Late-season steelhead anglers have plenty of options

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LOWER EEL CHROME - Ana Gonzalez of Point Reyes Station landed a nice winter steelhead Saturday on the lower Eel River. Conditions were perfect over the weekend, and the lower Eel will continue to be a good option through April.
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BY KENNY PRIEST

EUREKA – If you’re looking to get that one last steelhead trip in, this could be the time to do it. All the rivers are green and have plenty of water. The main stem Eel and Chetco have good color and ample water, and that’s probably where you’ll find the majority of the boats. The Smith is low and clear, but still producing for the few anglers still trying. The Mad is turning green and is another good option. Reports from all rivers are the same: Fishing isn’t great. If you get a chance at a couple fish, consider that a good day. But now with hungry downers on their way back to the salt, the opportunities to hook a few should improve. With sunshine predicted through midweek, this is a golden opportunity to get in on some late-season steelhead action.

The lower Klamath is in perfect shape and providing some of the best steelhead action on the coast. Boats side-drifting roe and yarn or soft beads from the Glen to Johnson are catching a handful of bright winter steelhead per trip. Flows are predicted range from 10,000 to 12,000 this week, and should continue to fish well. The river flows on Sunday were 10,600 cfs at the mouth of the Klamath, 5,000 cfs at Orleans, and 1,700 cfs farther upstream in the Seiad Valley.

Winter steelhead fishing on the lower Trinity slowed this past week. Boats drifting the Willow Creek area are getting a shot a couple of fish per trip. There are still a few half pounders around. The flows were running at 3,200 cfs on the Hoopa gauge as of Sunday, and holding steady. Snowmelt should keep the river in good shape.

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The Mad River was in great this weekend, but the fishing wasn’t stellar. Most of the action continues to be near the hatchery where a few bright fish along with some downers are being caught. Conditions will be excellent right up until it closes on the 31st.

In the Eel River system, the South Fork dipped under 600 cfs over the weekend. The river is clearing and most of the fish will be in the deeper slots. Boat traffic was light over the weekend with fishing reports tough to come by. Most anglers have moved to other rivers. The main Eel was in great shape over the weekend, but very few boats were on the water. The few boats drifting below the confluence were getting two to four steelhead per day, mostly downers. There’s still plenty of half-pounders and bluebacks around to make for a great day. The Van Duzen was also in prime condition over the weekend, but not many anglers are still trying. A few bank anglers were fishing the lower end where there’s plenty of bank access.

After this Wednesday, March 31, the South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, Mattole, Mad, Redwood Creek and Chetco will all be closed to fishing. A few others however, will remain open. The main stem Eel, from its mouth to the South Fork is open to fishing all year. From the mouth to Fulmor Road, only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used from April 1 through the Friday, May 21. Only barbless hooks may be used from May 22 through Mar. 31, 2022. From Fulmor Road to the South Fork, it’s open all year. From April 1 through Sept. 30, only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used. Only barbless hooks may be used from Oct. 1 through Mar. 31, 2022.

The main stem of the Smith will remain open through the end of April from its mouth to the confluence with the Middle and South Forks. The Middle Fork will also remain open through April from its mouth to Patrick’s Creek. The South Fork is open through April as well, from its mouth upstream approximately 1,000 feet to the County Road (George Tryon) bridge and Craig’s Creek to Jones Creek. Only barbless hooks may be used from Sept. 1 through Apr. 30. The bag limit remains the same at two hatchery steelhead per day.

Sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers are open to fishing, but are subject to in-season changes. For more information, visit www.nrm.dfg.ca.gov/File- Handler.ashx?DocumentID=19 0456&inline.

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