February 2011

by greenwater on February 25, 2011

I’m off the water today but I’ve been here, there and everywhere over the past week. The few days I spent on the Smith River this week were pretty decent fishing. After the derby finished up on Saturday the pressure was really light and there were some willing fish around. With the cold temps the afternoon bite was better than the morning and my second pass tended to be better than my first. They were still all nice bright fish which surprises me a little as normally we start to see some runbacks creeping around this time of year. The grade was all over the board with fish up to 15 pounds combined with a good showing of 2 year olds in the 3 to 5 pound range. There’s still a few hatchery fish around as well like the one in the picture that Rick Renard bagged with me.

The southern rivers have been in and out of shape with the rain we’ve had but the cold weather has brought a lot of the precipitation down as snow in the hills and so runoff has been minimal. The South Fork of the Eel came around for a few days above Garberville and had a mix of bright fish and downers that were eager to grab a back-trolled plug or a side-drifted bait. The rain we got on Thursday knocked the color out again but it didn’t get very high and it will bounce back in a day or two if the rain stays away.

The Mad is another that greened up for a few days this week before last nights showers but the day I spent on it only turned up a few bites on plugs. Despite having a slow day on it, I definitely don’t think this one is finished for the year. I’m sure it was just a slow bite day or a little gap in the run but there will still be more fish coming.

The forecast is calling for more rain next week which will knock out everything down south and send me back to the Smith River. Rising water up there will bring in a fresh batch of steelhead and the pressure should be light. It always seems like angler interest starts to wane before the fish do and March is typically a great fishing month with plenty of action and solitude.


by greenwater on February 19, 2011

The wet weather has finally returned dropping as much as 6 inches in some of the wetter spots. Most of our rivers are blown out but are dropping into shape quickly as much of the precipitation came down as snow and is stuck to the hills rather than running out to sea. I’ve been back up on the Smith River as for now it’s the only game in town. While fishing hasn’t been red hot, it has been solid. Yesterday I didn’t hear how other boats fared but we hooked 4 in two passes from the forks to the Hiouchi bridge landing all of them. The river was in perfect shape at just over 10 ft on the upper gauge. There was a derby going on so the pressure was particularly heavy but I think as the number of boats thin out scores will climb. I’ll be back up the Smith for the next couple days but I’ll most likely be back down to one of our Southern Rivers by Tuesday.

The picture is of Lee Jordan of Redwood City with a beautiful hatchery hen he caught with me on the lower Trinity just before the rain set in. It grabbed a plug on our first pass of the morning. We added three more to his tally before the day was over. Lee has been fishing our rivers for over 50 years and came up to celebrate his 84th birthday with some time on the water. Happy Birthday Lee.


by greenwater on February 7, 2011

Still no rain in sight here on the North Coast but despite low flows the bite has held up well on the Eel. We’ve had to start making some adjustments to our tactics in the clearing water but if you play your cards right there are still plenty of gorgeous steelhead to be had. My baits are getting smaller and I’m starting to have to be more conscious about staying off the fish but with the right approach it’s still good fishing.

Up north on the Smith River fishing things are getting just a little too low to be a solid option. While there are a few fish being caught up there, it’s far from good.

The picture is of Jim Talbot of Whitethorn Ca. Jim’s been living on the Mattole River for over 15 years but hadn’t got the opportunity to land his first steelhead until he bagged this beautiful Mainstem Eel hen.