Several fish over 30 pounds were caught on Sunday by guides running plugs or back-bouncing roe, while a massive 48-pounder also was caught.
Shannon Lemieux of Junction City, Ore., was fishing with local guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing on Sunday when he caught the 47-inch, 48-pound king near Ice Box. The trophy king hit a HawgNose FlatFish with a sardine wrap.
"The fish ran downstream and then turned around and went straight upriver, taking 300 feet of line," Martin said. "It almost spooled us. I had to row upriver for several minutes, trying to keep up with the fish, before Shannon was finally able to turn it."
The salmon hit a chrome HawgNose with a chartreuse bill and hot pink tail, Martin said.
When guides began taking out at Social Security Bar on Sunday afternoon, just about all of them had salmon in their fish boxes, with many in the 25- to 30-pound range. "It looks like Sunday was the best day of the season, size-wise," Martin said. "All of the kings I saw were bright too."
The Chetco fished for a few days last week before blowing out Wednesday. It was still high on Sunday, at 4,100 cfs, but the water was clear enough to fish, drawing big numbers of out-of-town guides. It reached 14,000 cfs late last week.
More heavy rain is expected this week, with the Chetco expected to hit 15,000 cfs by the weekend. It usually won't fish until it drops below 5,000 cfs. It was already raining hard on Sunday night, the beginning of a wet week on the Oregon Coast. Early last week, the Chetco fished well for salmon in the lower river.
Barrett Gray of Redding, fishing with Martin last Tuesday, caught a rare chum salmon on the Chetco. The fish hit a 5.0 MagLip plug. Barrett and Bruce Beck also caught their limit of wild kings with Martin.
This week's big rain will likely have salmon that have been in the river for a while spawning. That will trigger the first steelhead of the season to move upriver.