Bibliography Background About KRIS

Bear River Articles and Excerpts about Fisheries and Watershed Conditions

Information compiled by Susie Van Kirk April, 1998

Newspaper References

Alta California (AC) San Francisco
Blue Lake Advocate (BLA), 1888-1969
Ferndale Enterprise (FE), 1878-present
Humboldt Standard (HS), 1876-1967, Eureka
Humboldt Times (HT), 1854-present as Times-Standard, Eureka
The West Coast Signal, 1871-1879, Eureka



AC (26 Aug. 1851) "San Francisco, August 22, 1851, Gentlemen: While recently on a visit to Humboldt Bay, I took occasion to ride over, in company with a friend, to the Eel river valley, a region of this State so fertile and so beautiful...While we were in the vicinity, Mr. Dobbins...explored a stream in the southward of Eel river.  He reports the country to be no less beautiful than any he has seen, abounding in elk and in 'gisleys' feeding about, in his own words, like hogs.  The stream which for this reason he calls Bear river debouches into the Pacific among the rocks just north of Cape Mendocino..."

HT (22 Jan. 1870) High Water--On Saturday and Sunday last, Eel River, Bear River, Mattole River and Mad River were running banks full of water.  Travel across these streams, except where ferries are established, was interrupted during those days...

WCS (11 Oct. 1876) The Bear River Region--...A few rods below Cape Horn one has a fine view of the valley of Bear river, old Ocean with its dancing waves, and, if it is sunset, the crimson and gold-tinted clouds, to add to the already enchanting scene.  The river winds among the trees like a blue ribbon, past the white houses which gleam among the leaves like pearls set in emeralds.  So much for the beauties of the valley, now for its utility, situation, etc.
        Bear River valley lies between some of the hills of the Coast Range, and does not exceed half a mile in width at the widest point.  The main river, or North Fork, takes it rise some seventeen or eighteen miles inland, just southeast of Mount Pierce, more familiarly known as "The Monument," and empties into the ocean.  It is as full of kinks and turns as an old maid's temper, and in ascending it a distance of five miles, one has to ford it about twenty times.  The wagon road lies in the bed of the river often, as the banks are so perpendicular it is impossible to go on the land.  The whole valley is used for dairying purposes, the hills making fine ranges for the cows.
        The first settlement was made in 1855 by Mr. Odell and his partner Mr. Fred Cassins.  They had a stock ranch first, though now it is used as a dairy.  The same year Wm. I. Webster settled three miles up the river on what has since been known as the Webster Place.  It is now owned by Mr. Russ.  There are ten dairy ranches on the river, three of which are owned by Mr. Russ, the remainder by well-known citizens.  They run from 40 to 100 cows.  Mr. Harkins' ranch, at the mouth of the river, has 100 cows, and in the height of the season averages a pound of butter a day to each cow.  "Excelsior Ranch," (one of Mr. Russ') has 100 cows and averages 90 pounds a day at this time.  A School House, situated in a central locality, affords opportunity for instruction for such as choose to avail themselves of it.  Devine services are held in this building occasionally, thought there is no local minister...

HT (23 July 1881) Fishing--Good fishing is reported in trout streams throughout the county...A party of campers on Bear river not long since scored excellent success with the rod and line.

FE (6 Dec. 1898) Spearing for salmon is becoming a popular pastime in Bear river of late, the mouth of that stream having been opened.  The fish are quite plentiful there, so we are told.

FE (24 Oct. 1899) The mouth of Bear river was opened last week and a large number of salmon are said to be entering that stream.  Salmon spearing is now in order in that vicinity.

FE (5 Oct. 1900) The week's rain raised Mattole and Bear rivers several feet, making these streams so muddy that trout fishing could not be indulged in.  The mouths of these streams are open and salmon are entering.

FE (18 Nov. 1904) The Bear river people have been having all kinds of sport of late spearing salmon at the mouth of this stream.  Last Tuesday George Morrison captured 42 fish at the mouth of the river in this way.

