The Mad River is one of the most popular bank angling rivers in California. It is located just outside of the town of Arcata off of Hwy 299. This river system is known for its Steelhead run. The fish that swim up the Mad River can range from 5lbs. to 20lbs. The average fish size in the Mad River is roughly 8-12lbs. With a hatchery in the town of Blue Lake, you have the opportunity to catch hatchery fish, which most rivers in Northern California don’t have! Your daily bag limit is 2 fish per day, but you can have some great days of wild and hatchery Steelhead.
In November the rains will blow open the mouth of the Mad River. A small run of King Salmon come up. In 2007, six stray Sockeye Salmon same up the river and sat at the Blue Lake Bridge. It’s hard to say where they came from. You will see small spurts of Steelhead in late-November and December. January fish start pouring into the river system. Weather permitting, the fishing is good into late-February. With March approaching you will start to see a lot of run back Steelhead.
These are Steelhead that have spawned and are heading back to the ocean. Unlike Salmon, Steelhead can do to and from the river multiple times. Once Salmon start staying in the rivers, they inevitably die.