Oregon Fishing Report

High water halts Chetco steelhead action

Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Feb 08, 2017

BROOKINGS, Ore. — Another big storm has blown the Chetco River out, and with more rain on the way, it appears the river will be too high to fish through the weekend.

"We went from low, clear conditions to high, muddy conditions overnight," said guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. "Now it looks like the entire river will be blown out for a week or more. It will probably even be too high for the plunkers."

A PERFECT DAY ! — Mike Sullivan and Jim Russell of Sonora travelled to the Chetco River in southern Oregon to fish with guide Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service, ending a perfect day by going 4 hookups on steelhead and four landed. They used Fishpills and yarn.

The Chetco was down to 1,400 cfs last Thursday, before heavy rain arrived that night. It was up to 17,000 cfs on Saturday, and could reach 20,000 cfs the middle of this week. The river generally doesn't fish well until it drops to 4,000 cfs.

"There were quite a few steelhead in the river last week," Martin said. "We had a couple of days were we hooked four or five fish. The biggest steelhead I saw caught last week was 17 pounds."

Stefon Murrof of Boise, Idaho, was fishing with one of Martin's guides near the South Fork when he caught the 17 pounder last Monday on roe.

The upper river seemed to fish better than the lower river last week. "The upper river wasn't as crowded, since only a few guides are allowed to go up there," Martin said. "So we had a chance to fish without a bunch of boats spooking the fish. On the lower river, there were plenty of fish, but once the boats started stacking up, the bite turned off."

Guides and other anglers have been donating wild steelhead to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's hatchery program for the Chetco. Known as the broodstock program, the hatchery relies 100 percent on donations from anglers. The steelhead are spawned at Elk River Hatchery and the smolts are released back into the Chetco. Most local guides carry live wells in their boats to hold steelhead that are donated.

Damien Hawley-Jones, the coordinator of the program, said through last week, 57 steelhead had been donated. Through the same period last year, only 41 steelhead had been collected. The hatchery is expected to raise 50,000 steelhead smolts for release back into the Chetco.

Guide Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service went up to the Chetco from the Smith and put Mike Sullivan and Jim Russell of Sonora on limits before it blew out.

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