Fishing Reports

Steelhead action improves on rivers near Brookings

BROOKINGS, Ore. (Jan. 11, 2024) – Steelhead fishing on the Chetco and Smith rivers dramatically improved early this week before heavy rains returned, blowing both rivers out. Another series of storms is expected this weekend, which could bring numerous local rivers to the verge of flood stage. The rivers are then expected to drop back into fishable shape next week.

A father and son hold a bright Chetco River steelhead caught with Capt. Andy in January 2024.

Just before the rains, steelhead fishing had improved, with catch rates jumping to three to four fish per boat. The action was short-lived, as heavy rains increased flows to 10,000 cfs on the Chetco, and 22 feet on the Smith. Flows are expected to top 30,000 cfs on the Chetco this weekend, and 50,000 cfs, or 26 feet, at the Highway 101 bridge over the Smith River. The Chetco fishes best below 4,000 cfs.

A beautiful steelhead caught in the Wild and Scenic Upper Chetco with Capt. Andy in January 2024.
Longtime customer Craig with a Chetco River steelhead caught with Capt. Rye in January 2024.

The Brookings Fishing Charters team of captains are also licensed river guides in Oregon and California and have decades of experience fishing local rivers. Capt. Andy, Mick, Rye, Sam and Travis run trips from drift boats, navigating down the river with oars as customers use light spinning rods to drift tiny clusters of salmon or steelhead eggs. Pound-for-pound, steelhead are among the hardest fighting game fish, and often leap out of the water when hooked. The Smith and Chetco are among the most scenic rivers on the West Coast.

Fish on! Fighting a steelhead on the Upper Chetco River using light spinning gear.

Steelhead fishing was on the slow side in December and first few days of January before action accelerated late last week, as fresh schools of steelhead moved into the rivers. Fishing is expected to be good as the rivers drop back into shape next week. The peak of the steelhead season is mid-January through February. Steelhead are difficult to catch when rivers are muddy and blown out, but bite well as flows are dropping and river shifts from low visibility to what is known as “steelhead green.”

Capt. Andy and a customer with an Upper Chetco steelhead in January 2024.

Capt. Andy, Mick and Travis have special-use permits from the US Forest Service to fish the Wild and Scenic Upper Chetco. Only a very limited number of guides have these permits, allowing customers to fish in an extremely productive, yet uncrowded section of river. All of the Brookings Fishing Charters guides also have Forest Service permits to fish the Smith River from the confluence of the Middle and South Forks, which allows them to drift through the stunning section of river through Redwood National Park.

To learn more about guided drift boat trips, visit or call (541) 813-1082.

A big wild steelhead released after an exciting battle on the Upper Chetco River.

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