Would you like to partner with Humboldt Steelhead Days, Year #6?
The hatchery steelhead fishing contest this year will run from January 19 to February 23, 2019.
CLICK HERE > HSD-Donation-Letter-2019 for a donation form to download and print out.
Read about last year’s contest, CLICK HERE.
Humboldt Steelhead Days, year #5, Jan. 13 to Feb. 17, 2018
Humboldt County, CA — Humboldt Steelhead Days is more than just a fishing contest – it’s a winter celebration of all things steelhead. The ever-evolving event is entering its fifth year and will continue to host an array of watershed-related activities throughout Humboldt County. The goal of Humboldt Steelhead Days (HSD) is to inspire community awareness, promote river restoration and the recovery of Humboldt’s iconic wild winter steelhead populations.
Humboldt’s only annual signature wintertime event, HSD looks to build on its popularity with both local and out-of-area anglers. During January and February, there are more steelhead in our North Coast rivers than anywhere else in California.
“I’m looking forward to the fifth annual HSD competition,” said HSD angler and Arcata resident Charlie Holthaus. “Last year’s rainy weather made for tough conditions, with muddy water persisting nearly the entire season. This year the outlook is promising: The Trinity River has been fishing good already and the Mad River hatchery released plenty of young steelhead three years ago. There will be steelhead to catch in both rivers this winter. All we need is clear skies and favorable water conditions.”
Access to Humboldt County was virtually cut off last year when U.S. Highway 101 and Route 299 closed multiple times due to extreme rainstorms between October and March. But high-river flows, mudslides and road construction could not keep 110 registered anglers from fishing in HSD’s fishing contest. While many of the HSD anglers were locals from Humboldt, some braved the weather and came from as far away as Southern California and Michigan.
“Fishing winter Steelhead on the North Coast is exciting and exhilarating no matter what Mother Nature throws at you. Steelhead are beautiful, hard hitting fish. Get out there and hit it,” said HSD fisherman Tim Call.
This year, the Humboldt Steelhead Days will run from Saturday, Jan. 13, to Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. Licensed anglers can participate in the contest by registering online on www.humboldtsteelheaddays.com. Once registered, anglers will be eligible to win several prize packages. Anglers who catch the three biggest hatchery steelhead on either the Mad and Trinity rivers will be notified prior to the Steelhead Awards Ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 17, at the Mad River Brewing Co. Tap Room. Prize packages will include a Douglas steelhead spinning rod donated by rod builder and designer Fred Contaoi; guided river trips donated by River’s Edge Fishing; fishing gear from Willie Boats; gift certificates from Lube Central and 3G’s Hay & Feed, Almquist Lumber, Mr. Fish Seafood and much more.
Anglers can also attend a Steelhead Expo on Jan. 20 with clinics and seminars brought to you in part by the City of Blue Lake, several Pints for Non Profits brewery mixers, and a showing of the documentary film “A River’s Last Chance: A Story of Salmon, Timber, Weed and Wine along California’s Mighty Eel River,” by former Humboldt State University student and the director of storytelling for Pacific Rivers, Shane Anderson slated for Feb. 10 at the Lost Coast Brewing Company and sponsored by Coast Central Credit Union.
HSD will also feature a Wood Creek restoration tour on Saturday, Jan. 28 by the Northcoast Regional Land Trust organization. Humboldt Steelhead Days participants will learn about the coho salmon life history, the significance of estuarine habitat, fish monitoring technology, contextual historical regional land uses and project successes and challenges. Tour attendees will also have the opportunity to actively participate in the restoration project through a vegetation based stewardship activity.
In addition to showcasing angling opportunities on some of Humboldt’s most pristine steelhead rivers, HSD is also a major fundraising event for the non-profit group Mad River Alliance (MRA) and their programs. MRA is a community-driven group of volunteers working to protect clean water and the ecological integrity of the Mad River watershed for the benefit of its human and natural communities. MRA hosts several river clean ups along the Mad River each year. The group also holds diving education classes, river rafting and kayak safety courses for youth groups, and monitors the river by collecting temperature data.
Michelle Fuller, the former president of MRA’s Board of Directors, said, “Humboldt Steelhead Days has become one of Mad River Alliance’s most fun and well-known events. We are thrilled to see so many people connecting with this important seasonal phenomenon, and coming out to support our watershed!”
