It has been a slow week for fishing on the Wild Rivers Coast, with the steelhead bite starting to slow as the season winds down and rough weather keeping ocean anglers at bay.
The biggest news of the week came from the Pacific Fisheries Management Council’s, which released its initial draft for salmon management measures at its meeting on Wednesday.
Although each of the alternatives is still subject to change prior to the final alternatives being adopted, the initial draft was more optimistic than many anglers feared, especially after a full closure, both on the ocean and the Klamath River, last year.
On the ocean
There are still lots of bottom fish available for Oregon sportfishermen, though rough weather has kept anglers on shore after a couple days of decent fishing over the weekend.
Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing said the weather is looking pretty good for anglers to get back out in search of bottom fish today.
It has been a slow week for anglers on both the Smith and Chetco rivers this week.
Both rivers are running a little on the high side, but a few anglers on the Smith River have been able to catch some steelhead while plunking from shore. It has been a tough week for drift boats though.
Mike Coopman, of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service said the rivers didn’t rise as much as the amount of rain that fell this week might suggest, however, with inland precipitation falling in the form of snow at lower-than-normal elevations. That means the rivers could rise in the coming week or two with just some warmer weather and no rain.
When the rivers round back into good shape, anglers are waiting to see if any fresh fish are still entering the system. Coopman estimated roughly 60 to 70 percent of the steelhead being caught have been down runners recently, and that number will likely rise throughout the rest of the season.
“There could still be a few fresh ones coming, but it is that time of year though, where we are going to see the switch around to mostly down runners.”
Look ahead at salmon
The PFMC released its initial draft for its salmon management measures this season. Although the alternatives are still subject to change until the council adopts its final alternatives, it looks like anglers can expect at least some opportunities to target salmon after a full closure in both the ocean, and on the Klamath River last year.
In Oregon, south of Humbug Mountain, the proposed salmon seasons would run from May 19 through Aug. 26; June 1-17, July 1-15, and August 4-12; or May 19 through July 4. The minimum size limit for the Chinook salmon will be 24 inches.
From the California-Oregon border south to Horse Mountain the alternatives are a little bit more restrictive due to officials attempting to protect salmon destined for the Sacramento River, though all three alternatives would allow at least some ocean salmon fishing.
The first alternative would open fishing June 20 to July 31 and again from Aug. 20 to Sept. 3. The other options would be an opening from July 1 through Sept. 3, or June 15 through Sept. 3. The minimum size Chinook will be 20 inches.
In its supplemental management information, the PFMC also indicated salmon fishing will be allowed on the Klamath River this season as well. Like the ocean seasons, each of the alternatives are still subject to change. The quota for non-tribal sportfishermen is expected to be between 5,762 and 1,785, while the Klamath tribal allocation is expected to be either 17,568 or 12,083.
No matter what the final number of available adult salmon on the Klamath River ends up being, the fact that salmon fishing will be open will also allow anglers to target and retain some jacks this year.
Coopman said officials are expecting a lot of two-year old salmon, commonly referred to as jacks, to return to the Klamath River this year, which is a good sign for the health of the run.
“We will be able to catch (jacks) throughout the whole season, whereas last year was a complete shutdown,” Coopman said. “We are going to get to go fishing. In comparison to what we had last year it is a 100 percent swing. I am are pretty excited about it.”
For the full report on the PFMC’s salmon management, visit www.pcouncil.org. Fishing contacts: Mike Coopman’s Guide Service at 707-218-4501; Jim Mitchell of Gotcha Hooked Fish Trips at 464-8482; Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 206-388-8988; Chetco Outdoor Store at 541-469-9151; Englund Marine Supply Com pany at 464-32306.
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .