I had heard through the grapevine that my one true love would be set free, wild Smith River steelhead. The thought of this didn't seem it could even be possible or thinkable, with the amount of gear boats and fisherman on the Smith.This past weekend, I and Ryan Peterson had the opportunity to chat with the CDFG warden in charge of enforcing fishing regulations in Del Norte county. He confirmed the rumors that had been flying around since early last December. 2010 Smith River regulation updates: Below are freshwater sportfishing regulation changes for the Smith River that will become effective on March 1, 2010.
1. A North Coast Salmon Report Card will be required for the Klamath, Trinity as well as the Smith River.
2. No retention of wild trout or steelhead on the Smith River.
3. The daily bag limit will be 2 hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead with no more than 4 hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead in possession.
4. 1 Chinook salmon and no more than 5 wild Chinook salmon per year.
Truly a win for wild steelhead and salmon, the coolest thing is that these wild fish will now have the opportunity to really come back. The wild steelhead here still come back in good numbers, as do the salmon, I would think mostly because that their habitat is still in exceptional shape for this day and age. There is no other river that I know for a fact I'm covering fish, although I always think I am on other rivers. On the Smith, you can see them, it's an incredible place. I can't wait to see what it can really produce. I've talk to many old-timers on the river and have heard of estimates of 30,000 steelhead returning 30 years ago. They've said the run is half of what it once was. With the amount of pressure the Smith sees, I'm sure a few thousand wild fish are taken each year. Give it a generation and let's see what happens.