Friends of the Van Duzen River
A Grass Roots community organization comprised of residents and visitors to the Van Duzen Region. We are Dedicated to helping to restore the river for future Generations


Salmon Tales

08/06/2009 - Location: Starvation Flats

Submitted by: Scott. Smith

Tale: If you want to see for yourself just how awesome the Van Duzen river's native winter-run Steelhead are, go to the Grizzly Creek State Park. They have a small museum of sorts with actual mounts of many of the area's wildlife, including a mounted Van Duzen river winter Steelhead that weighed 21.4 pounds, is 37" long and has a girth of 20". It was caught in what is known as the "Demello hole" in the lower Van Duzen. It was caught by a 12 year old boy on a Hotshot, while fishing in my drift boat on February 7th, 1988.


04/21/2009 - Location: Van Duzen@ Yager Creek

Submitted by: Scott. Smith

Tale: Anyone that fished the V.D. in the late '80's + early '90's will remember this spot. Just upstream from the mouth of Yager Creek there Were were a couple of dandy holes that were formed by the riprap piles that Jack Noble placed on the opposite bank to control erosion. I hung a really hot hen there one afternoon that tore off downstream about 75 yards like a freight train. There was a huge 8' f;at topped stump ount in the water there and this Steelhead found it and made a perfect half-hitch around it with my line. The only way to get her off of it was to wade out and get up on top of this stump, which is exactly what I did. As I was in the process unhitching this bruiser, I looked upstream where My creel was and here was an very opportunistic Sea Gull happily wolfing down my ziplock baggie full of roe. (thats about a third of a skein of Steelhead roe) I succeeded in landing the fish after what seemed like an eternity of her doing her best to cut the stump in half using my line as a saw. She weighed 12lbs. and was bright as a silver dollar. I always have to laugh when I remember the image of myself standing on top of that stump out in the middle of the river tied to that fish and yelling at that Sea Gull!


04/21/2009 - Location: Van Duzen@13 mile

Submitted by: Scott. Smith

Tale: Upstream from the Dwight O'Dell bridge there is an overflow channel that runs right next to the "county grove". This side channel will only have water flowing through it when the Van Duzen has a flow of about 5,000cfs or higher. when the river is up + running that strong, Salmon and Steelhead will use this as a shortcut. In the 1st week of January 2006 I walked the river from the 13 mile bridge to the 14 mile bridge just below the county dump to do a carcass and spawning survey. On the way back to my rig, I always cut across and walk down that side channel (which is always dry in "normal" flows. The river had just dropped all during the previous 2 weeks and this channel was still wet + muddy but dry. I found a mint bright female Chinnook that had gotten stranded in this channel laying there in the shade of the old growth grove. She couldn't have been there more than 1 day at the most. She was 43" long and weighed 32 1/2 lbs. Her flesh was bright red as were her eggs. How's that for a fish story ?!!!

04/07/2009 - Location: Scotia
Submitted by: Scott. Smith

Tale: I knew an older gentleman that grew up on the Van Duzen river in the Hydesville and Carlotta areas. His father was a cattle rancher and my friend Lee worked with his dad when he was a teenager in the 1930's. Lee told me that during august + september when he would herd cattle to a pasture across the river on horseback, the shallowest fords were deep enough that his horse had to swim! He also said there was a hole at the mouth of Yager creek that was well over 20' deep and over a quarter mile long in the summer time. And at the mouth of the V.D. there was a 4'-5' drop (falls) where it emptied into the Eel.

03/26/2009 - Location: Scotia
Submitted by: S. Smith

Tale: If you want to see something really exciting, go to the van duzen under the 101 bridge the night before the first good rain, usually in november or december. You will witness hundreds of salmon shooting up the river in the low, clear water no deeper than your shins. they are so bright, they look like mirrors when you shine a light on them. There are A LOT more fish than people realize. Somehow they know when the rain is coming.

01/02/2007 - Location: Grizzly Creek
Submitted by: Mike Guerriero

Tale: On December 19th at Grizzly Creek, I observed 10 chinook spawning in two reds located 50 and 100yards upstream from the highway bridge. On January 1 I observed 2 chinook spanwning in the riffle 50 yards upstream from the bridge.

11/19/2006 - Location: Chetham-Hely
Submitted by: Mike Guerriero

Tale: On a paddle through Swimmers Delight, I observed 4 chinook salmon. A pair appeared to be spawning in the riffle downstream from the fallen redwoods restoration project. The river was just clearing for limited visibility. I also saw a bald eagle, and was joined for a stretch by a kingfisher flying back and forth along the river.

11/24/05 Thanksgiving Day Salmon Sighting Riverside Park Rd. Upriver of Parker Hole

Naomi and I went for a walk with Omar, the big dog. There is a spot upriver from Parker Hole that salmon spawned last year. We were invited to quite a show with a large female and many males vying for here attention. So far this year I had not actually witnessed any salmon just seen videos of the November 4th migration.

Naomi spotted the white tail of a female hanging out of the riffle in a pool by the banks. She rolled and showed herself to us. IT was so exciting to see our 1st salmon of the year. We watched her for about 20 minutes. She came toward us and we could see her entirely. She was a good size 25-35 pounder. About 24 inches long. She played in the riffle and was beautiful. We were so happy! It made our Thanksgiving Day.

Sal Steinberg
Community Coordinator
Friends of the Van Duzen

Friends of the Van Duzen River
PO Box 315
Carlotta, CA 95528