FE (3 Aug. 1906) Fly fishing in Bear river is reported excellent at the present time, and many good catches are being made in the stream.

FE (7 May 1909) Dwight Felt of Capetown, who was in Ferndale this week, states that many steelheads have been caught in Bear river of late.

BLA (23 Dec. 1911) With two and a half tons of salmon taken from the Mattole river near Petrolia, John Titus assisted by David Ball and Albert Thompson arrived in Ferndale Tuesday, the fish being taken to Weeott for disposal to a salmon buyer.  William Hixon also brought up 1500 pounds of fish from Bear river, John Preston having caught the salmon.  They were taken to the Port Kenyon cannery and disposed of. 

FE (16 July 1912) Says the Eureka Herald--Charles Blaisdell has returned from a fishing trip to Bear river and reports that stream to be literally swarming with trout.  He was accompanied to Bear river from Scotia by Martin Anderson, and, fishing with flies, they caught the limit in two hours.  Blaisdell says Bear river is the best trout stream he has ever fished on and he intends to go there frequently for a day of sport this season.

FE (19 Nov. 1915) The fish and game wardens have announced that with the exception of Eel river and a portion of Mad river, all streams in this county are closed to net fishing.  This means that it is unlawful to use nets either in the Mattole or Bear river.

FE (2 July 1920) Will Make Effort to Get Streams Stocked--An effort is to be made to get from the State Fish and Game Commission a large number of young rainbow trout to be placed in the waters of the Mattole river, Bear river and Davis creek.
        At the Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Ferndale Tuesday this matter was brought up by Dr. A.M. Dinsmore and met with the hearty approval of those present.
        It has been the policy of the Fish and Game Commission to furnish trout whenever possible for stocking streams, local people attending to the work of planting the fry in the streams.  If the Commission is able to furnish the trout, the services of volunteers will be asked to attend to placing them...
        Anglers of southern Humboldt will anxiously await a reply from the Commission, as the planting of the rainbow in these streams would assure fine sport in a few years.

FE (19 Aug. 1921) Rainbow Trout Planted Tuesday--Last Tuesday evening a shipment of 20,000 rainbow trout was received from the hatchery at Steelhead in compliance with a request filed some months ago by the Ferndale Chamber of Commerce.
        The little fellows were taken in charge by R.M. Poole, C.R. Thompson and W.A. Bartlett and the same evening were planted in Bear river, Davis Creek and the Mattole river.
        This should do much toward stocking these streams with the gamy rainbow, and if a few thousand were planted each year it would tend to keep up the supply which is threatened by reason of the great number taken out.

FE (25 Aug. 1922) Thirty cans of rainbow trout were planted in Bear and Mattole rivers last Saturday by Fred Rushmore, Chas. Thompson and R.M. Poole of Ferndale.

FE (8 June 1923) A large number of steelhead were planted in Eel river this week from the Steelhead hatchery.  It had been planned to put thirty cans of these fish in Bear river and the Mattole, but at the meeting of the Humboldt Fish and Game Association in Eureka last Tuesday night, it was the general opinion that it would be more advisable to plant rainbow trout in these streams and accordingly a supply of rainbow will be secured at a later date, probably in August.

FE (2 May 1924) Fishing Season Opened Yesterday--The fishing season opened yesterday, May 1st, and the many trout streams in the county were lined with anglers.  The day was observed as a holiday in Ferndale, the stores and business houses being closed and dozens of our people went fishing.
        Bear river and the Mattole attracted the greatest number of anglers, there being many from Eureka, Fortuna, and other parts of the county as well as from Ferndale.  Many steelhead were reported in these streams and it is safe to say that some good catches were made, though the anglers had not returned at the time the Enterprise was put on the press yesterday.
        There will be some great stories the next few days regarding the big ones which were caught and the still bigger ones that got away.

