Search for salmon yields positive results in Monterey Bay
April 20, 2017
Monterey County Herald By Allen Bushnell
Monterey Bay anglers enjoyed another week of decent fishing. Besides a few rain showers, and a day or two of south winds, the weather was generally cooperative. Most important, there are fish in the bay and they are biting.
By no means is it “lights out” fishing. Salmon anglers who cover territory while trolling are rewarded if they are in the right place at the right time. Schools of salmon are still moving rapidly throughout the bay, popping up in such diverse areas as the Soldier’s Club near Monterey, the deeper flats near Moss Landing and the Soquel Hole, the Pajaro area, and up the coast near Natural Bridges and Three Trees.
On Sunday, Captain Jim Rubin from Go Fish Santa Cruz found his salmon past Moss Landing near Marina. “They had crew limits by 10 a.m.,” owner Beth Thompson reported. “The salmon varied in size weighing between 15-20 pounds. There was a pod of 20 whales adding to the entertainment.”
Tom Joseph took the Sara Bella into that general area on Sunday and returned with boat and crew limits of 12 to 17-pound salmon for his four clients. On Wednesday, Joseph netted eight fish, though his clients hooked 14. “The fish are out there, but they’re moving. You gotta spend some time to find them before you start fishing,” Joseph advises.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has released final details on ocean salmon seasons for the state. The Klamath River area will remain closed this year due to low return numbers. Our area, from Pigeon Point to Pt. Sur will remain open through July 15. Two fish per angler per day is the bag limit, and each fish must be at least 24 inches in length. Tackle regulations remain the same as last year. Barbless hooks only are allowed, and circle hooks must be used when fishing “not under power.” Before going out to target salmon, it would be wise to review all the current regulations. A mistake could prove to be very costly with DFW ticket fines costing upwards of $500.
Rockfishing has yet to take off on the Santa Cruz side of the bay. Chris Victorino from Stagnaro Sportfishing has been running half- and full-day trips. They are fishing reefs in the 120-foot range for a steady catch of brown, blue and red rockfish as well as lingcod. Monterey boats are enjoying a better bite right now, with Chris’ Fishing trips reporting limits of lingcod on every trip along with ½ limits of rockfish. The Kahuna, fishing out of Moss Landing, reported full limits of lingcod and “near limits” of rockfish on their Tuesday charter trip. The Moss Landing and Monterey boats are fishing near Point Pinos and down toward Carmel Bay.
Fishing the North Coast: Klamath and Trinity closed for fall-run kings in 2017
April 19, 2017
Eureka Times Standard By Kenny Priest For the Times-Standard
The fall-run Chinook fishery on both the Klamath and Trinity rivers will be closed in 2017.
On Thursday, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to close both rivers to the take of any size Chinook salmon after the fall seasons begin — Aug. 15 on the Klamath and Aug. 31 on the Trinity. Many factors led us to this point, but it’s hard to imagine that just five short years ago the number of fall kings returning to the Klamath basin was well over 300,000. This fall, roughly 12,000 spawners are predicted to come back, an all-time low. To help protect the stocks, ocean salmon fishing will also be closed in the California and Oregon KMZ zones, which run from Humbug Mountain south to Horse Mountain.
In the meantime, spring-run regulations are in effect on both rivers. Chinook fishing will be allowed through Aug. 14 on the Klamath downstream of the Highway 96 bridge. On the Trinity, fishing is open downstream of the Old Lewiston Bridge to the confluence of the South Fork Trinity River through August 31. The limit is two kings of any size on both rivers. After these dates, both fisheries will be closed for salmon for the remainder of the calendar year. Important Reminder: During the salmon season closure, steelhead angling will still be allowed in both the Klamath and Trinity rivers.
Weekend marine forecast
The weekend forecast for Shelter Cove doesn’t look to enticing as of Wednesday. On Saturday, winds will be out of the west at 10 to 15 knots with westerly waves of 10 feet at 14 seconds. Winds will pick up on Sunday, coming from the northwest at 10 to 20 knots. Waves will be from the northwest of seven feet at six seconds and from the west of nine feet at 13 seconds. Conditions can and will change.
Tough salmon bite continues at the Cove
Six boats and a handful of kayakers came up empty trying for salmon last weekend at Shelter Cove. It sounded like conditions were good, plenty of bait and birds, but no biters. “A friend of mine went out on Tuesday and got a nice 18 lb. salmon, and had a couple more good take downs,” said Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing.