MRA founder Dave Feral founded HSD four years ago and the event’s original mission was to celebrate the return of the winter steelhead to the Mad River. HSD has evolved over the last four years to also build community awareness and fund continued restoration and recovery activities on North Coast rivers and streams.
“Mad River Alliance’s goals are to promote wintertime steelhead angling in Humboldt County and continue working toward restoring our wild fish populations,” Feral said. “The Mad River watershed supports at least 37 fish species utilizing the river for some part of their life history. For salmon and steelhead, the annual return and spawning is an integral part of Humboldt’s cultural identity and way of life. Each year, wild fish return to their native streams, spawn and continue the cycle of life. Seeing these amazing creatures return from their miles-long journey will appeal to anyone who loves the natural world.”
HSD angler and photographer, Sean Jansen said, “Chasing steelhead on the North Coast is an absolute privilege. However it takes equal parts obsession as well as patience. Obsession in studying weather patterns, river flows, water clarity, and tidal patterns. And patience for waiting for all to align. Upon the anticipation of the arrival of these fish, the true reward comes from the immense beauty they swim through.” (Read Sean’s article about HSD in the North Coast Journal, click here.)
This year, HSD organizers decided against including the Eel River as part of the fishing contest in favor of hatchery fish located in the Mad and Trinity rivers.
“We didn’t want to put any added pressure on wild fish for year five,” said Tracy Mac, HSD’s fishing coordinator. “We want to remind anglers to keep their fish in the water until they can determine if an adipose fin is absent.”
HSD angler and guide Eric Stockwell, of Loleta Eric’s Guide Service, pointed out that the release is a true test of an angler’s skills.
“As an angler develops the skills, knowledge, tooling and timing needed to pursue and catch wild steelhead, he or she may not know that the ultimate test of sportsmanship will lie in the moment of handling and release,” Stockwell said. “Focus on this pursuit long enough and you will know it.”
Anglers can fish on the Mad and Trinity rivers from Jan. 13 to Feb. 16 with the requirement that they send in a photo of their hatchery fish catch to event organizers or post them on social media using the hashtags #humboldtsteelheaddays or #HSD.
HSD Contest Leaderboard, click here.
THANK YOU SPONSORS:
HSD would like to thank the generous donations and support from Mad River Brewing Company, Green Diamond Resource Company, Pacific Watershed Associates, Alves Roofing, Mill Yard, Stillwater Sciences, Royal Gold, Coast Central Credit Union, City of Blue Lake, 3Gs Hay & Grain, Lube Central, North Fork Studios, Lost Coast Brewery, KHSU, Fishing the North Coast, Mack Graphics, Lost Coast Communications, Pacific Outfitters, RMI Outdoors, Mad River Tackle, Douglas Outdoors, North Fork Studios, North Coast Journal, Mad River Radio, KIEM News Ch. 3, Mr. Fish Seafood, Blue Lake Rancheria, Miller Farms, River’s Edge Fishing, Les Schwab, NHS, Willie Boats, Almquist Lumber and many more who make HSD possible. 2018 HSD Poster Link below. Click to enlarge.
Register and Sign Up for the Fishing Contest, click here.
If you would like to sponsor this event or donate a gift certificate or auction prize …
Contact HSD Founder:
Dave Feral at Mad River Alliance
PO Box 1252, Blue Lake, CA 95525
Humboldt Steelhead Days Fishing Contest Winners
• All Winners will need to fill out a W-9 form and send into Mad River Alliance at PO Box 1252, Blue Lake, CA 95525 or send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: For the most up to date info., check the HSD Facebook page.