FE (1 May 1925) Trout Season Opens Today--Today, May 1st, is the big day to which the disciples of Izaak Walton look forward to during the long winter months, for today is the opening of the trout season.
        While most of the larger streams are too high and roily for good trout fishing, many of the smaller creeks will be in good condition and should furnish plenty of sport.
        Many local anglers will be found along the nearby creeks, while there will be some who will go to Bear river and the Mattole river.  While the latter streams are believed to be too high for good fishing, it is possible that some fair catches will be made there...

FE (24 July 1925) It is planned to make a planting of 37,500 young trout in Bear river next week.  The fish will be from the Fort Seward hatchery and the plantings will be made at the expense of the Humboldt Fish and Game Association.  They will be taken off the train at Fernbridge and transported to Bear river by truck.

FE (7 May 1926) Many Fish Taken on Opening Day of Trout Season--Last Saturday, May 1st, was the opening day of the trout season and several hundred fishermen lined the banks of the different streams in Humboldt county. 
        Many limit catches of trout were taken but the fish as a rule were small, though a few good catches of good-sized trout are reported.
        The Mattole and Bear rivers attracted anglers from all over the county and nearly everybody got the limit of small trout.  A few steelheads were hooked in these streams.  The small fish are unusually plentiful in both rivers and this gives promise of some fine fishing later in the season.

FE (6 May 1927) Anglers Had Poor Luck on Opening Day--Last Sunday, May 1st, was the opening day of the trout season and hundreds of Humboldters tried their luck on the various streams and lagoons.  Most of them returned home in the evening with empty creels or with a very few fish, mostly small...
        Bear river and the Mattole were visited by several Ferndale anglers but were found too high for fishing.  Even the North Fork of the Mattole, which usually furnishes good sport at this time of the year, was not in condition for fishing and but few trout were taken there...

FE (6 July 1928) Twenty-five thousand steelhead will be placed in Bear river tonight and another lot of 25,000 will be planted in the same stream tomorrow night.  The fish came from the hatchery at Steelhead, near Fort Seward.

FE (13 July 1928) Fifty Thousand Young Fish Put into Bear River--Under the supervision of Game Warden W.F. Kaliher, a planting of fifty thousand young steelhead was made in Bear river this week.
        The fish, which were from the Steelhead hatchery near Fort Seward, were transported to Bear river on Monday and Tuesday evenings, 25,000 each evening.  Adolph Capwell with his truck took them down and they reached there in good condition, reports Warden Kaliher.
        The young fish were released on Monday evening near the Mozzini place and on Tuesday evening about a mile above.  Warden Kaliher was engaged Tuesday morning in brushing out a road up the river that the truck might get through that evening with the fish to the spot selected for releasing them.
        The young fish can now be seen in the shallow pools, reports Warden Kaliher, and seem to be thriving.  Their presence in the stream should result in some good sport for the anglers in Bear river within the next few years.
FE (18 July 1930) Fry Planted--...On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, twenty-five thousand fry were placed each day in Bear river, in the vicinity of the Ambrosini ranch.

FE (12 June 1931) Ferndale Fish and Game Association Met Tuesday Eve--...Tom Petersen of Fortuna, captain of volunteer wardens of the county, gave a report on trout planting activities.  He stated that 30,000 steelhead would be planted in the Mattole river within a few days, also a like number in Bear river.  These plantings will be followed by more later...

FE (14 Aug. 1931) Fish and Game Assn. Meeting Tuesday Night--...Tom Petersen of Fortuna, Captain of the volunteer wardens of the county, gave a report of rainbow trout plantings for the local association which he had supervised.  He showed that 225,000 trout had been planted under the auspices of the Ferndale club as follows:
        ...Bear river at Barbettini's 25,000, South Fork of Bear river at Lowry's 25,000...

FE (15 July 1932) Shipment of Trout Arrives--Jos. J. Bognuda, secretary of the Ferndale Fish and Game Club, received a notice stating that 75,000 fingerling trout would arrive the latter part of this week.  The first shipment arrived Thursday, July 14, consisting of 25,000 trout.  This shipment will be planted in Bear river...

