BY BILL KARR
WON Staff Writer
BROOKINGS, Ore. - While water levels on the Chetco River have
been high most of December, anglers have enjoyed some of the best early season
steelhead action in the past five years during the fishable times.
Plunkers fishing the
gravel bars on the lower Chetco began reporting good catches in mid-December,
with big numbers of hatchery fish.
"Fish travel in
is less than 4 feet of water as they make their way upriver," said WON Field Reporter David Pitts. "Areas to look
for Christmas success are the lower end of the Social Security Bar where the
river tapers and pinches. Steelhead will shoot up this funnel in shallow
water. Also check out Freeman Hole, the North Fork water tower, the Piling Hole
and Loeb State Park eight miles up river on the North bank road. Use Spin
N Glo’s , zip line rigs and roe." He said.
Plunkers have been
using medium-size Spin-N-Glos with roe clusters. When side-drifting,
combinations of yarn, Puff Balls, roe and even small Spin-N-Glos are producing.
"We've been using 10- and 12-shot slinkies to get down quickly in the
higher water," said WON
Field Reporter and guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.
dropped below 7,000 cfs on Dec. 16 and the plunkers at the Gate Hole above Tide
Rock caught around 15 steelhead," Martin said. "The next day I hard
of a couple dozen caught at Social Security Bar. Most of them have been
fishable water only a few times in the middle of the month, but reported decent
"It's been high,
but we've been able to get a fish or two each time," Martin said.
"The fish have been fairly low in the system, from Moffit Rock to the
North Fork. Above that, there have been a few fish caught, but so far the best
fishing is from Loeb down."
During the high
water, Martin said he has been finding fish tight to the bank, especially along
the willows. "The water has been high and pretty-colored, so the fish have
been holding in the slower, shallower water right next to shore," Martin
said. "Sometimes we are catching them in just 2 feet of water."
Drift boaters even in
higher water can connect on a good day of chromers by targeting the sides and
soft seams of tailouts. Long straight stretches side drift roe or pink
A series of storms the
week before Christmas was expected to bring more high water, although the
Chetco was rising slower than expected on Dec. 18. The Chetco steelhead fishing
typically peaks in January and February. "Judging by December's action, I
think we may be in for a treat in January," Martin said. "The run is
off to a great start, and it should keep building for the next several weeks."