in FIRST PLACE: John Boak, from Fortuna
INCHES: 36” × 19” = 18.8 lb native caught on 3/1/17
in SECOND PLACE: Wyatt McBroom, from Willow Creek
INCHES: 35 inches
in THIRD PLACE: Richard Burrow, from Eureka INCHES: 34.75” inches
Eddie Vandenbossche, from Hydesville: 32 inches
Brian Larsen, from Eureka: 32 inches
Mark Aviles, from Arcata: 31 inches
Charlie Holthaus, from Arcata: 30 inches
Jean-Christophe Worth, from Arcata: 29 /14 x 15 inches = 8.8lbs
in FIRST PLACE: Dan Nored, from McKinleyville, signed up for the contest at RMI Outdoors
INCHES: 29” caught and released on 3/12/17 with fishing guide Alan Borges
in SEOND PLACE: Tommy Sarver, signed up at Mad River Tackle in Arcata
INCHES: 28″ caught and released on 3/15/17
TIE for THIRD PLACE: Corey Adams, from Arcata
INCHES: 27” caught and released on 3/3/17, while fishing with guide Kenny Priest of Fishing the North Coast
Ross Lane, of McKinleyville
INCHES: 27″ on the South Fork of the Eel River
Chris Vela, from McKinleyville: 26” caught and released on 3/3/17, while fishing with guide Kenny Priest of Fishing the North Coast
Ruben Rios, from McKinleyville: 24″ caught and released on 3/12/17
in FIRST PLACE: Chris Edwards
INCHES: 27.5 inch hatchery steelhead
in SECOND PLACE: Charlie Holthaus
INCHES: 25-inch hatchery caught on 3/30
in THIRD PLACE: Charlie Holthaus
INCHES: 18-inch, caught on 3/30
Wyatt McBroom on 3/3/17 near Salyer
INCHES: 16.5 inches
James Simon, Trinity River 3/12/17
Honorable Mentions: Andrew Rossow, from Palo Cedro, 30” x 16.75 (he didn’t photograph his fish with a measuring tape)
Requirements to win prize money:
• Sign up for the contest on www.humboldtsteelheaddays.com under SIGN UP tab, or sign up at these outlets: RMI Outdoors, Pacific Outfitters in Eureka, Mr. Fish Seafood, Mad River Tackle or Sport & Cycle in Fortuna. $10 entry.
• Catch and photograph a steelhead from January to March 31 on the Mad, Trinity or Eel River. Hatchery (andipose fin clipped off) fish can be measured and photographed out of the water. Hatchery fish can be kept. All wild fish (#keepemwet) must be photographed and partially submerged in the river for measurement. Please handle wild fish as gently as possible. The Eel River is a catch and release only river. Please review your 2017 California Department of Fish & Wildlife Regulations before fishing and fill out your CA Steelhead Report Card.
• Measuring steelhead: Lay the tape along your fish nose to tail. Take a photo of the steelhead and the tape, so we can see the length. Post your photo to the HSD Facebook page with the #hashtag humboldtsteelheaddays; or email them to email@example.com; or you can upload them to humboldtsteelheaddays.com under the Contest tab. Include your name, and where and when the photo was taken.
• Only steelhead caught and photographed between January 1 – March 31, 2017 on Mad, Trinity, and Eel Rivers are eligible to win. Honor system please.
• 1st place: $1,000; 2nd: $450; 3rd: $300 Winners will need to fill out a W-9 form and submit to HSD before payment. send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
View all entries on the HSD Facebook page’s timeline
Humboldt Steelhead Days reserves the right to change this promotion at any time during the event. Furthermore, the final winners will be decided on by a HSD panel of judges and the panel of judges have the right to disqualify any angler for any reason. Anglers may not be present to win when winners are announced. If the selected winners do not respond or contact HSD after 60 days from April 1st, 2017 or after the winners were publically announced on the HSD website and social media, HSD reserves the right to either select another winner or forfeit the winner’s prize money.
For questions, contact Dave Feral, Humboldt Steelhead Days founder at email@example.com or call the voice mail and leave a message: (707) 502-2280
A Humboldt fishing contest gives you three months to land a catch. It may not be enough.
BY SEAN JANSEN
The life of a steelhead fisherman isn’t recommended. Nor is the life of someone dating a steelhead fisherman, for that matter, as a steelhead fishermen’s life is one filled with equal parts obsession and frustration.
Ask any steelheader, and he or she will talk of the need for a thousand casts before even getting a glimmer of one of these chrome fish. You’ll hear of waiting and hoping, and of praying that the river in front of him or her isn’t just loaded with steelhead but that it runs emerald green, clear of soil from the last rain. True steelheaders are forever grateful for rain, even if they curse its arrival under their breath. Rain creates the river flows that give these magnificent creatures life and allows them to swim out to sea in their first years, and, then, to return to the spawning grounds from which they came. And when they return back to the rivers, they do so with bellies filled by the ocean’s bounty. But the amazing life cycle of these fish and the conditions that help them flourish simply don’t take into account the needs of a fisherman.