FE (14 July 1933) Creeks Enriched with Steelhead Fry--...Fifty thousand [fingerling steelhead trout] are due this week end and will be planted twenty-five thousand in Bear River and twenty-five thousand in Guthrie.  The fry were contributed by the state hatchery at Steelhead.

FE (18 May 1934) Sports Notes by Waldner--...Bear River seemed to be the most popular stream last week end and most of the large number of fishing parties there had good luck.  Mr. and Mrs. Penny Robarts, fishing near the head of the stream, each caught the limit.  Mr. and Mrs. Doc Reid, Mr. and Mrs. S. Berry, Mr. and Mrs. B. Cunningham and Sid Pixton found time to catch a plentiful mess of trout...

FE (23 Aug. 1935) Hook and Line--...Seth Scribner of Fortuna caught the limit of big, fat trout at the headwaters of Bear River on Monday...

FE (8 Nov. 1935) Hook and Line--...Bear River has not opened up yet but the big fellows [winter steelhead] should enter the stream right after the next rains...

FE (20 Dec. 1935)...The Mattole has been excellent for several days and a few steelhead have been taken in Bear River.

FE (11 Feb. 1938) Old Fashioned Winter Continues to Bring Trouble--"Just an old fashioned winter" is the expression most often heard from the pioneer residents of this section, when the weather is mentioned, but to many of the younger generation the winter storms the state and county have witnessed are an entirely new experience.  In the present storm there have been few hours of clear weather in the past 11 days...
        Probably the most spectacular development in the sliding water soaked land in northern California occurred near the mouth of Bear River.  Without warning early Wednesday morning nearly ten acres of steep mountain land moved across Bear River at a point approximately 400 yards upstream from the mouth of the river.  The huge slide occurred on the south side of the river on what is known locally as Pacific's Point.  It crossed the river which is from 200 to 300 feet wide and threw boulders and trees several hundred feet into a grain field on the N.P. Genzoli ranch opposite the slide.  The dam was estimated at from 30 to 50 feet high and it was feared that it would force the swollen Bear River into the Genzoli grain field some forty feet above the river bed to cut a new outlet.  Plans were made during the day to dynamite an opening through the obstruction, however, it was not necessary as the river flowed over the top of the dam and broke through in its old channel at 2 o'clock Wednesday afternoon.
        Up until the time of the break in the dam the water formed a lake estimated at a mile and a half long and a mile wide.  Near the dam it reached a height of about forty feet.

FE (18 Feb. 1938) Random Thoughts By Waldner--Pacific Genzoli told me an interesting thing about the slide that came in at his ranch and blocked Bear River last week.  He said that it started about 600 feet above the river surface and that in 1894 it made its first break.  Pacific's father watched the 1894 break, then came home and told Mrs. Genzoli to pack up the children and move out.  The mountain only moved a short distance that time and waited 44 years before the big blow off.

HS (3 June 1941) Fisherman's Luck by Chet Schwarzkopf--...Johnny Baylor got a limit on Bear river with bait and flies and reported the stream in good shape.

HS (15 July 1941) Fisherman's Luck by Chet Schwarzkopf--...Bud McBeth stated that Fred Lovfald, Mrs. Lovfald and two sons got their limit of stream trout in Bear river Sunday.

HS (8 Aug. 1941) Fisherman's Luck by Chet Schwarzkopf--...Frank Pidgeon brought in a limit of nice sized stream trout Sunday, taken on Bear river near Bunker Hill with grey hackle flies.

HS (15 Aug. 1941) Fisherman's Luck by Chet Schwarzkopf--...Beginning as early as 1928, [A.A. "Art"] Garcelon's records show where hundreds of thousands of steelhead were planted yearly in such streams as Bear River, the Mattole, Russ creek, both the Van Duzens, upper Mad river and a host of others.  This was kept up for several years.  The fish were obtained from the state hatchery near Alderpoint on the main Eel river...

