Going Mad for steelhead
Article and photos by Casey Allen
02/02/12 -- The Mad River is full of steelhead and the water is clearing. “This is the greatest river in the country,” claimed an excited angler as I walked by with my camera. He wasn’t fishing but waiting impatiently for his partner to arrive. I surveyed the scene at the Mad River Hatchery handicapped fishing access and there were dozens of anglers in view. During the first 10 minutes I was there, mid-morning today, I saw four fish hooked and two landed.
Employees at the Mad River Hatchery sorted 1300 steelhead on Wednesday and picked 20 females to spawn. Each female was spawned with two males and when possible they matched a wild fish with a hatchery fish. It was a busy day for hatchery workers who spawn steelhead each Wednesday. The fish are then returned to the river to continue migrating upstream and the fish ladder into the hatchery is closed until next week and the next spawning day.
Mad River is enjoying a huge run this year with steelhead ranging from 6 to over 16 pounds. Some of the fish were dark after holding in the river for a while but many were bright as a dime indicating a fish fresh from the ocean.
I walked down river to the big gravel bar and met Scott Davis and Bud Bautista from Auburn. “What a great fishery,” Davis said as I approached. He said in two days they landed around 35 fish. The two buddies were using fly tackle and had black or dark brown bead-head wooly buggers tied to their leaders.
This is an exceptional year for fishing the Mad because long periods without rain have allowed the river to clear. In normal years, the river runs muddy much of the time and the only way to hook steelhead is by a method called beading or flossing. Anglers use long leaders with a single bead above the hook. When rigged properly, the bead keeps the leader straight and a few inches above the river bottom. As it swings downstream the leader catches in a holding steelhead’s mouth and the hook is pulled into the fish just outside the mouth. This method amounts to snagging and is controversial but it is the only effective way to catch fish during muddy conditions. It also is only effective in the near reach below the hatchery where the fish hold, waiting to enter the hatchery. Since the steelhead are raised and released by the hatchery strictly for recreation, the method is tolerated. Hundreds of anglers visit Humboldt County to fish the Mad and if the practice were eliminated serious tourist dollars would be lost.
With the river clearing, only a few anglers were using this method. Most were drifting roe or Spin-n-glo’s. I saw a guy with a side planer and a wiggle plug. Many fishers were fly fishing. With the clearing water and the large number of fish the chances of enticing a bite greatly improved. The weather is predicted to be dry into next week so the fishing should remain very good.
The Mad River Hatchery would like volunteers to help spawn fish on Wednesday’s until mid -March when the spawning season ends. It takes a lot of effort to process 1300 fish and they could use the help. I plan to be there next Wednesday and I am excited to learn more about how the hatchery operates and to lend a hand for future steelhead runs.
For more information on great fishing, visit Humboldt County.
Fishing ReportsAnglers Hookup at Collins Lake
09/26/16 -- Fall is on its way and Lake Collins anglers are making the most of it. Here’s a few of our outdoor buddies who hooked up this week! David & Angela Gray from Sacramento fished the east side of our lake and hooked a...Full Story
Salmon is Spotty above Happy Camp
09/25/16 -- Salmon fishing on the Klamath river above Happy Camp is spotty. We are seeing Salmon move up the river from Klamath Glen but getting them to bite has been tough. The Klamath is very clear and on the low side some...Full Story
Chetco Ocean Bubble Season Opens
09/24/16 -- The second to the last ocean salmon season, what ODFW calls the “2016 Chetco River Fall Chinook State Waters Terminal Area Season” will open exactly one week from today on Saturday, October 1. This year’s season will...Full Story
CDFW Reintroduces Rare Trout to McCloud
Pacific Halibut Closes Friday
09/22/16 -- North Coast offshore adventures will be limited to just rockfish come Saturday morning as the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced on Wednesday the closing of the recreational Pacific halibut fishery on Saturday...Full Story
Hike For Fall Trout
09/21/16 -- Last Sunday morning I hiked into the Thousand Lakes Wilderness, which is located off Highway 89 in the Lassen National Forest roughly between Old Station and Burney. Along for the adventure was my buddy...Full Story
Sacramento River salmon run appears!
