The Smith River remains one of California’s most pristine rivers, and it supports good salmon and steelhead runs — both of which are highly sought after by fishermen.
To protect salmon populations, existing fishing regulations only allow fishing on the entire river if flows rise above 400cfs (below 400cfs, fishing is only allowed from Rowdy Creek to the mouth).
Last fall, river flows hovered at 450cfs, and while the whole river was open to fishing, there were a lot of reports to Fish & Game of intentional snagging (some call it “tightlining”) of salmon.
With flows so low, salmon are easy to see and snag, and Fish & Game wardens said enforcement was problematic due to the size of the river and the diffculty proving somone was intentionally snagging fish.
CalTrout backs a proposed solution which would raise “fishing” flows (for the whole river) to 600cfs — a proposal which will be heard at the April Fish & Game Commission meeting in Eureka.
“I’ve been listening to the fishermen and other advocates and trying to determine what’s best for the fish and for the anglers” said CalTrout North Coast Regional Manager Darren Mierau.
“We’re definitely in support of changing the river flow closures from 400 cfs to 600 cfs, which better protects salmon.”