Proposals on the table for Oregon’s ocean bubble fishery
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will adopt regulations for the ocean sport terminal areas at their April 21 meeting in Klamath Falls. Elk River Ocean Terminal Fishery: The 2017 forecasts for Elk and Sixes River Chinook are expected to be about the same as recent years. In 2016, the sport season was November 1-30 with bag limits of two Chinook per day, but no more than one wild Chinook per day and ten per season. The ODFW is recommending the Commission adopt the same sport season regulations for 2017. Chetco River Ocean Terminal Fishery: The 2017 forecasts for the Chetco and Winchuck River Chinook are reduced from recent years. As a result, ODFW is proposing continuation of a shortened season for the recreational fishery compared to prior years. Proposed seasons for 2017 are: Oct. 7-8 and 14-15, encompassing two weekends. One Chinook per day, minimum size 28 inches.
Increased Flows Coming Down the Trinity
The Trinity River flows will begin to increase on Saturday as releases from Lewiston Dam rise to hit a spring-high flow of 11,000 cfs after a determination that this is an “extremely wet” year for the basin. The flows will peak on Wednesday, April 26 at 11,000 cfs. Residents near or recreating on the river can expect levels to increase and should take appropriate safety precautions. Landowners are advised to clear personal items from the floodplain prior to the releases.
Ruth Lake Bass tourney coming in May
The Southern Trinity Volunteer Fire Department is hosting its 11th annual Ruth Lake Bass Tournament on Saturday, May 6. Blast off begins at 6 a.m. Entry fees are due May 1. Entries are $150 per team (includes Big Fish). First Place is $1,500 and second place is $1,000. Big Fish will win $100. One in five payback based on full slate of 40 boats. This is a catch and release tournament, live wells and life jackets are required. Check in is Friday at Journey’s End at 4:15-5:30 p.m. or Saturday 4:45 a.m. at the Marina parking lot. For more info call Todd Perras at 707-273-9621.
Main Stem Eel >> The main stem Eel remains big and off-color, and it may be that way for some time. Wednesday’s rainfall is expected to push flows back up to nearly 25,000 cfs on the Scotia gauge by Thursday evening. It will take a solid 10 days for it to clear; it’s starting to look like that won’t happen this season.
Smith River >> “I haven’t been on the water in a while, but I’m hearing a few fish are being caught,” guide Mike Coopman said. “The fishing pressure is light, which is typical for this time of the year. But there’s still fish around and the few who are out there are catching a few downrunners each day.”
Low Salmon Projections Lead to Fisheries Restrictions, Some Closures in 2017
April 14, 2017
Califiornia Department Fish Wildlife News
Historically low numbers of fall-run and winter-run Chinook salmon have prompted the California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) to drastically limit the state’s salmon fishery for the remainder of 2017.
In the Klamath Management Zone, which is the area between the Oregon/California border and Horse Mountain (40° 05’ 00” N. latitude), the entire ocean salmon fishery will be closed, as will the fall-run Chinook fishery on both the Klamath and Trinity rivers.
Returning stock projections for fall-run Chinook in the Klamath River Basin are the lowest on record. By limiting, and in some cases closing, the fisheries for the remainder of 2017, the FGC hopes to maximize fall- and winter-run Chinook survival and reproduction and support efforts to rebuild the fisheries.
“Closing an entire fishing season is not something that I take lightly, but the survival of the fall-run Chinook in the Klamath and Trinity rivers is at stake,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham. “CDFW and other fisheries management partners agree that these restrictions are necessary to help recover this vital species.”
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.
The ocean salmon season north of Horse Mountain will be completely closed in 2017. All areas south of Horse Mountain opened on April 1 and will remain open, with some restrictions, as follows.
•In the Fort Bragg area, which extends from Horse Mountain to Point Arena (38° 57’ 30” N. latitude), the season will continue through May 31, reopening Aug. 15 and extending through Nov. 12 with a 20-inch minimum size limit for the season. The summer closure in this area is also related to the limited numbers of Klamath River fall-run Chinook.
•In the San Francisco area, which extends from Point Arena to Pigeon Point (37° 11’ 00” N. latitude), the season will close on April 30 under a 24-inch minimum size limit, and reopen on May 15 through Oct. 31 with a 20-inch minimum size limit.
•In the Monterey area between Pigeon Point and Point Sur (36° 18’ 00” N. latitude), the season will continue through July 15, while areas south of Point Sur will continue through May 31. The minimum size limit south of Pigeon Point will remain 24-inches total length.
