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Decent Season Ahead for Ocean Sport Salmon Anglers 

click to enlarge If the Pacific Fishery Management Council is right, we should see more salmon like the one pictured here with Terry Johnson, from Sacramento, this fall. The recreational ocean salmon season is tentatively scheduled to open either May 1 or July 1. The final decision will come from the PFMC meetings in April.

Photo courtesy of Tim Klassen/Reel Steel Sport Fishing

If the Pacific Fishery Management Council is right, we should see more salmon like the one pictured here with Terry Johnson, from Sacramento, this fall. The recreational ocean salmon season is tentatively scheduled to open either May 1 or July 1. The final decision will come from the PFMC meetings in April.

Even though ocean abundance forecasts have increased over the prior year for both the Sacramento River and Klamath River Fall Chinook, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) is taking a precautionary approach to the 2022 ocean salmon seasons.

When the PFMC released its ocean sport salmon season options March 14, there was a mix of good and not so good news. If you fish in the Bay Area and Monterey regions, the news was good. Those zones will open up to fishing April 2 and will provide ample opportunity. The news for anglers to the north, especially off our coast within the CA Klamath Management Zone (KMZ), wasn't quite as good due to the low abundance of Klamath River Fall Chinook. But we'll get some decent time on the water, it's just not during the peak month of June when the harvest rates of 4-year-old Klamath Chinook are historically the highest.

For the California KMZ, which runs from the Oregon-California border to latitude 40°10' N and includes Humboldt County, the three alternatives currently on the table are:

Alternative 1: May 1-31; Aug. 1-Sept. 5

Alternative 2: May 1-31; July 1-4; Aug. 1–31

Alternative 3: July 1–24.

Open seven days per week. All salmon except coho, two salmon per day. Chinook minimum size limit of 20 inches total length. Size limit of 24 inches in alternative 3.

From latitude 40°10' N to Point Arena, which includes Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg, the three alternatives are:

Alternative 1: May 1-31; July 1-Nov. 13

Alternative 2: May 1-July 4; July 22-Oct. 31

Alternative 3: May 1-Sept. 30

Open seven days per week. All salmon except coho, two salmon per day. Chinook minimum size limit of 20 inches total length. Size limit of 24 inches in alternative 3.

To view all of the salmon management alternatives, visit www.pcouncil.org/annual-salmon-management-process/#2022-2023.

A public hearing is scheduled for March 22, where the public is invited to comment on the PFMC's proposals. Final season dates will be decided at the April 6-13 meeting in Seattle, Washington. Details on how to attend the public hearing and PFMC meeting, as well as instructions to provide public comment, can be found at www.pcouncil.org

Klamath/Trinity fall salmon allocations

With ocean abundance on the rise, river anglers will have a few more Klamath/Trinity River fall Chinook to harvest this year. The recreational allocations, or quotas, as proposed by the PFMC will range from 2,125 to 2,546 adult fall Chinook in 2022 across the three alternatives. Last year's basin-wide quota was 1,221 adults. If, for example, Alternative One was chosen, the quota for the Klamath and Trinity basins would be 2,152 adults. Of those, 1,076 would be allowed for sport harvest from State Route 96 bridge to the mouth of the Klamath. From the 96 bridge to Iron Gate, 366 could be harvested. The Trinity would receive 710 adults for harvest. The Spit Area (within 100 yards of the channel through the sand spit formed at the Klamath River mouth) would close when 323 adult kings were taken downstream of the U.S. Highway 101 bridge. The three quota alternatives are not final, but will be decided during the April 6-13 PFMC meetings. Once the quota is agreed upon, 50 percent will go to the lower Klamath basin, 17 percent to the upper basin, and 33 percent will be allocated for the Trinity River. When adopted, these quotas will go into effect Aug. 15, 2022.

The weather ahead

Following Tuesday's rain, we can expect mostly dry weather on Wednesday and Thursday. The next chance of substantial rainfall is Friday evening through Sunday. Coastwide, we can expect between 1 to 1.5 inches. The first part of next week is looking like a return to dry weather.

River Closures

As of Tuesday, the South Fork Eel, Middle Fork Eel, Mattole, Redwood Creek and Van Duzen are currently closed to fishing due to low flows.

The Rivers:

Mad River

The Mad opened back up to fishing Tuesday morning and was on the rise through most of the day. It's forecast to rise again on Saturday afternoon, reaching 1,580 cubic feet per second. The color was good as of Wednesday and there should be fish on the move.

Eel River (main stem)

As of Wednesday, flows were 1,300 cfs at Scotia and rising slightly. It's predicted to reach 1,900 cfs by Thursday morning. Not much of a rise, but probably enough to get some fish moving both directions.

Smith River

The Smith basin received well over an inch of rain Monday putting the river on a steep rise. As of Wednesday, flows were down to 4,000 cfs and dropping. Dry conditions for the next couple days will bring the levels down quickly. Another smaller rise is forecast for Saturday. There should be some fresh fish making their way in and plenty of spawners headed down.

Southern Oregon rivers

"The Chetco fished surprisingly well last week and over the weekend, with a mix of fresh steelhead and downrunners," said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. "Some guides are getting double-digit hookups. The rain this week should bring in a few more steelhead, while leaving plenty of flows for the remainder of the season, which ends March 31. Steelhead are spread throughout the river. The Elk and Sixes will be back in play with this week's rain. Both rivers fished well early last week. There is a mix of fresh and spent steelhead in both rivers. The Rogue has been slow for steelhead, but should see the first schools of spring king salmon with this week's rains."

Brookings ocean report

Lingcod and rockfish action was good out of Brookings before the weekend storms, according to Martin. "Limits of lingcod are being caught close to the harbor. Rockfish are thick on all of the inshore reefs. Sport crabbing is slow. Wednesday and Thursday look fishable before south wind returns Friday."

Kenny Priest (he/him) operates Fishing the North Coast, a fishing guide service out of Humboldt specializing in salmon and steelhead. Find it on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and www.fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

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