In order to meet these fish on their own turf, an angler must first appropriately prepare for battle. A rod and reel, tackle and a valid California fishing license and a steelhead card are musts, but an angler will also need warm base layers, waders and a rain jacket, as the season of steelhead is winter, when the rivers swell, allowing the fish to swim up from the ocean and return to their old spawning ground. Along the way, they draw anglers to the banks of the river.
About four years ago, Dave Feral was one of these, tugged to the Mad River by the chance of catching one of these fish. While on the river, he had an idea: Create a contest in celebration of these wonderful fish that would raise money for environmental restoration projects to help the steelhead while also offering prize money for the biggest fish caught. In short order, Humboldt Steelhead Days was born and has now grown into a three-month long, countywide “celebration of all things steelhead.”
A steelhead is a trout, a rainbow trout, to be exact. Their genus is the same, and family, origin and design all point in that direction. They are rainbows that decided to head to the ocean and come back after gaining valuable feeding strength and survival skills thugging around in the vast Pacific Ocean. But when these fish survive ocean predators, they return to the river confident and strong. That means that when one of them gets attached to the end of your fishing line, you should be ready for the fight of your life.
During Humboldt Steelhead Days, anglers from all over descend upon our county for the three-month contest, which sees $10,000 in prizes dolled out to the biggest catches and best fish photos. With a $10 entry fee, a registered angler gets to compete against all comers for the contest’s holy grail: a $1,000 cash prize for the contest’s largest fish. But Steelhead Days is probably equal parts concert and festival, with guided river walks, restoration tours, art shows and river clean-up days. Its proceeds go toward the restoration and rehabilitation of the three rivers — Mad, Eel and Trinity — featured in the competition.
If the length of the three-month contest period — which runs from the first of the year through March 31 — seems laughably long, well, you’ve clearly never spent much time fishing for steelhead. Rain is exactly what the fish need but it also creates long stretches when the rivers aren’t fishable, colored a deep, silty mud with flows that can cause severe flooding. Often, this long contest period will pass having offered only a handful of fishable days. Though the rivers can still be fished with muddier waters or lower flows, the chances of a bite are exceedingly higher when the rivers flow a swollen and clear green.
The other tricky thing about fishing steelhead is the simple fact that the trout doesn’t eat after re-entering the river. The fish that return back from the ocean do so with only one goal: to get upstream, back to exactly where they were born and spawn. You might be wondering how you can catch one of these fish if they don’t eat. The one thing working in anglers’ favor here is that steelhead are notoriously territorial and fierce in the face of competition. A bouncing salmon egg along the river bottom, a silvery flash of a lure or a colorful fly are all considered threats to the fish and their future generations, prompting steelhead to bite.
While Humboldt County has a plethora of rivers, the Humboldt Steelhead Days contest and conservation aim surrounds just the Eel, Mad and Trinity — three very different rivers with variances in length, flow, color, geography and fish.
Without question, the Eel River is largest and most powerful of the three. With winter flows that rise to ridiculous levels, this river holds the most wild steelhead. (It also offers the chance to catch one nestled deep in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.) The Eel, however, requires the utmost patience in waiting for it to clear after a heavy rain, due to it size, past logging and the cultivation of weed and wine near its banks. But once the stars align, a swung fly or a cast lure can offer the chance to land a large wild fish.
The Mad River, on the contrary, is all about convenience, as it lies near the developed areas of McKinleyville and Arcata, making it the best after-work fishing spot in the county. With a ton of access points all the way from Maple Creek down to the fish hatchery in Blue Lake, and even 200 yards up from the ocean, miles of fishable water offer both hatchery and wild steelhead. Of course, with the river being so close to civilization, it gets a bit crowded. Nonetheless, the fishing is good, whether fly or traditional.
With its biblical name, the Trinity can be considered the Holy Grail of the region. Meandering over the hill past Willow Creek and down to the Hoopa Valley Reservation, the Trinity is one of the larger feeding tributaries to the mighty Klamath River. Steelhead and salmon both swim from the ocean, and up the Klamath to get to these spawning grounds in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. While steelhead can be found in the river year round, it’s the adults that swim back from the ocean, escaping hundreds of waiting anglers at the mouth to start the journey up river. It begins in the fall, shortly after the salmon rush of summer, when the river becomes a haven for the beautifully colored steelhead, and continues through winter.
