It’s safe to say that the peak of the steelhead run on the Smith River in Northern California has arrived. A very welcoming sight to a river as rich as it comes in steelhead history. January saw its struggles on the Smith River. A very low volume of new steelhead moved into the river daily and catch rates were low, along with moral from local fishermen and fishing guides. Fishing was just plain tough….. BUT THAT WAS THEN, AND THIS IS NOW! And it’s funny how fast things can change on the river.
The timing couldn’t have been better. The Smith River got blasted with a series of big Pacific storms bringing the river up considerably. Sending the scent of fresh familiar water to the steelhead that had been gathered in the Pacific Ocean around the mouth of the Smith River. Awaiting just such a event, the native steelhead instinctually poured into the Smith River system. Heading for the tributaries to which they were born.
To add a extra blessing to the great weather, the onset of this months full moon (blood moon) was impeccably timed, bringing the steelhead close to the mouth awaiting the only other naturally occurring event that triggers steelhead to migrate to their spawning grounds. Things couldn’t have been set up better by mother nature herself on this one.
With river flows much to high for drift boating and river conditions less then desirable for bank fishing, steelhead anglers quickly scrambled to stake out their favorite “plunking” spots. At just before day break last Thursday morning, the sound of rod holders being pounded in the ground accompanied the sound of the Smith River’s roar when sustaining high flows. Angler’s were rewarded instantly as it didn’t take long for the plunk bite to start even as the river still was on the rise. Steelhead fishing guide and Smith River veteran Dave Jacobs www.sacramentofishing.com along with steelhead fanatic Ryan Tripp and guest Shawn Chen Flading had a lights out day of steelhead fishing as they headed of the migrating steelhead charging up the Smith River. The trio smashed it Thursday catching 18 chrome bright steelhead for the days “dark to dark” efforts.
Friday and Saturday played out in the same fashion as far as plunking for the dime bright trout. On Friday February 16, 2019 the trio was joined by fishing guide Mike Rasmussen salmonsacriver.com and guest Mike Tipton from Sacramento, Ca. Who landed a hat trick of steelhead, only loosing one on his first day on the North Coast. A dozen other steelhead were hooked by the group of plunkers on the main river that day. The entire river rumored to fish extremely well with boats plunking the lower Smith River averaging between six to eight fish a boat. With plunkers scattered on the bank throughout the main river system all seeing action for their efforts. Saturday morning most anglers chose to plunk again and again it payed off as the waves of chrome bright steelhead continued to move up river out of the Pacific ocean for a third strait day. Ryan Tripp and Mike Rasmussen chose to take advantage of all the open bank fishing spots and settled in on the South Fork. Hooking a dozen steelhead before noon. Although only a single one of that dozen wild steelhead made it to the bank for a photo. Big water taking it’s toll on bank angling. Making the trout seem twice as big and strong as they already are. Nearly impossible to stop from pulling free or taking you out the back of the hole.
Sunday all things returned to the traditional style fishing on the Smith River as drift boats went back to side drifting and the dropping river finally hit a level conducive to bank fishing for the anglers who love the solitude of fishing alone on the banks of the upper river. As can be expected for the remainder of this week and weekend on the Smith River. It is now safe to say with the amount of fish that are now in river, the remainder of the season should remain great steelhead fishing for both banks anglers and drift boat anglers.
If the Smith River in Northern California is a place you have only heard about, or is on a bucket list, do yourself a favor and make your way up to the most scenic and enchanting river you may ever lay eyes on. Enjoy a backdrop you never would have imagined existed in our state of California. Truly a magical place to spend a few winter days. A local charter can easily be booked for drift boat fishing on this beautiful river, if you are new to this area or style of fishing. Dave Jacobs of Professional Guide Service www.sacramentofishing.com can be reached by phone for reservations by calling callto:530-646-9110 . Get out there and experience a place you will not forget.
Mike's Fishing Guide & Charter Service For Sacramento River Fishing targeting King Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, Striped Bass, Sturgeon, Shad And Trout the best Sacramento River Fishing guide and Sacramento River Charter on Sac River