Hoopa proposing weir fishery targeting Trinity hatchery Coho

Marty Mullarkey, pictured right, of Half Moon Bay spent Valentine’s weekend with her husband Rob along with guide Val Early, pictured left. The couple had a great time and landed some nice steelhead while fishing the Chetco River. Photo courtesy of Early Fishing Guide Service

Marty Mullarkey, pictured right, of Half Moon Bay spent Valentine’s weekend with her husband Rob along with guide Val Early, pictured left. The couple had a great time and landed some nice steelhead while fishing the Chetco River.
Photo courtesy of Early Fishing Guide Service

by Kenny Priest/Fishing the North Coast

More dry weather on the horizon

In a draft proposal published on their website, the Hoopa Valley Tribe is planning to conduct a selective fishery using a weir and targeting Trinity River Hatchery Coho salmon beginning in mid-October and running through November of 2015. The selective fishery will occur within the exterior boundaries of the Hoopa Valley Reservation with an overall harvest impact of no more than 10,000 adult hatchery Coho salmon identified by the absence of the right maxillary bone.

The plan anticipates full mitigation at Trinity River Hatchery and near full exploitation of hatchery Coho salmon. Conservation of non-hatchery-origin (“natural”) Coho is affected through (1) selective removal of hatchery adults while passing natural Coho salmon upstream, and (2) a sorting weir in vicinity of Lewiston for regulating presence of hatchery spawners and collecting natural brood stock for use at TRH.

The need for mitigation at TRH arose with creation of the Trinity River Division of the Central Valley Project in California including construction of the Trinity and Lewiston dams that divert a substantial portion of the river’s flow to the Central Valley of California for agricultural, and municipal and industrial uses. Lewiston Dam, completed in 1963, is the upstream limit of anadromy, blocking access to 109 miles of salmon and steelhead spawning and rearing habitat in the upper river (including significant reaches of Coho salmon habitat rated with high intrinsic potential by NOAA 2012). The Trinity River Hatchery was constructed at the base of Lewiston Dam to mitigate for the loss of anadromous fish habitat above TRD. The hatchery is located at river mile 110 near the town of Lewiston in Trinity County.

The logistics of the plan include:

  1. Weir would be deployed at a point nearest the Hoopa South boundary to avoid interactions with the gill net fishery. This reach also has favorable characteristics for weir deployment such as minimal valley constraint, relatively shallow contour and gravel substrate.
  2. Dates for operation are approximately October 20 through November 30. Installation date could vary to minimize conflict with the tribal member gill net fishery.
  3. Hours of weir operation are 24 hours each day.
  4. The weir will be operated by Hoopa Valley Tribal Members engaged in private contract with the HVTC (9 weeks total, which includes 1 week for installing, 6 weeks of fishing, one week for removal and storage). Contract fishers will observe a rotation of three-8-hour shifts with 4 fishers per shift.
  5. Hoopa Tribal Fisheries Department staff will monitor and provide scientific support only during harvest and possible weir installation.
  6. Fish will be captured in the weir “corral”, marked fish will be removed to totes on trailers and unmarked fish will be delivered back to the river for upstream migration.

To view the entire plan, visit https://www.hoopa-nsn.gov/news/fisheries-dept-releases-draft-2015-coho-management-plan.

Weather update
According to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service, expect to see dry conditions until at least next Friday along the North Coast. “The ridge of high pressure has settled in, but it looks like we may have a change in the pattern on the 27th,” Kennedy added.

Rowdy Creek Steelhead Derby this weekend
If you plan on heading to the Smith or Chetco this weekend, keep in mind Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery Steelhead Derby is taking place Friday and Saturday. A total of 22 teams, consisting of 44 boats will be splitting time between the two rivers.

CDFW to Hold Public Meeting on Ocean Salmon Fisheries
The Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites the public to attend its upcoming annual ocean salmon information meeting. A review of last year’s ocean salmon fisheries and spawning escapement will be presented, in addition to the outlook for this year’s sport and commercial ocean salmon fisheries. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sonoma County Water Agency, 404 Aviation Blvd. in Santa Rosa. For more information, visit www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/salmonpreseason.asp or contact Kandice Morgenstern at (707) 576-2879 or kandice.morgenstern@wildlife.ca.gov.

The Rivers:

Chetco River
According to Guide Val Early of Early Fishing Guide Service, conditions have really changed on the Chetco in the past week. She said, “We are now low and clear with very little flow even though the cfs is still decent. The way the river moved around (gravel bars) caused a bit less flow in a few of the flats. This weekend will be tough fishing ­— made even a bit tougher with the 22 teams for the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery derby. It’s time for stealth methods and most importantly, you’ll need to stay off the fish as they are pretty spooky.” 

Smith River
The steelhead action has been slow for most of the guides on the Smith this week with scores ranging from zero to 3 adults per trip. The clear conditions certainly aren’t helping, and with no rain in the foreseeable future, fishing will remain tough. The river is dropping slowly, and was flowing at just above 8-feet on Wednesday evening.

Eel River (main stem)
Paul Grundman of Rio Dell’s Grundmans Sporting Goods reports the main stem Eel was starting to turn, and the edges are starting to clear. “The Scotia area will be marginal this weekend,” said Grundman.

Eel River (South Fork)
The South Fork is in great shape from Benbow down to just above the Landsdale area, though the reports from Wednesday were it was pretty tough fishing. It should fish down to the forks by late in the weekend.

Van Duzen
The Van Duzen is fishable, but the lower end is still slightly off color according to Grundman. “The river conditions above Yager Creek should be great, but the bottom was still a little milky, but fishable.” Grundman added.

Mad River
The Mad is just starting to drop into shape, with about of foot of visibility as of Wednesday according to reports. Quite a few anglers were on the water Wednesday, but very few fish were hooked. There’s a good possibility the last big rise flushed the majority of the fish back to the ocean. We should have a good idea how many fish are around this weekend as the river should be green and bait-fishable.

Upper Trinity
Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service reports the upper Trinity is in great shape and the mud coming from the lake has cleared. “I fished it over the weekend and the water is nice and green, but still a little on the high side. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of winter fish up high, but the half-pounders are plentiful. There’s been quite a bit of effort in the Junction City area, which is probably where most of the adults are being caught,” Huber said.

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

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