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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-07-2015, 01:48 AM Thread Starter
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Smith R.

Got a first look at this river at its low low. Still a fetching watershed. I imagined what a healthy flow with new fish might look like and wish to return.
I'm guessing a float would be the only way to do it justice. Anyone able to recommend a knowledgeable guide, hotel/restaurant, winter run timing and anything else I wouldn't know to ask?
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-07-2015, 10:55 AM
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Which Smith River?
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-08-2015, 01:53 AM Thread Starter
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Should've known

With a name like Smith, there's bound to be more than one! The one I'm interested in was named after Jed Smith in N.CA near the OR border.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-14-2015, 12:14 PM
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I would recommend Jason Hartwick and Andrew Harris of Confluence Anglers as guides ( Andrew is with Confluence) . I have fished with both and highly recommend them. I think that both would describe the Smith as challenging to say the least.

I spent a week on the Smith in early March and the river was very low and crystal clear. Fishing was tough to say the least, but just being on the river made the trip. I did find several good spots to try as the river below Slant bridge is fairly accessible from the road. I saw only one drift boat with a guide the entire week which shows how slow the fishing was. Mid January is considered the peak time for steelhead, I went later because I thought it would be less crowded with longer daylight. Next year I will go in January depending on the weather.

I camped at the state park which is very nice but expensive for camping. I guess someone has to pay has to pay for those heated bathrooms and showers. Crescent City is close with lots of lodging and restaurant choices. I recommend the Chart House at the harbor for at least some meals, plus you can dry out your clothes as you eat.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-14-2015, 02:14 PM
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Hartwick dosen't guide the smith, its too inconsistent; he favors the eel system.

I know rich zellman guides the smith on the swing, but you have to book at least 2 days on the smith with him at a time.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-14-2015, 07:19 PM Thread Starter
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thank you both!

I must admit to a (naive) visual infatuation with the Smith. Challenging conditions are not a deterrent, but there must be a reasonable number of fish in the river to offer an opportunity… otherwise it's only a field trip (which I had in September). If combat fishing is a threat however, I'd lose a good deal of my infatuation.
Can I assume that the guides recommended would be fishing it regularly? Perhaps I should pose it directly to them. If contact info is available, I'll do just that.
The park and restaurant reference are helpful, also. Thanks for responding.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-14-2015, 10:19 PM
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A fair assumption.

This 'Smith River' is just south of the Oregon Boarder flowing into the Salt. Been a good bit of time since I've fished there so take this with a large grain of salt.

Where you have public access it is a 'Dream Stream, as is the Chetco a few miles above up in Oregon. November-January are your time frames.

Watching a MLS (pro-soccer) game for a 'Money-Marbles-and Chalk;' GOD I hated those games where there had to be a winner-looser.

So what does this have to do with fishing? I took my gear and made it a long weekend. Couple of the Dad's were Guides and took me on 'We don't usually take people 'here' adventures.
Small towns, my level save for a phone call, were .. to be .. less than ...

"Alll season long you have heard this in your ears, NOT TODAY. If it's a fluffy foul I'm going to ignore it and yell PLAY ON! Get your butt off the ground and get back into the game."

'Turrnie' final match's: You had a team of Sr. Ref's from a hundred/two hundered miles away. No disrespecy, but 'hommer's.'

We/he restared with a 'Drop Ball.' After the game Mother's hugging me/us, Father's shaking my hand. Best compliment ever was "I know you three have Ref'ed at the Professional Level but we've never seen that with kids before."

One had serious mobility issues, but when he shot up the yellow flag, my whistle went off.




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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 10:35 AM
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The Smith is the toughest river I've ever fished. The guides that fish it all winter tend to get a grab every five days... FIVE days. That's a very low prospect, even for winter steelhead. If you don't know the river, then you're odds are a lot worse. Some of this has to do with the number of drift boats fishing every day and some of it has to do with the clarity of the water. The biggest factor I think, is that some fish just aren't grabby fish. Smith River steelhead just aren't grabby to a fly, plain and simple. Despite the challenge, I usually spend anywhere from three weeks to all my time every winter there. It's that beautiful. Besides, we're steelhead fishermen. The skunk is accepted.

