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Good news for Klamath salmon

Fishing the North Coast by Kenny Priest,

lamath River salmon scored a major victory over Central Valley irrigators as Judge Lawrence O’Neill of the United States District Court in Fresno rejected a bid on Wednesday by two of the biggest districts to stop emergency water releases intended to help Chinook salmon migrating up the Klamath and Trinity rivers.

O’Neill determined that any potential harm to the irrigators from an uncertain loss of added water supply was outweighed by the potentially catastrophic damage to salmon in the absence of supplemental water. He made a similar ruling last year when the bureau released water for Klamath salmon. Intense political and legal battles have gone on over dividing water between fish and farms in the Klamath River Watershed for decades.

The Bureau of Reclamation ordered the emergency flows last Friday from Lewiston Reservoir due to low flows and high water temperatures, fearing another outbreak of the parasite that killed between 33,000 and 78,000 salmon in 2002. The releases are scheduled to continue through September 20 and are expected to total about 25,000 to 30,000 acre-feet.

Phil Pritting of McKinleyville landed this nice Klamath River Chinook on Tuesday while fishing with guide Alan Borges. Photo courtesy of Alan's Guide Service

Phil Pritting of McKinleyville landed this nice Klamath River Chinook on Tuesday while fishing with guide Alan Borges. Klamath River salmon scored a major victory on Wednesday when a judge rejected the Central Valley irrigators bid to stop the surplus flows coming from the Trinity River. Photo courtesy of Alan's Guide Service

Klamath River update
According to Sara Borok, Environmental Scientist on the Klamath River Project, a total of 689 adult Chinook have been harvested as of Tuesday. This includes 371 adult salmon that have been harvested at the spit. The lower Klamath quota for 2015 is 7,067 adults and the spit fishery will close after 2,120 have been caught. For more information on the Klamath regulations, visit

Fall regs begin Sept. 1 on the Trinity
On September 1, the main stem of the Trinity downstream of the Lewiston Bridge to the confluence with Klamath River will open and run through December 31. The exception to this is the Burnt Ranch Gorge area, (downstream of the Highway 299 West bridge at Cedar Flat to the Denny Road Bridge at Hawkins Bar) which closes to all fishing on September 1. The quota on the Trinity is 4,663 adults and will be split evenly between the main stem downstream of the Old Lewiston Bridge to the Highway 299 West bridge at Cedar Flat and the main stem downstream of the Denny Road bridge at Hawkins Bar to the confluence with the Klamath.

The daily bag limit is 3 Chinook salmon, no more than 2 fish over 22 inches. The possession limit is 9 Chinook salmon, no more than 6 over 22 inches. If the quota adult fall Chinook is met, then the previous bag and possession limits apply to “jack” salmon less than 22 inches, i.e. 3 jacks per day and 9 jacks in possession. For more information on bag and possession limits, visit the DFG website at All anglers on the Trinity and Klamath rivers must have Salmon Harvest Cards in their possession when fishing for salmon.

Marine forecast
Ocean conditions should remain fishable through the weekend. As of Wednesday, the forecast for Friday is calling for SW winds to 10 knots and waves NW 4 feet at 14 seconds. South winds 5 to 10 knots are on tap for Saturday, along with SW waves 5 feet at 7 seconds and W 4 feet at 18 seconds. Sunday is looking a little rougher, with S winds to 10 knots and W waves 5 feet at 8 seconds and W 7 feet at 16 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For up-to-date weather forecast, visit You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Health warning for recreational clams and mussels
On Wednesday the California Department of Public Health advised consumers not to eat recreationally mussels or clams from Humboldt or Del Norte counties. According to the press release, dangerous levels of domoic acid have been detected in mussel and razor clam samples and may be present in the other species that have not yet been tested. This toxin, also known as Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP), can cause illness or death in humans. No cases of human poisoning from domoic acid are known to have occurred in California. The warnings do not apply to commercially sold clams, mussels, scallops or oysters from approved sources. For the more information, visit here.

The Oceans:

The Cape is still the salmon destination for all of the charter boats, and will likely remain that way until the fish have moved on. According to Tim Klassen on the Reel Steel Sport Fishing, the fishing is still really good, though the captains all have had their good and bad days. “I wouldn’t say it’s red hot, but it’s still good fishing. Most of the boats are getting limits, or real close to it daily. The water temps and clarity aren’t ideal, but the fish are staying put. Until something closer to home turns on consistently, we’ll be making the run south. The size of fish down here is all over the place, we’re catching some that are just legal to fish over 20 pounds.”

The salmon action picked up this week reports Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters. “The salmon bite definitely improved the last 4 to 5 days. There were a few sport boats that did really well before the rest of the fleet got dialed in. All of the action has been right on the beach from Patrick’s Point down to the Mad River. The mooch bite has been real good, and trolling has been effective too. You definitely need to move around, we’ve been following the birds and the bait balls and getting a couple fish then moving to the next. The fish haven’t been huge, ranging from barely keepers to 15 pounds with the occasional big one mixed in,” Wilson added.

Crescent City
The rockfish bite is still wide open reports Leonard Carter of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “The bite hasn’t really slowed down all year, and it’s still wide-open. The ling bite is also still going strong. Doesn’t seem to matter which direction you head, limits are coming easily. Not much is happening with salmon, a few are being caught and released while jigging for rockfish, but no one is trolling.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath

The past few days the fishing has ranged from decent to good according to Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. “I think the extra water has stabilized and the fish have settled, and in turn we’re seeing more and more adults enter the river daily. We’re also seeing a lot of jacks, which is typically the prelude to the bulk of the run. With cooler temps and possibly rain coming this weekend, fishing should only get better,” Coopman said.

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to

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