Klamath sees a healthy return of salmon in 2014

Chico resident Nick Hanna landed this nice Van Duzen steelhead Sunday while fly fishing the lower river. Photo courtesy of Evan Oetinger

Chico resident Nick Hanna landed this nice Van Duzen steelhead Sunday while fly fishing the lower river. Photo courtesy of Evan Oetinger

So much for last year being a down year on the Klamath. Turns out the number of fall Klamath River adult kings returning to the river was much higher than originally predicted. According to the Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC), who recently completed their preliminary stock assessment evaluation, 160,444 adults returned along with 22,348 jacks, or two year-old kings. The predicted run size was 92,800. The increase in returns allowed for a whopping 95,330 natural spawners, which is roughly 234 percent of what’s required. Based on the number of jacks that returned, which is used as one of the factors in predicting next year’s run, we should be in for another good year on the Klamath. Last year’s sport quota for the entire Klamath Basin was 4,128 adults, which was based on the 92,800 run size. Looking at the actual numbers, we could see a much higher sport quota in 2015.

Iron Gate Hatchery on the upper Klamath also saw a spike in returning adults. On an average year, roughly 15,000 will return. In 2014, 24,300 returned. Add in another 6,975 that returned to the Trinity River Hatchery, and we’re about 7,000 fish over the 35-year average for both hatcheries combined.

The upper Klamath tributaries, including the Salmon, Scott, and Shasta Rivers, also saw an increase in the returning salmon. The Shasta River has historically been the most important Chinook salmon spawning stream in the upper Klamath River, supporting a spawning escapement of 27,600 adults as recently as 2012 and 63,700 in 1935. The escapement in 2014 to the Shasta River was 14,412 adults. Escapement to the Salmon and Scott Rivers was 2,706 and 10,419 adults, respectively.

Next up is the annual Salmon Information meeting, which was being held today in Santa Rosa. Ocean abundance will be discussed, which will then trickle down to river quotas. To view the ocean salmon fishery report, visit www.pcouncil.org/wp content/uploads/salsafe2014_FullDocument.pdf.

PFMC set to meet March 6-12
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) and its advisory bodies will meet March 6-12, 2015 in Vancouver, Washington to address issues related to salmon, Pacific halibut, highly migratory species, ecosystem based management, and habitat matters.On the agenda are the alternatives for the 2015 ocean salmon fisheries for public review.

Trinity steelhead, salmon tags worth cash
If you’ve been successful catching steelhead and salmon on the Trinity River, a $10-50 reward could be yours. All you need to do is return your fish tags this season according to a press release issued Wednesday by the CDFW. Of the more than 4,500 fish that were tagged, 3,000 are eligible for a cash reward.

CDFW uses information gathered from the tags applied to Chinook, coho and steelhead in the Trinity River system to calculate harvest and help biologists estimate population size of steelhead and salmon runs. Only tags returned to CDFW in the same season they are obtained can be used in estimates. The timely return of tags to CDFW is critical because the data is also needed for the annual season setting process.

Reward tags are clearly marked, though any tag returned is appreciated. The information non-reward tags are equally important to the process.  When the tag is returned, CDFW will send you information about where and when your fish was tagged, in addition to any reward for which you might qualify. For more information, visit https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/north-coast-anglers-could-be-rewarded-for-returning-fish-tags-in-timely-manner.

Weekend Weather
We’ll be seeing periods of light rain beginning Thursday evening according to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service. He said, “Thursday and Friday we’ll see some showers and they’ll start to taper off on Saturday. Another weak system will bring a few showers on Monday. Del Norte could see anywhere from a half to an inch of rain from Thursday through Saturday while Humboldt may see a quarter to a half. The rainfall totals will definitely be less as you move south.”

The Rivers:
Chetco River
Guide Val Early of Early Fishing Guide reports the Chetco continues to drop. “It is very low and very clear. There are very few fish being caught really, with mostly downrunners. We’re hoping for rain, which might bring a little blast of March fish,” Early added. As of Wednesday, flows were down to 860 cfs.

Smith River
The Smith is low, clear, and snaggy. There were a few steelhead caught during last weeks derby, but not many. Most of the action has been below the 199 bridge fishing in the slots and wherever there’s broken water. The rain coming this weekend isn’t predicted to put much of a rise in the river.

Eel River (main stem)
Paul Grundman of Rio Dell’s Grundmans Sporting Goods reports the main stem Eel has good color, but is still a little on the pushy side. “I’ve seen a couple boats fishing from Rio Dell down, so I know it’s fishable. As the water drops, the fishing should only get better,” Grundman added.

Eel River (South Fork)
The South Fork is in great shape and has been fishing down to the forks since the weekend. Boats are reporting between 2 and 6 hookups per trip.

Van Duzen
According to Grundman, the Van Duzen has been fishing since Sunday, though reports have been hard to come by. As of Wednesday, flows were down to 250 cfs and it was clearing quickly.

Mad River
The Mad is green and in perfect shape reports Justin Kelly of RMI Outdoors in Eureka. He said, “From what I’m hearing, there isn’t a lot of fresh hatchery fish in the river. The best action has been above the hatchery where most of the fish being caught are not clipped. Roe along with jigs under bobbers have been the go to baits.”

Upper Trinity
According to Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service, the Trinity is in great shape, with the water levels and color being just about perfect. The river has some fresh fish in the system as well as a group of downrunners too. Your best bet will be in the morning or late in the afternoon. All methods are working; from roe, plugs, nightcrawlers to flies. The warm sunny weather is nice, but it’s not steelhead weather,” Huber added.

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com 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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