March 09, 2017    Headlines
Russian Steelies Arrive

North Coast River Outlook:
We saw a tight band of moderate to heavy rain move through the far north coast on Wednesday. Rainfall totals south of Cape Mendocino were lower while Arcata (Mad river) saw a half inch and Gasquet on the Smith saw nearly 2" and the Chetco 2.5" through 5:PM Thursday.
Here on Thursday 3-09 evening the Smith crested at 16 feet early this morning and has dropped to 15 feet as of 6:PM. The guidance plot calls for the Smith to drop back into "play" by Saturday and to steadily drop to the 10' level by Tuesday of next week. It's that time of year when we begin to see more runbacks and fresh run "bluebacks" (smaller 2 to 3 year old fish) making up more of the catch. There are still fresh adults and some trophies in the mix but the further into March we go the fewer up bound fish we will see.
The Chetco should be back in early next week. The Chetco has been giving up some good numbers of big fish all season when it has been "in" and will also be a good bet early next week.
The South Fork Eel jumped up with the system that pushed through last weekend. Flows at Miranda as of 6:PM Thursday 3-9 are 11 feet or 3800cfs.  Flows on the Garberville to Miranda section on the South Fork need to drop to the mid to low 8 foot level before this section comes into play.
The Russian at Healdsburg had dropped to 4.5 feet of 2550CFS and is getting very close to being in play for all methods. There have been a ton of fish spawned and released from the hatchery in the past two months. There should be a few fresh fish mixed in with the down runners throughout the lower river. This is a great bet for the coming weekend for those looking to work roe or lures from either bank or boat.

North Coast Steelies
After a week of mostly dry weather the forecast calls for increasing rains to return Friday 3-3 afternoon and last into early next week. This will further delay the clearing of many rivers, some that have not fished since the New Year.
Here on Thursday 3-2 the Smith has dropped just 4" in the past 24 hours to 9.3'. This slow drop is making for some good action with guides hooking 3 to 6 fish per boat and landing 1 to 3 maybe four per boat reports Dave Jacobs. The river still has some color and should fish through Friday. Light rain will move in Friday afternoon with wet and snowy conditions (above 1500 feet) returning Saturday through Monday. The guidance plot calls for the Smith to rise to 12.2 late Saturday, drop and then come back up to the 12 foot level again on Sunday into Monday. This is not a blow out situation and it is setting the stage for good conditions next week.

Like it's over the border cousin the Chetco has been fishing well since last weekend. It's not lights out action but most guides are putting their clients into 1 to 3 hookups and a fish or two to the net. There are plenty of quality fish in the mid to high teens on both rivers to keep things interesting. The Chetco could get rained out by Saturday and into Monday but should be back in play by the middle of the week.

The Mad is currently running muddy at 9.1 feet or 2000cfs. With rain on the way it will remain so through mid month. Fishing below the hatchery has been OK as the bulk of the hatchery fish have moved up. Natives typically make up a higher percentage of the catch in March.

The South Fork Eel is currently running at 1280cfs at Leggett and is fishing on the the upper section above the East branch. The Garberville to Miranda section is still high at 9.9 feet or 2100cfs. That is close to being in but would need to drop about a foot more and that is not going to happen before the next storms arrive.

The Russian at Healdsburg is at a still too high 5 feet or 3000cfs. There are some green flows along the edges and creek mouths but overall it's plunking at best and drifting or working roe from the bank is not yet possible.  With 1 to 2 inches of rain expected this weekend it will only delay any possibility of targeting the Bay Areas only viable steelie fishery.

River Levels:


For river status (low flow closure) updates from Fish and Game please call +1.707.442.4502 for the North coast and +1.707.944.5533 for Central coast streams. Be sure to check out the California Fish and Game regulations before you go. Regulations vary on every river and you need to pay attention to bait and hook restrictions. Due to winter closures on HWYs 5, 101 & 299 we recommend you check Caltrans road conditions as well.

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