While salmon die after spawning, steelhead can return to the rivers to spawn as many times as health allows and live up to 10 years.
It’s important to note that wild steelhead are a threatened and protected species, so if you catch one, it’s against the law to keep it. Hatchery steelhead, or those born in a fish hatchery and released into the rivers as juveniles, are legal to keep, with some restrictions. Please check fishing regulations or call the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for the latest limits and requirements.
Anglers can tell the difference between wild fish and their hatchery counterparts by their fins. Scientists and volunteers have removed or clipped a small back fin, known as the adipose fin, near hatchery fishs tails before releasing them into the wild. So an angler who catches a steelhead must check whether the fin is absent or cut from the fish to confirm it’s a hatchery fish and legal to keep. If the fin is there, it’s a wild-born steelhead that must be released.
The penalty for keeping a wild fish is substantial: a minimum fine of $500 and the confiscation of all fishing gear — starting with rods and reels, and potentially extending all the way to boats and vehicles — associated with the catch. So it pays to know the difference between hatchery fish and their wild counterparts, which are a marvel of evolution.
Wild fish survive the thrashings of being simple finger food as fry in the predator-laden rivers where they were born. They then escape the gauntlet downriver in their first voyage to sea, which ultimately exposes them to a world of unfamiliar predators and conditions. After surviving all that the ocean throws at them, the fish escape the grasps of countless hungry seals at the river mouths to return to fresh water chrome bright, clear finned and full of piss and vinegar from their experience at sea.
It’s likely this experience that leaves anglers facing a fierce fight when trying to land a steelhead. And it’s this fight — coupled with the rare conditions that make it possible — that make landing a steelhead such a prized experience. I’ll always remember my first.
It took more than a year’s worth of casts — and untold frustration and obsession — before I felt even a tug on the end of my line. I’ll never forget reeling it in and bending down to remove the hook from its mouth. The fish had scars all over its body and sea lice still attached from its time in the ocean. I gazed into its eyes and wondered what they had seen before slowly turning it around and letting its tail slip slowly out of my hands to watch it swim back into the river. I stayed crouched with my hands on my knees, in awe and feeling like I’d just read a masterpiece of a story. It’s a story that spans generations and demographics, one that speaks to anglers all over the West Coast and beyond. It’s a story worthy of celebration.
Film Event at the Minor Theatre
Rivers Of Life: A Celebration of Restoration, Resilience and Recovery
Where: Minor Theatre, Arcata
When: December 8, 2016 at 6:30 p.m.
Why: Fundraiser for children’s watershed educational programs
Mad River Alliance is a community driven group working to protect clean local water and the ecological integrity of the Mad River watershed for the benefit of its human and natural communities.
Our Education Program is an important component of our success — we are always striving to inform our community about the vibrant resource the Mad River watershed provides. The Mad River is the source of drinking water for more than 88,000 Humboldt County residents, the source of life to the natural community, and by working together we can restore and recover this resilient river!
On December 8, Mad River Alliance will be presenting a film at the Minor Theater called “Rivers of Life — Resilience, Recovery, & Restoration.” This special film showing is a fundraising event dedicated to our Education Program and we need your help. Mad River Alliance is asking the community for silent auction donations and cash contributions to cover the event expenses and to ultimately raise funds for our Education Program. Your donation will be showcased and highlighted at the event for all to view.
The proceeds from the film showing will be used to bring students to the Mad River to learn about watershed ecology, stewardship, water safety, and teamwork. We are also developing a curriculum highlighting local watershed education for K-12 teachers to use in their classrooms. With your help, we’ll be able to provide other educational programs, including hosting community education events, eco tours, science walks, and water safety classes.
We look forward to collaborating with you for this extraordinary celebration of the Mad River watershed and her sister rivers. Thank you in advance for your time and contribution.
Contact: Andy Cooper
Join Mad River Alliance, California Trout, Mountain Community & Culture
and support the 4th annual Humboldt Steelhead Days 2017, from
January 1 – March 31, 2017, the peak of the steelhead run.