FE (13 Sept. 1946) Let's Go Fishing--...Charlie Thompson broke the ice with a 16-pounder on Thursday of last week.  He fished near Eastlick.  Charlie wonders how any salmon get into Eel River as on the day he caught his first there were some 16 commercial fishing boats on the Eel River bar, within a half mile of shore.  According to men living at Camp Weeott, this situation is not unusual as commercial boats are reported daily as fishing in the swells just outside the breaker line off the mouth of Eel River.  The same situation exists at the mouth of Bear River and the Mattole River.

FE (25 Oct. 1946) Let's Go Fishing--...Bear River lagoon filled up from the week end rain but did not open a channel through the sand bar to the ocean...

FE (22 Nov. 1946) Storms Welcomed to End Drought--...The Mattole and Bear rivers each broke through their lagoons to the sea with mnay salmon reported entering the Mattole and none at Bear River.

FE (6 Dec. 1946) Steelhead Fishing Receives Setback by High Water--Local fishermen were disappointed this week by a  surprise rise in local streams which again sets back the possibility of good fishing indefinitely.  Both the Mattole and Bear rivers were in perfect condition for steelhead fishing last week end and many fishermen tried each stream.  No one reported a catch, however.

FE (19 Sept. 1947) Logs Coming from Bunker Hill Area--"Timb-e-r-r-r" is a strange cry in a dairy and livestock country and one that few would expect in this district but it is as common in the Bunker Hill region as the softer "Here, sheepie, sheepie" or "So-o-o-, Boss."  With the nationwide demand, the worldwide demand, for building materials, a product other than pasture crops has become valuable on productive Bunker Hill.  Now the timber which has gone on growing unhindered for years is being harvested.
        Last week the first shipment of logs out of the Albert Hansen ranch at the Bunker Hill intersection was made.  Logging trucks make the haul regularly from the ranch to Arcata where the timber is being made into plywood, with a portion of the logs going to Fields Landing.  One log nine feet one inch at the butt was the largest to come out of the area.
        A mile of road has been constructed from the county road into the timber.  Logging operations are to the east of the county road.  One of the major problems to develop from the operation is the damage to the Wildcat Road, recently brought up to a high standard with an oil and gravel surface.

FE (8 Oct. 1948) Let's Go Fishing--...About five inches of rain fell in the Mattole last weekend and opened the lagoon at the mouth.  The river was muddy this week but should be clear by the weekend...The Bear River was not as much affected by the rain as the Mattole.

HT (30 Dec. 1948) Fisherman's Luck by Chet Schwarzkopf--...Incidentally, Bear river, below Capetown, on the way to the Mattole, has some good runs this time of year.  But remember--it is only open at tidewater, whereas the Mattole is open as far up as the Honeydew bridge.

FE (3 Nov. 1950) Worst Storm in History Isolates Ferndale Area--Under the heaviest continuous downpour in history, Ferndale, Bear River and the Mattole areas were literally swamped over the past week end...
        Residents of the Mattole and Bear River valleys were agreed that they had never seen those rivers at such heights before.  George W. Morrison, a resident of upper Bear river, said Bear River had never reached such volume and force in his memory, which goes back some 70 years...

FE (28 Dec. 1951) Bear River Closed to Winter Fishing--Anglers who have been fishing in the Bear River recently are apparently not aware of the winter steelhead trout and salmon regulations which forbid fishing that favorite winter stream.

FE (13 July 1956) Channel Work to be Done on Bear River to Protect Bridge--Contract for the restoration of the flood-damaged channel of Bear River, south of Ferndale 15 miles...was awarded to John Petersen of Beatrice last week by the U.S. Army Engineers...Two gravel bars are to be removed at Bear River upstream from the Capetown bridge.  One is 225 feet long and the other 550 feet.  The river bars were formed by the December flood and threaten to change the course of the river and cut off the Capetown county road bridge...