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Slide Show of Smith River Scenery - about 30 photos in all.

New: Fishing photos of Bluff (18) & Park (19) Holes (see map below). Slideshow also includes parts of the river all the way to the mouth of the Smith River where it flows into the ocean; then beach north along the Pacific Ocean towards the Oregon border. Photos by Hella Rothwell


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The Smith River is a river on the Pacific coast of Northern California in the United States, approximately 20 miles (32 km) long. It drains a rugged area of the Coast Ranges west of the Siskiyou Mountains just south of the Oregon border and north of the watershed of the Klamath River. It is the largest river system in California that flows freely along its entire course. It was named for the explorer, Jedediah Smith.

It is formed by the confluence of its Middle and South forks in Del Norte County, in the extreme northwest corner of California. The Middle Fork (25 mi/40 km) rises in northeastern Del Norte County, approximately 30 miles (48 km) ENE of Crescent City and flows southwest. The South Fork (20 mi/32 km) rises in southern Del Norte County, approximately 25 miles (40 km) southeast of Crescent City, and flows north. The forks join in central Del Norte County and flow generally northwest, entering the Pacific near the village of Smith River, approximately 10 mi (16 km) north of Crescent City.

The free-flowing nature of the river--without a single dam along its entire length--makes it especially prized among conservationists and is considered one of the crown jewels of the National Wild and Scenic River program.

The Smith River, in Del Norte county, is the northernmost of California's major rivers. The mouth being about 5 miles from the Oregon border, 10 miles north of Crescent City. It is the largest free-flowing river in the state, producing the largest Steelhead and Chinook Salmon. The state record steelhead, 27 lbs. 4 oz. and the state's second largest Chinook Salmon, 86 lb, were both pulled out of the Smith. Steelhead of 20 lbs are caught on a regular basis and the chinook average 20-36 lbs.

The Smith is known as the quickest clearing stream of the coastal rivers. After major storms, the river is fishable in a couple of days, whereas some of the other rivers can take up to 2 weeks. The reason for this is the free-flow nature of the river which has allowed it to carve its bed down to bedrock.

Along with steelhead and chinook, the Smith also has runs of silver salmon, coho, and sea-run cutthroat trout. The chinook runs start in late August, going through late December, with its peak in November. Steelhead start their runs in early December and go through March, with their peak in January.

The Smith River flows through some of the most beautiful scenery in California. From Six Rivers National Forest through Jedediah State Park, it is hard to decide which is better, the scenery or the fishing. Be sure to visit the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery if you pass through the town of Smith River near the mouth of the river. The hatchery offers tours daily and it's a great opportunity to see the efforts being put into keeping our sport alive.

Ocean front Real Estate in Smith River - Crescent City - Hiouchi - California

Lower River

The best areas to fish in this section are the riffles and holes between the 101 bridge and Piling Hole. The holes here change from year to year due to the silting and dredging effects of the river. This area is best fished by boat, but wading can also be productive. Pala Road offers the only access to the South side of the river in this section. You can park at the State park and walk about a 1/2 mile to the river. Moseley Hole(1)and Piling Hole(2) can be reached from this area by the levee system.
As always, care should be taken when wading any area.

The next areas to fish in this area are Cattle Crossing(3) and Rowdy Hole(4). Access to these spots is accomplished by taking Sarina Rd, just north of the town of Smith River, to the river. The gravel bar at the mouth of Rowdy Creek is reached from the levee system at the end of this road. This area is brushy and hard to move with a fish on, but is definitely worth the effort.

Further upstream are Woodruff Hole & Riffle(5), Bailey Hole & Riffle(6), and Rooney Hole & Riffle. Access to these areas is accomplished from the boat ramp off Fred D Haight Drive and walking this stretch. Pump Hole(9) is located just down stream from the 101 bridge.
I could find no current information about this hole, so it is up to you to try it and let me know its current status.
Note: Public access to the river from Bailey Rd has been fenced off.

Taking South Bank Road just south of the 101 bridge provides access to the next major holes and riffles. Within the first upstream mile on this road are access roads to a gravel bar. This bar provides access to Bennie Hole(10) and Water Tower Hole(11).

Henry Hole(12) is accessed via North Bank Road, Highway 197. A turnout is located 1.4 miles from 101 and 5.3 miles from the Hiouchi Bridge. From this turnout you can access the downstream end of a large gravel bar.

A little further upstream on 197, is Ruby Van Deventer State Park(13). A large gravel bar is located here with the best area to fish being the long glide available from this bar.

About 1/2 mile south of the State Park is a turnout that provides a short walk to Brundeen Riffle & Hole(14). About another 1/2 mile upstream is a road leading down to the river. The upper area of Brundeen Hole and Early Hole(15) are located along this gravel bar.

Access to Early Hole and Walker Hole(16) can be achieved from Walker Road off Highway 199.

The Southeast side of Hiouchi Bridge allows access to Hiouchi Hole((17). Trail leads to large rock and a gravel bar is located just downstream.

Just west of Hiouchi Bridge on 199 is a gravel road that leads north to a gravel bar. To the south is Hiouchi Trail head that provides walking access to Bluff Hole(18) and Park Hole(19). These holes can also be accessed through Jedediah Smith State Park on the other side of the river.

Traveling upstream on 199, through the town of Hiouchi for about 1/2 mile, turn south on road that crosses Neils Christensen "Slant Bridge". After crossing the bridge there is a river access road to your right. There is some good fast water at the bottom of this road. The mouth of Myrtle Creek can also be accessed at this spot.

Further down this road you come to the South Fork of the Smith. Crossing at George Tryon Bridge, you can go left or right. Going right onto Douglas Park Rd leads to Stout Grove. Stout Grove has good parking and toilets. From here a trail leads down to the river where Sophie Hole(20) and Whitehorse Riffle, just upstream from Sophie Hole, are accessible.

The stretch of water between the 101 and 199 bridges, probably produces the largest steelhead caught in California. Just about this whole seven mile stretch is excellent fishing water. Deep holes are found here, where the water hits large rocks or the bank, holding both steelhead and salmon. The riffles below these holes provide good flyfishing areas. Highway 197 runs along the north bank between the two bridges. There is access to the river all along this road, with the main access at Simpson Camp or the county park. There is a road along the south bank that turns off at the south end of the 101 bridge. Upstream on this road is access to the gravel bars along the river. From the gravel bars one can access some good holes and riffles.


Hella Mitschke Rothwell (R), Real EstateBroker/RealtorŪ - Tel. 831-626-4000 or 707-460-0604
Email hellarothwell@gmail.com - Fax 1-877-822-9332
Mailing Del Norte County: P.O. Box 2144, Crescent City, CA 95531

California Broker's License # 01772851 - Address: Su Vecino Court, Lincoln & Dolores btw 5th & 6th, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921
Hawaii Broker's License # RB-21268 - Address: 1128 Ala Napunani Street #1809, Honolulu, HI 96818
Hella Rothwell. For all your real estate needs in California and Hawaii.



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