jed Smith park in perfect conditions and we hooked 4 fish landing three of them, all 25 to 30 pounds. Tuesday the bite got really tough. Three hours into the morning I had fished through a bunch of my best spots and hadn’t had a bite and I knew we were going to have to dig deep to put the day together. It looked like my guys were getting concerned so we pulled over and had a little team meeting. The gist of it was it isn’t going to be easy today but if we fish hard and stay focused it’ll happen and I’m game to fish until dark if we have to. The very next hole the left kwickfish rod got buried and after a short battle a 25 pound chromer was in the box. One down one to go. Our second bite didn’t come until 3:00 pm but finally a rod loaded up while backbouncing eggs in a fast pocket just above Ruby Park and our second fish was in the boat.

Reports of good numbers of chromers milling around the estuary make me hopeful for one more good push of kings and I already know of several steelhead being caught despite the fact there hasn’t been much effort put into looking for them. Most likely I’ll start doing some combo trips in the next week where we fish for both. Getting a shot at two species in the same day on the Smith is always fun.

The picture is of Dean Neitz that fished with me last week with a dime bright, sea lice laden 35 pound king he caught at Bailey Hole backbouncing roe.

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