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Commission closes recreational fishing for salmon on Klamath, Trinity rivers this fall
by Dan Bacher
Thursday Apr 13th, 2017 8:50 PM
The California Fish and Game Commission today unanimously voted to close sport fishing for Chinook salmon on the Klamath and Trinity rivers this fall and adopted the ocean fishing salmon fishing regulations for the California coast approved by the federal Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) on April 11.
Commission closes recreational fishing for salmon on Klamath, Trinity rivers this fall

by Dan Bacher

(Sacramento) The California Fish and Game Commission voted today to close recreational salmon fishing this fall on the Klamath River from below the Iron Gate Fish Hatchery to the mouth and the Trinity River from Lewiston Dam to the mouth, although steelhead fishing will remain open.

Stafford Lehr, the Deputy Director of the Wildlife and Fisheries Division of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), recommended that the Commission close the fall Chinook recreational fishery in the Klamath River from August 15 through December 31 and on the Trinity River from September 1 through December 31. He also recommended that neither Chinooks greater than 22 inches or less than 22 inches could be kept, since the smaller two-year-old “jacks’ and “jills” are sexually mature and will contribute to the stock.

Catch-and-release fishing of salmon will not be allowed either. Game wardens will determine whether somebody is targeting Chinook salmon or steelhead by the gear they are using.

“The salmon season this year on the Klamath River was a difficult question, not without a great amount of internal debate,” he noted. “The Klamath adult return is projected to be the lowest on record. It is almost certain that the Klamath will be classified as overfished, requiring a rebuilding plan. Allowing a recreational fishery is inconsistent with the action needed now.”

The entire spawning escapement on the Klamath is projected to be only around 11,000 fish, while the conservation goal is 40,700 spawners. If the take of salmon by recreational anglers had been allowed, only 129 fish would have been allocated. The total combined subsistence and ceremonial allotment for the Hoopa Valley and Yurok Tribes will be only a total of 814 fish this fall, according to Lehr.

Mike Coopman, representing North Coast fishing guides, said he supported the recommendation by the CDFW. “The fishery is in dire straits. We are on record supporting the closure,” he said.

Coopman also urged the CDFW and the Commission to help businesses that will be greatly impacted by the closure by pushing for emergency funding to get people on the North Coast through these hard times.

“It is not all gloom and doom,” Stafford added before the Commission voted to approve the regulations. “Inland, spring-run Chinook fishing will still be allowed through Aug. 14 on the Klamath River and through Aug. 31 on the Trinity River. After these dates, both fisheries will close for the remainder of the calendar year. However, the nearby Smith River will remain open for fall-run Chinook, and there are additional opportunities in southern Oregon rivers. During the salmon season closure, steelhead angling will still be allowed in both the Klamath and Trinity rivers."

“We need to be hyper cautious with this stock. To sum it up, every single fish matters to the continuation of the Klamath stock,” Lehr concluded.

The Commission also adopted the ocean salmon season recommendations for the California Coast made by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) at its meeting in Sacramento on April 11:

Due to low ocean abundance forecasts, the 200-mile-long Klamath Management Zone (KMZ) from Humbug Mountain, Oregon, to Horse Mountain, California, will be completely closed to the take of Chinook salmon this season.

Recreational salmon fishing further south below Horse Mountain opened on April 1. The fisheries south of Point Arena are also affected by the need to protect Sacramento River winter Chinook, a listed species under the federal and state Endangered Species that has been hammered by decades of water diversions throughout the river system and in particular by massive water exports out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

In the Fort Bragg area from Horse Mountain to Point Arena, the season will close during June, July, and half of August, then reopen through November 12.

In the San Francisco area from Point Arena to Pigeon Point, the season will close during the first half of May and reopen through October 31.

Salmon fishing will remain open through July 15 in the Monterey Bay area and through May 31 for areas south of Monterey Bay.

The Fish and Game Commission delayed its final approval of the Central Valley river inland salmon regulations until the Commission's April 26-27 meeting in Van Nuys, CA.

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