BTW, Fred Evans is a great guy, but I have no idea what he's even talking about...
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 11:05 AM
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The river gets the piss beat out it by the onslaughts of guides and non guided gear fisherman in it. The smith fishes before the chetco after a big rain storm so all the guides fish there. Also most of the good runs that you can access on the lower river have plunkers parked in them. It's real annoying to be working thru a run on the lower river, where most of the good runs are and have a plunkers drive right up get out of his truck. Cast out his rig and start fishing. Most fly guys wait till the river is to clear to start fishing it. It's best when you catch it high and on the drop. It will be dirty but the fish will be in close where you can get to them.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 01:52 PM
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Beautiful emerald green river with jaw dropping old growth redwoods to view. The Smith recovers from heavy rains quicker than other rivers so it can draw large crowds at that time.

From January thru February (prime steelhead time) the number of driftboats from the S Fork to the lower take-outs often times will look like the Spanish Armada.

For the most part a swung fly is real tough on this river. Maybe try the middle fork, less fish but a more quality fishing experience. That said there are some big hot fish that swim in the Smith.

The Chetco is only a few miles north which also draws big crowds but is far more forgiving. Maybe stay at/near Hiouchi and fish both rivers.
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 07:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kalamaman View Post
Got a first look at this river at its low low. Still a fetching watershed. I imagined what a healthy flow with new fish might look like and wish to return.
I'm guessing a float would be the only way to do it justice. Anyone able to recommend a knowledgeable guide, hotel/restaurant, winter run timing and anything else I wouldn't know to ask?

Sir

I fish the Smith river 6-8 weeks a year for Salmon, Great place to pound them and harvest a few. The steelhead can be tough, I would contact Harvey Young for a good guide, and I would also recommend staying at the Ship ashore hotel in smith river, that way you can cover the Chetco or the Smith at the same time.

The Smith is a very good steelhead river using bait, not so hot steelhead fishing with the fly, however the Salmon really eat flies good.

Carl Blackledge
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-16-2015, 12:20 AM Thread Starter
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Got enough now to work with

Thanks, you guys! I'm willing to risk a skunking… it's a risk on any river. Unless they only hold in very deep water, a swung fly has a chance. The crowds and boat hatch does give me pause, though. Too bad there isn't a fly only stretch… might be a project for a NoCal club (or more likely, already has been).
I'll make the trip this winter and post the results. Looking forward to it.
BTW, SW Washington just got the first big rains… full banks/muddy water. Winter fish can't be far behind.
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-16-2015, 08:50 AM
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I fished with Rich Zellman on the Smith and would highly recommend his service. Its simply a wonderful but very challenging place to swing a fly.
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-16-2015, 03:26 PM
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Thumbs up A lovley place to be.

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Two old dogs (Sandy, a Lab and Husky a huge fluff dog) following along; 'What do you guys think?' As I pointed out the water.




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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-24-2015, 12:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rmacneil656 View Post
Hartwick dosen't guide the smith, its too inconsistent; he favors the eel system.

I know rich zellman guides the smith on the swing, but you have to book at least 2 days on the smith with him at a time.
Hartwick and Rich have teamed up with Whitney Gould for a 3-day session on the Smith:

It's full, make reservations for next year or book either for different trip. I just did the Jefferson session on the Klamath with those three and can't recommend them more; great folk, lodging, instructors and guides. We fished 2 rods/guide/day so got to work with each separately. They are all a touch different, so you see different sides of the same coin, a good thing IMHO. I went from a rank nimrod with the 2 handed rod to feeling comfortable with tossing up to 10' of T-17 (never fished Skagit/tips previously). Know at least I know the basic fundamentals and can work on them. Oh, yeah, we also caught fish. 3 of 4 anglers caught one or more adults on skated/waking flies and some got numerous 1/2 lb'ers on the same.
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