Following another week of heavy rain and soaring river levels, green water is finally on the horizon for two of the quick-clearing coastal rivers. Sunshine is in the forecast for the weekend, and Monday and Tuesday are looking dry as well. For steelhead anglers, this means both the Smith and Chetco will be on the drop and heading towards greener waters. Boats should be back to side-drifting Sunday on the Smith, and possibly by Monday on the Chetco. For the rest of the coastal rivers, no such luck. They’ll remain high and muddy and won’t clear before the next round of storms roll through starting next Wednesday. As it’s been the case all year, expect a crowd if you plan to fish either of these rivers once they turn green.
The weather ahead
“Precipitation will be with us through Friday, but we’ll finally see a few nice days beginning this weekend,” said Ryan Aylward of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “We’ll likely see anywhere from three to five inches fall between Wednesday and Thursday, with the heaviest rain falling Thursday morning. Showers are in the forecast for Friday, with possibly an inch falling in Del Norte and a half-inch in Eureka. A high pressure will build, keeping us dry from Saturday through Monday. We may see a slight shower on Tuesday, with rain returning on Wednesday as we head into another wet pattern. Several systems are forecasted to hit the North Coast through the following weekend.”
“The Chetco was fishing fair last week before the big rain started on Friday”, said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Now it looks like it will be blown out until early next week. We should see good numbers of hatchery and wild fish when it comes back into shape, although there were some down runners already being caught before the river blew out.
The Smith has been bouncing back and forth between 14 and 19 feet on the Jed Smith gauge since last weekend. It was back on the rise as of early Wednesday, and predicted to reach nearly 25 feet by midday Thursday. With very light rain forecasted for Friday, it will drop quickly and should be under 13 feet and driftable by Sunday. Earlier this week, boats plunking between Ruby and the water tower were picking up a few steelhead while the flows were receding.
Eel and Van Duzen Rivers
The main stem Eel, South Fork Eel, and the Van Duzen were all on the drop as of Wednesday. That’s the good news. Bad news is they are all forecasted for steep rises on Thursday, with the main Eel and Van Duzen both predicted to surpass flood stage. The South Fork Eel is supposed to hit monitor stage Thursday evening. It’s doubtful any of these rivers will fish prior to the next round of storms, especially the main Eel.
According to Justin Kelly of Eureka’s RMI Outdoors, the liners did pretty well this past weekend. “From what I heard, it was probably the best fishing so far this season. I also heard there’s quite a few fish in the ladder. The next storm coming will likely push the water level past monitor stage on Thursday, but it looks like it will drop quickly. Liners should be able to get back on the water by Sunday,” Kelly added.
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