Northern CA Freshwater Fishing Report

Giant salmon surge into Chetco River, 65 pounder caught!

Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Nov 22, 2011

BROOKINGS, Ore. — The biggest rain of the season has brought the largest kings of the year into Oregon's Chetco River, which produced at least four monster salmon in a single day last week, including an estimated 65-pound king that may be the largest ever from the river.


The Chetco dropped back into shape Saturday, Nov. 19, after heavy rains blew it out the day before, and big kings were caught throughout the river.


Wayne Smith of Yreka, Calif., fishing with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing, caught one of the biggest salmon ever landed on the Chetco, a 47-inch king with a 33-inch girth estimated to weigh 65 pounds. The huge salmon crunched down on a size T55 Hawg Nose FlatFish.


Martin and guide Randy Wells were working a hole on the middle section of the Chetco when they both put clients into giant kings on back-to-back passes. Wells, also using the new Hawg Nose FlatFish, first put Jim Chapman of Powell Butte, Ore., into a 50-pound king. As Wells was netting the big fish, Martin had his customers drop their plugs into the same hole, and Smith hooked into his trophy king.


"The water was still pretty high and pushy and fairly dark colored, so we were using bigger plugs and letting them out 70 feet," Martin said. "It was taking bigger plugs to get down in the deeper water where the fish were holding." The new T55 Hawg Nose FlatFish can dive to more than 20 feet when flat-lined, Martin said.


The same day, guide Todd Puett also put customers into two kings in the 50-pound range. Both of Puett's lunker kings were photographed and then released.


The Chetco crested near 4,000 cfs on Nov. 18 at the Ice Box gauge, and was down to 2,500 cfs Saturday and Sunday. Leaves made fishing tough, but a decent number of fish were caught when it dropped back to easily fishable levels.


"I think the fishing will get better as the leaves clear out," Martin said. "There are a lot of fish in the system right now."


Another big storm expected to hit mid week, however, could blow the Chetco out again for a few days. Before the rain, fishing went from good to poor.


"We found some decent fish in the upper section early last week but then started to fish the Smith because it had some brighter fish down low," Martin said. "But once the rains came, the Chetco got a bunch of new bright fish."


Well over a dozen 50-plus-pounders have been caught on the Chetco so far this season. The run, which was estimated to be more than 130 percent of normal before the season began, is shaping up to be one of the best big-fish years in decades. Wayne Smith's 65-pounder could be bigger than the 64-pound record caught in the 1970s.

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