09/21/16 -- I've been on again, off again on our 2016 Sacramento River salmon season, but it appears as though the fish I've been waiting on since mid-August have finally arrived in descent numbers. Salmon fishing from Hamilton City to...Full Story
GGSA Red Bluff Salmon Derby Winner
Hat Creek Post Labor Day
09/20/16 -- Hat Creek after Labor Day continues to receive CDFW plantings. This is great news for those anglers looking for uncrowded conditions with plenty of fish to go around. I stopped by Rim Rock Ranch for information on the...Full Story
Feather River Hatchery Fish Ladder Opens
All-depth groundfish fishery reopens Oct. 1
Getting out of the North Valley heat By Gary Heffley
9/13/16 -- The Redding area has been hot both in temperature and the fishing. Nothing can beat the outstanding trout fishing on the Sacramento River in Redding, the Kokanee fishing of Whiskeytown or the trout trolling successes enjoyed by...Full Story
Poachers fined for illegal abalone
Run4Salmon traces salmon's journey
CDFW Makes Buying a License Easier
Military Vets Fish Salmon Out the Gate
Buoy 10 Chinook season goes to Sept. 14 09/01/16 -- Recreational anglers will get an additional nine days to harvest Chinook salmon at the mouth of the Columbia River under a season extension approved today by fishery managers from Oregon and Washington...Full Story
Sea Otter Shootings in Santa Cruz County
A Hot Summer’s Day on Chico Creek
07/25/16 -- I’ve been exploring Northern California’s streams -- above and below the surface -- for most of my life. One of my most memorable adventures took place on a hot summer’s day in 1964, not long after my sixteenth...Full Story
Disregard the story’s title. I don’t really have a “first” name. If I did, it would probably be something like Leviathan or Behemoth or maybe Lunker. Officially, I’m a trout. A brown trout. A giant, brown trout. Possibly the biggest, fattest...Full Story
11/14/15 -- Adjacent to both Lake Almanor and Mountain Meadows, between the towns of Westwood and Greenville, is a seemingly forgotten piece of backcountry; Keddie Ridge – aka Ridge World – where ancient rocks... Full Story
Let’s check out the Upper Sac
09/06/15 -- The Upper Sacramento River – The Upper Sac – begins at Lake Siskiyou’s Box Canyon Dam and continues ~37 miles downstream to Lake Shasta. It is a classic freestone river born from the Mt. Shasta and Mt. Eddy... Full Story
How to make Tuscan Tuna Salad with Fennel By Frank Galusha
05/04/15 -- OK, you went ocean fishing. If your fish is fresh or if you have processed, vacuum packed and frozen your catch properly, there are many ways to enhance your meals. Almost everything taken from the ocean is not... Full Story
Fishing the Klamath below JC Boyle Dam
03/02/15 -- Year round trout action can be found on the Klamath River within the 20 or so miles of free flow within Oregon and California. While fishing below the flumes at the JC Boyle powerhouse, it can be difficult to know just when...Full Story
The Mystery of the Middle Fork, Part IV
11/10/14 -- This trip was to be the final chapter in the saga that began three years ago but is actually over 20 years in the making. As Bruce, Tuck and I journeyed back to the Middle Fork of the Feather River we made...Full Story
Climbing Terms for the Fisherman
German brown trout afternoon in Modoc
09/04/14 -- Catching a German Brown Trout from the creeks in Modoc County is a fine way to spend an afternoon. There are many creeks in this part of California that drain the Warner Mountains. Stream trout fishing in this region opens...Full Story
Throw the kitchen sink at them
08/20/14 -- Our wilderness areas are special, where Mother Nature is landlord and natural forces operate freely. Within the wilderness you will find no roads, shelters, picnic tables, toilets, or other conveniences. You enter at...Full Story
Humboldt Bay: Busy port, excellent fishery
Pulled into the pipes: Green Sturgeon
03/04/14 -- [Posted with permission of FISHBIO] Living in the Sacramento River can be a risky business for juvenile green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris). The young fish must swim through a gauntlet of water... Full Story
Not Just Any Fish
02/14/13 -- Trout have inhabited California waters from the Sierra Nevada and Warner Mountains to the Pacific Ocean since prehistoric times. However, most of the trout caught by anglers are either hatchery raised fish...Full Story
Fishing with Phideaux
01/26/14 -- Meet Phideaux, a 110-pound neurotic chocolate Lab. His name is pronounced “Fido” but it is spelled “Phideaux” because he is a Cajun dog. Anyway, last summer Phideaux took his human (that’s me) on a trout hunt up into...Full Story