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Fishing opportunities abound in the Eel River Valley. Every August the Chinook Salmon, more commonly known as King Salmon due to their size, begin to enter the mouth of the river. To access fishing in the lower river, take Cannibal Island Road off of Eel River Drive due west of the town of Loleta. On the right side of this road, before passing over the bridge, you will find a boat ramp for launching.
In the fall, when the river is closed to upstream fishing, many locals fish below Snag Pool on the Ferndale side of the river. This is your best bet for catching a King Salmon. When the salmon are in, trolled anchovies or spinners work well here.
The next good fishing area is called The Boxcars and is located between Fernbridge and Main Street exit in Fortuna. Probably the best area to catch salmon from shore is on Riverwalk Drive. Anywhere along the levee one can try their luck with either bait or lures. Salmon, up to 50 pounds, are routinely hooked in this area each fall.
There are excellent fishing areas throughout the entire Eel River system. Fortuna, however, is the center of the action in fall and early winter. Conveniently located with gas, food, lodging, licenses and tackle nearby, world-class salmon and steelhead fishing is available within walking distance of the river. This makes Fortuna the number one destination for those wishing to try their luck at landing one of these Eel River brutes.
Early December finds the salmon run at its peak and steelhead just starting to enter the river. Fortuna is a great place to get information on where to fish or hire a professional guide to get you out on the river in a prime location to hook a fish. Although tightening restrictions allowing you to take only one salmon and no steelhead may deter those whose main interest lies in catching, keeping, and eating a fish, the regulations will only help the true sportsmen whose main interest is in catch and release fishing.
Aside from the fishing, the scenery on the lower Eel River near Fortuna is breathtaking. Bright silver King Salmon leaping into the air, ducks, seals and river otters, deer, Blue Heron, osprey, and even an occasional Bald Eagle or elusive mountain lion sighting bear witness to the area's bounty of wildlife.
This area is truly magnificent, from the tall Redwoods along the upper stretches of the river to the farmland with views of the surrounding hills.