use code: SPIN
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The Smith River is a river on the Pacific coast of northern California , approximately 20 mi (32 km) long. It drains a rugged area of the Pacific Coast Ranges west of the Siskiyou Mountains just south of the Oregon border and north of the watershed of the Klamath River. It is the largest river system in California that flows freely along its entire course. It was named for the explorer Jedediah Smith. It is formed by the confluence of its Middle and North forks in Del Norte County, in the extreme northwest corner of California, near the community of Gasquet. The Middle Fork (20 mi/32 km) rises in Del Norte County, approximately 60 miles northeast of Crescent City, and flows south. The North Fork of the Smith River rises in Oregon on the northeast slope of Chetco Peak. The South Fork of the Smith River enters the Smith River near the community of Berteleda. The South Fork (25 mi/40 km) rises on the eastern edge of the Smith River National Recreation Area, approximately 30 mi (48 km) east-northeast of Crescent City, flowing southwest and then northwest. From the confluence with the South Fork, the Smith River flows generally northwest, entering the Pacific Ocean near the community of Smith River, approximately 10 miles (16 km) north of Crescent City. The free-flowing nature of the river—without a single dam along its entire length—makes it especially prized among conservationists and is considered one of the crown jewels of the National Wild and Scenic River program. The Smith River while relatively short, should not be measured by its size, but by the size of its fish. The Smith consistently produces some of the biggest fish in Northern California. With the occasional King reaching over 80 pounds, Steelhead commonly over 20, and larger than average sea-run Cutthroat, it's not hard to see why The Smith is among the Fishhound staffs favorites. The Steelies are usually in from December to March, the Kings from October to Decemeber, the Cutty's come up late spring through early fall. There is good but intermittent road access all along the river. Look for access details on our fishing spot pages. Overall, look for pullouts and spur roads that will lead you to the water. Jedediah State Park has many areas to gain access and fish some good water.
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