Humboldt Steelhead Days aims to spotlight steelhead fishing on the beautiful and productive rivers in Humboldt County in wintertime, raise funds for their continued protection and enhancement, while encouraging winter tourism to the County from outside our borders.
Besides being the area’s largest fishing contest, Humboldt Steelhead Days also includes fish spawning tours, multiple family-fun fishing events, educational expos, steelhead celebrations and mixers, tours of local conservation projects in action, the premier of International Fly Fishing Film Festival 2017, watershed clean ups, Dell’Arte International’s Fish Tales 4 and more!
Humboldt Steelhead Days is a growing annual Humboldt event, with the intent of drawing anglers and eco-tourists from all over the state to visit and stay in the heart of the Redwoods.
We are targeting five out of the area markets this year: Redding, Sacramento, SF Bay Area, Santa Rosa and Southern Oregon regions through traditional and digital media, including an event commercial.
Proceeds from Steelhead Days will support the conservation, restoration, and education programs of Mad River Alliance, California Trout’s work on the north coast including the Eel River Forum and community-building projects of Mountain Community and Culture group in Willow Creek on the Trinity River. Your sponsorship will help to increase and support the local economy!
Join Humboldt Steelhead Days and the community of businesses who are already a part of the continued success of this event. Please consider becoming a HSD sponsor at any level. Below you can see the benefits of sponsorship. I will call you within the next two weeks to see if you have any questions. If you would like to receive more information about HSD, send us your email to be included in our e-newsletter or follow our HSD website (humboldtsteelheaddays.com) and Facebook page for updates.
Thanks in advance for your support!
Dave Feral, Mad River Alliance
Download our Sponsorship Brochure, click here.
HUMBOLDT STEELHEAD DAYS #4
Steelhead fishing contest looks to highlight watershed conservation on the North Coast
Spawning tours added as new feature to event!
Humboldt County, Ca — Humboldt Steelhead Days (HSD), a celebration of all things steelhead in Humboldt County, has received a significant donation from the Humboldt Lodging Alliance (HLA). The donation will enable HSD organizers to move forward with ambitious plans for the 2017 event.
Fast becoming Humboldt’s signature wintertime event, HSD will run from the first of January to the end of March, 2017. The event is a winter-long promotion of steelhead angling opportunities, education, and celebration throughout the county. Major rivers featured are the Trinity, Mad and Eel. HLA’s support makes possible both catch–and-keep and catch-and-release photo contests featuring cash prizes totaling $10,000. In addition there will be will be fish and habitat-related tours, onshore clinics and seminars, as well as theater and film events on selected weekends throughout the season. Events will take place at a variety of venues throughout Humboldt County, targeted for both beginners and experts.
Founded three years ago by Mad River Alliance director Dave Feral, HSD is now coordinated by three local non-profits: Mad River Alliance, CalTrout and Mountain Community and Culture. The aim of HSD is to build community awareness and fund continued restoration and recovery activities on Humboldt rivers and streams while promoting the region in the wintertime to the outside world. During January and February there are more steelhead in Humboldt rivers than anywhere else in California.
Says Feral, “Our aim is to promote wintertime Humboldt as a sportsmen’s paradise and an eco-tourist’s dream. Steelhead are an iconic species. The rivers and forestlands that support their return and propagation are at the heart of Humboldt’s appeal and beauty. We want the world to know this. Seeing wild fish returning to their native streams and perpetuating their species will appeal to anyone who has an affinity for the outdoors and a love of nature.”
To broaden the scope and appeal to anglers and non-anglers alike, 2017 HSD will feature a number of restoration seminars and spawning tours to local streams with help from Pacific Outfitters. Humboldt County is a leader in salmonid restoration and recovery.
Humboldt Steelhead Days had 1,500, mostly local, participants in 2016. HLA funds will be used to do significant outreach around Northern California and Southern Oregon in an effort to bring people into the area experience all of Humboldt’s many amenities during the winter season. Highlights will include hooking or observing steelhead, birding, fine dining, winery and brewery tours, shopping, beach combing, storm-watching, and experiencing the redwoods.
To Sponsor this event contact:
Or click here to download our sponsorship trifold/brochure.
Thanks in advance for your support!