Spring-run Klamath salmon will open to fishing July 1

Julie Jewell, left, landed a nice spring Chinook last July on the Klamath River. Photo courtesy of Kenny Priest/Fishing the North Coast

In a press release issued on Tuesday, the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife is reminding anglers that emergency regulations affecting spring Chinook salmon fishing in the Klamath River Basin were re-adopted by the California Fish and Game Commission effective December 2019. The emergency regulations listed in California Code of Regulations prohibit fishing for spring Chinook salmon in the Klamath River Basin from Jan. 1, 2020, through June 30, 2020. Chinook salmon fishing season will be open on the lower Klamath River between July 1 and Aug. 14, and on the upper Trinity River and New River between July 1 and Aug. 31. These emergency regulations supersede spring Chinook salmon fishing regulations found in the 2019-2020 California supplemental sport fishing regulations booklet.

Upon completion of the Certificate of Compliance, the CA Fish and Game Commission is proposing to permanently adopt these emergency regulations allowing limited sport fish take of upper Klamath-Trinity spring Chinook Salmon. The proposed regulation would allow continued limited sport fishing take of UKTSCS on the Klamath River downstream of the Highway 96 bridge at Weitchpec between July 1 and August 14, and the Trinity River from the Old Lewiston Bridge to the mouth of the South Fork Trinity River between July 1 and August 31, with a bag limit of one Chinook Salmon and a possession limit of two Chinook Salmon.

Two public hearings have been scheduled where anyinterested person may present statements, orally or in writing. Both hearings will take place at the Natural Resources Building Auditorium, 1416 Ninth Street, Sacramento, California, 95814. The first hearing is Friday, February 21, 2020, at 8:30 a.m. The second hearing is scheduled for Thursday, April 16, 2020, at 8:30 a.m., or as soon thereafter as the matter may be heard. It is requested, but not required, that written comments be submitted on or before on April 2, 2020, to Fish and Game Commission, PO Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94244-2090, or by email to FGC@fgc.ca.gov. Written comments mailed, or emailed to the Commission office, must be received before 12:00 noon on April 10, 2020. All comments must be received no later than April 16, 2020, at the hearing in Sacramento.

Also, fishing for steelhead in the Klamath and Trinity rivers remains open year-round consistent with the 2019-2020 regulations booklet. The fall Chinook salmon season begins on Aug. 15, 2020, on the Klamath River and Sept. 1, 2020, on the Trinity River. Regulations pertaining to fall Chinook salmon fishing will be adopted in May 2020 and will include the annual basin quota, size, bag and possession limits, which can be found at https://fgc.ca.gov/Regulations/2020-New-and-Proposed#5.87f.

Annual salmon meeting coming in February
CDFW’s Annual Salmon Information meeting will be held February 27, at 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Sonoma County Water Agency, 404 Aviation Blvd., Santa Rosa. The meeting will cover the 2019 ocean and in-river salmon fishing seasons, Central Valley and Klamath Basin river returns, 2020 abundance forecasts, and serves as an opportunity for the public to provide input regarding the upcoming ocean salmon season. Agenda and meeting materials will be posted as they become available. Contact Grace Ghrist for more info at 707-576-2375 or Grace.Ghrist@Wildlife.ca.gov. Meeting info can be found here https://wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Salmon/preseason

Weather ahead
According to Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service, the rest of the work week is looking dry. “The next chance of rain will be Saturday, but it looks very light,” said Zontos. “The Smith basin could see up to a quarter, and here locally maybe a tenth to a quarter. It shouldn’t affect any of the river levels. We have a few chances of rain next week, mostly on Tuesday and Wednesday, then again on Friday and Saturday. Over the course of those four days, up to 1 inch could fall in the Smith basin. In the Mad River basin, we could see a half to three-quarters. The Eel will see even less,” said Zontos.

The Rivers:Chetco/Rogue/Elk/Sixes
The Chetco has been in prime shape since Saturday, and is in peak-season form according to Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He said, “Fishing is good, with steelhead spread throughout the system. The crowds have also arrived, with lots of bank fishermen, private boaters and guides. There have been a lot of hatchery fish on the lower end. Slides up high are keeping the water green.”

The Elk and Sixes are fair for steelhead reports Martin. “Boaters anchoring and running MagLips are doing very well for wild and hatchery steelhead on the Lower Rogue. Shore anglers using Spin-N-Glos also are doing well on the Rogue.”

Fortuna resident Cliff Chapman landed a nice steelhead on Monday while drifting the Smith River. Fishing on the Smith has gotten tough this week as the lack of rain has led to low and clear water conditions. Photo courtesy of Coopman’s Guide Service

Smith River
Conditions on the Smith right now are low and clear according to Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. “Fishing has been tough this week. We’re getting a few hookups per trip. A lot of the fish that were around last week have probably moved up river, and the ones around now are getting harassed by the seals. It’s making for some tough fishing. The water has also gotten colder, so the bites that we are getting are light. Hopefully some fish will come in with the king tides over the weekend,” Coopman added.

Eel River (main stem)
The main stem should be in great shape by the weekend. Flows are predicted to hit 3,500 cfs by Friday.

Eel River (South Fork)
The South Fork is in perfect shape as of earlier this week, and should be fishable through the weekend. Flows are predicted to be around 600 cfs by Monday morning. Boats fishing from Benbow all the way down are reporting two to four fish per trip.

Van Duzen
Flowing at 700 cfs as of Wednesday afternoon, the Van Duzen is in perfect shape and should fish through the weekend. Flows are predicted to drop to 400 cfs by Monday morning, but should remain fishable through the early part of next week.

Mad River
According to Justin Kelly of Eureka’s RMI Outdoors, the color is starting to look good on the Mad. “It was milky green on Wednesday, and the color should be about perfect for the weekend,” said Kelly. “It seems like there’s plenty of fish in the river, the guys flossing below the hatchery are hooking quite a few. I would expect the river to be crowded this weekend, and there will likely be quite a few boats too. Conditions should be good for bait and plugs.” Flows are predicted to get down to 1,000 cfs and 7.7 feet by Saturday morning.

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