Potential closure for Klamath/Trinity springers

At last week’s meeting in Sacramento, the California Fish and Game Commission accepted a petition to list Upper Klamath-Trinity River Spring Chinook Salmon as endangered, starting the process of a status review to be completed by the CDFW. The one-year review will determine if a CESA listing by the Commission may be warranted. After reviewing the best scientific data available, CDFW will either make a recommendation to the Commission to list the springers as either endangered or threatened. Determining the listing is not warranted is also an option.

Information was submitted by the Karuk Tribe and Salmon River Restoration Council suggesting declining population trends and a low abundance, making the spring-run salmon vulnerable to extinction. The Commission’s action results in spring Chinook salmon being designated as a Candidate Species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), which provides the same protections as species listed as endangered and threatened under CESA.

The following emergency fishing regulations were adopted by the commission at the urging of the CDFW to reconcile them with the CESA protections.

  • Klamath River main stem from the mouth of the river to Iron Gate dam. Closed to salmon fishing from the anticipated effective date of February 22 (subject to approval from the Office of Administrative Law (OAL)) to August 14.
  • Trinity River main stem from its confluence to the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat. Closed to salmon fishing from the anticipated effective date of February 22 (subject to OAL approval) to August 31.
  • Trinity River main stem from upstream of the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat to Old Lewiston Bridge. Closed to salmon fishing from the anticipated effective date of February 22 (subject to OAL approval) to October 15.

Fishing for Upper Klamath-Trinity River fall Chinook salmon will be allowed in these areas after the closure dates listed above. Quotas, bag and possession limits for fall Chinook salmon will be adopted by the Commission in May of this year. Steelhead fishing will be allowed year-round with normal bag and possession limits.

CDFW will also be working with federal regulatory bodies regarding ocean fishing regulations. Providing a little glimmer of hope for anglers, the Commission asked the CDFW to work with affected counties, fishing organizations, Tribes and conservation groups, to investigate options to allow some recreational spring Chinook salmon fishing in 2019. Under Section of 2084 of Fish and Game Code, the Commission can consider hook-and-line recreational fishing on a Candidate Species. CDFW will present the results of that stakeholder collaboration and potential options at the Commission’s next public meeting, which will be held April 17 in Santa Monica. For more information, visit https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2019/02/07/commission-accepts-listing-petition-requires-closure-of-some-recreational-fishing-in-klamath-basin/

The weather ahead
“Widespread rain is in the forecast for the next few days,” said Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “It looks like we’ll see rain into the weekend, with little breaks between systems before we start to dry out on Monday. From Wednesday through Saturday evening, the Smith basin can expect two to four inches of rain. The Mad basin can expect two to four inches, with potentially five inches falling in the hills.  The Eel basin could see two to three inches in the lower river, while higher in the watershed in Southern Humboldt could see up to six inches. A weak front is forecasted for Wednesday, followed by the next round of storms expected to hit by the weekend,” said Zontos.

Shelter Cove forms fishing organization
With the Humboldt Bay Harbor District potentially relinquishing the boat launching services in Shelter Cove in 2019, a group of locals have decided to form a local fishing organization. The Shelter Cove Fishing Preservation Inc. was formed to be a collective voice for the fishing community and help deal with the many issues Shelter Cove faces, the most immediate issue being a lack of a boat launching operation in 2019. “Shelter Cove’s ability to grow or survive as a fishing community and point of destination depends almost entirely on the boat launch service,” said Jake Mitchell, president of the SCFPI. “It quickly became evident that the group would need to be able to run the boat launch service moving forward. In addition to providing permanent public access to the ocean, the group will also be working on establishing feature infrastructure to support the recreational and commercial fishing fleets,” added Mitchell.

The group is a publicly supported non-profit corporation dedicated to preserving the fishing heritage of Shelter Cove. It’s the goal and mission to help build a viable, sustainable fishing venue for Shelter Cove. The group is incorporated as a California Public Benefit nonprofit corporation and have submitted an IRS Exemption letter. Donations are currently being accepted at Umpqua Bank in SCFPI’s account or mailed  to Shelter Cove Fishing Preservation Inc., PO Box 87 Whitethorn, CA 95589. For more information, you can visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/scfpinc or email them at scfpinc@gmail.com.

Free fishing days Feb. 16-17 in Oregon
It’s free to fish, crab or clam on the Saturday and Sunday of President’s Day Weekend, Feb. 16-17. During these two days, no fishing licenses or tags (including a Combined Angling Tag and a Columbia River Basin Endorsement) are required to fish, crab or clam anywhere in Oregon. Although no licenses or tags are required, all other regulations apply including closures, bag limits and size restrictions. For more information, visit https://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2019/02_Feb/020819.asp

David Manning of Santa Rosa holds a steelhead he caught Feb. 8 while fishing the Chetco River with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. The fish was donated to the broodstock hatchery program.
 Photo courtesy Andy Martin/Wild Rivers Fishing

The Rivers:
“After a solid week of fishing, despite cold water temperatures, the Chetco blew out on Tuesday and will likely remain high through the weekend,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Heavy rain combined with melting snow will leave the river too high to fish at least through Friday and probably through Sunday. Last week, lots of fish were spread throughout the river. Most guides were getting two to four a day. Fishing should be good for next week’s Rowdy Creek Derby.”

According to Martin, the Rogue blew out Wednesday after fishing well for the past week. “The Rogue is seeing a good return of hatchery steelhead so far this winter. It is expected to be high through the weekend, especially with lots of runoff from the Illinois River,” added Martin.

Smith River
Fishing on the Smith has been off and on over the past week reports Crescent City guide Mike Coopman. “There’s definitely some fish around, we went two for five on Tuesday with very few boats on the water. With some pretty big storms coming the next couple days, we’ll likely be off the water until at least Saturday. There’s a lot of snow on the ground, so that could change the river predictions. I’m expecting the conditions to be really good by late weekend and into early next week.” Coopman added.

Eel River (main stem)
The main stem Eel is a long way from being fishable, and it’s about to get longer. With heavy rain predicted in the headwaters, the man Eel is forecasted to hit 183,000 cfs at Scotia by Thursday evening. It’s also predicted to rise to 22-feet late Thursday or early Friday morning at Fernbridge. Monitor stage at this location is 14-feet and flood stage is 22-feet. It will take a couple weeks of dry weather before it’s even close to fishable.

Eel River (South Fork)The South Fork was running at nearly 9,000 cfs as of Wednesday and is predicted to go much higher. With heavy rain predicted through Saturday, flows are expected to reach 34,000 cfs by Thursday afternoon. It will take roughly a week of dry weather to drop back into fishable shape.

Van Duzen
The Van Duzen had been running at only 1,000 cfs last weekend and into this week due to most of the precipitation falling as snow in the upper watershed. That changed on Tuesday evening, and it’s on a pretty steep rise as of Wednesday. It’s predicted to peak at just over 17,000 cfs on Thursday afternoon. It’s predicted to drop quickly, and with dry weather could fish late next week.

Mad River
A few fish were caught by the liners earlier in the week, but the river has since risen and turned muddy reports Justin Kelly of Eureka’s RMI Outdoors. “Fishing was really good late last week and the weekend before it really blew out. With a few more storms lined up, it will be a couple weeks before it’s green again,” added Kelly. As of Wednesday, the Mad was running at 4,600 cfs and was predicted to peak at nearly 11,000 cfs late Thursday night.

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