Salmon stymied by shifting Klamath River mouth

Excerpt taken from this week’s newspaper column in the Times-Standard:

According to Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service, with the mouth opening and closing since the weekend, very few fish are coming in. The big swells aren’t helping much either,” Coopman said.

20130926_102616_FNC 9_26 photo_500

Fishing the North Coast
Kenny Priest/For the Times-Standard

Along the lines of the 80s TV commercial for Wendy’s where the old lady shouts, “Where’s the beef?” Klamath salmon anglers have been wondering, “Where’s the salmon?” In truth, no one really knows. What we do know is 11,538 have been harvested below the 101 bridge and another 1,009 have been caught by sport anglers above the bridge. Throw in approximately 54,000 fish that have been harvested by the Yurok tribe and what you’re left with is a lot of missing fish. Sure, there’s a few fish that have squirted through and are now entering tributaries like the Trinity, Shasta, and Scott rivers, but with an in-river return at well over 250,000 predicted, the numbers aren’t adding up. A big part of the problem has been the mouth of the river. Flowing to the south and running narrow and shallow, conditions have been less than ideal for huge pushes of fish to enter the river. And with last week’s storms and big tide swings, it went from bad to worse. Since the weekend, it’s been opening and closing and has created a lake that can be felt all the way to Blakes’ riffle. At the moment, very few fish are entering the lower river and guides are lucky to catch a few a day.

According to Sara Borok, an Environmental Scientist on the Klamath River, we’ve been down this road before. “Back in 2001 we also had a south mouth that hampered the fish coming into the river. “It blew open on September 21 and we had a huge surge of fish pour in,” Borok said. “Although there’s no way to know for sure, my guess it there are still quite a few fish in the ocean waiting for the right conditions to enter.” With big swells again predicted for the weekend, there’s a chance the mouth can finally blow out enough to allow the remaining kings to enter the system and start their journey upriver. Let’s hope so.

Note:
• Low Flow closures on North Coast rivers start Tuesday.

Low Flow River Closures begin Oct. 1

North Coast rivers that are regulated by low flow closures, including the Eel River, Mad River, Mattole River, Redwood Creek, Smith River and Van Duzen River will begin angling restrictions on October 1st, except for the Mad River, which went into effect September 1st. The Department of Fish and Game will make the information available to the public by a telephone recorded message updated, as necessary, no later than 1 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as to whether any stream will be closed to fishing. The rivers can be opened up at anytime. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is (707) 822-3164. NOTE: The main stem Eel from the South Fork to Cape Horn Dam and the Mattole River will be closed until January 1, 2014

Areas subject to low flow closures:

Mad River: The main stem Mad River from the Hammond Trail Railroad Trestle to Cowan Creek. Minimum flow: 200 cfs at the gauging station at the Highway 299 bridge.

The main stem Eel River from the paved junction of Fulmor Road with the Eel River to the South Fork Eel River. Minimum flow: 350 cfs at the gauging station near Scotia.

The South Fork of the Eel River downstream from Rattlesnake Creek and the Middle Fork Eel River downstream from the Bar Creek. Minimum flow: 340 cfs at the gauging station at Miranda.

Van Duzen River: The main stem Van Duzen River from its junction with the Eel River to the end of Golden Gate Drive near Bridgeville (approximately 4,000 feet upstream of Little Golden Gate Bridge. Minimum flow: 150 cfs at the gauging station near Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park.

Mattole River: The main stem of the Mattole River from the mouth to Honeydew Creek.

Minimum flow: 320 cfs at the gauging station at Petrolia.

Redwood Creek: The main stem of Redwood Creek from the mouth to its confluence with Bond Creek. Minimum flow: 300 cfs at the gauging station near the Highway 101 bridge.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s