When I first started fishing the Eel River in 2000, it was a sad story. The Salmon were few and far between, but the Steelhead fishing was decent. When they decided to close the ocean to Salmon fishing in the mid-2000’s, it was the best move that the Department of Fish and Game could have made for the Eel River Salmon. After it re-opened, the numbers of returning Salmon was unreal. There were fish everywhere! The fishing numbers went from one to five a boat up to 8 to 12 a boat. Since the closure, the river has been rebounding from low numbers to some of the best numbers of returning Salmon in decades. The Steelhead return is on a great steady climb. The future outlook for the river looks great.
With this river system, weather is everything. The Eel River is a muddy drainage that can stay blown out for weeks because of all the past logging in the area. When you have a chance to fish the Eel, it will start around November with King Salmon. The Salmon fishing comes to the end around late-November. The Winter Steelhead fishing starts like all the other rivers around January and finishes in March. The average Salmon is about 20lbs. and the average Steelhead is 8-12lbs.