Other restrictions for these areas are as follows:
•The daily bag limit is two salmon per day of any species except coho salmon and no more than two daily bag limits may be possessed when on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit. CDFW reminds anglers that retention of coho (also known as silver salmon) is prohibited in all ocean fisheries.
•For anglers fishing north of Point Conception (34° 27’ 00” N. latitude), no more than two single-point, single-shank barbless hooks shall be used, and no more than one rod may be used per angler when fishing for salmon or fishing from a boat with salmon on board. In addition, barbless circle hooks are required when fishing with bait by any means other than trolling between Horse Mountain and Point Conception.
Shortened ocean salmon seasons in northern California were necessary partly because data show that Klamath River fall-run Chinook are most likely to be caught in ocean areas near the Klamath River mouth, with impacts on this stock decreasing the further south fishing opportunity occurs.
Concerns are also high for endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinook, contributing to the decision to shorten ocean fishing seasons in areas south of Pigeon Point. Three consecutive years of low juvenile numbers, coupled with unusually warm and unproductive ocean conditions, led fishery managers and industry representatives to implement protections beyond those required by the Endangered Species Act biological opinion and the federal salmon Fishery Management Plan’s harvest control rule. Fishery data suggest that winter-run Chinook are concentrated south of Pigeon Point, especially south of Point Sur, during the summer and early fall. Ocean fishery closures and size limit restrictions implemented in the Monterey management areas are intended to minimize contact with winter-run Chinook.
Klamath fall-run Chinook are currently classified under the federal plan as “approaching an overfished condition.” Given the poor return of adults to the river the past two years, coupled with returns this fall that are expected to be just as poor or even worse, the stock is expected to be classified as “overfished” in 2018. As a result, CDFW will be working with federal and tribal partners to develop a Rebuilding Plan for Klamath River fall-run Chinook next year.
CDFW and the FGC are tasked with managing the state’s fishery resources to ensure sustainability. Given the stock status, extra precaution is warranted. Every fish counts this year – especially every fish returning to the river to spawn.
Proposed vineyard runoff controls worry Napa vintners
April 11, 2017
Napa Valley by Barry Eberling
Controversial, proposed state regulations that would give local grape growers a new, required role in helping Napa River steelhead trout and Chinook salmon thrive will get another airing this week.
The state’s San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board will hold a workshop on possible vineyard waste discharge requirements for the Napa River and Sonoma Creek watersheds. It meets at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Elihu M. Harris Building, 1515 Clay St. in Oakland.
Local groups are raising various issues. Some say that controls that are too tight might deal at least a glancing blow to Napa County’s agricultural economic engine, especially to small farmers. The city of Napa wants to make certain its reservoirs are protected from pollutants.
“We’re hoping to work with the Regional Board to address their (goals) in a way that is feasible for our small winery owners and growers here in the valley,” Michelle Novi of Napa Valley Vintners said on Monday.
At issue is how much local grape growers might have to do to keep sediment out of creeks running to the Napa River. Sediment threatens spawning and rearing habitat for endangered steelhead trout, locally rare Chinook salmon and other aquatic life, a state report said.
The Water Board wants to reduce human-caused sediment washing from local farms and dirt roads by 50 percent. It wants owners of vineyards five acres or larger to have certified farm plans that help achieve this goal.
The city of Napa operates Lake Hennessey and Milliken reservoirs in the local hills to provide water for its residents. It recommended that the Water Board require vineyards to monitor pesticide and nutrient discharges that could end up in city water.
“Reservoir water quality is affected by pesticides, herbicides and other natural and man-made constituents, including phosphates, nitrates, sulfates and other nutrients that degrade drinking water quality,” city Water General Manger Joy Eldredge wrote to the state.
Among other things, Eldredge wrote that Lake Hennessey has seen a trend toward degraded water quality and increased algae growth. This has happened even with the county requiring erosion control plans for vineyards being developed in the watershed.
But a Water Board report said Lake Hennessey in 1993 had 5.3 percent of its watershed planted in vineyards and 7.4 percent today, which it called a modest amount. Algae blooms in recent years could be caused by drought, which could result in lower reservoir inflow, fewer reservoir spills, warmer temperatures and greater light penetration, it said.
Water Board staff decided against strengthening the pesticides and nutrient controls already in its proposals. Within five years, the agency plans to do a pilot monitoring effort and may change the farm plan program based on the results.
Agricultural groups and grape growers say the proposed farm plan program could prove to be an economic hardship for some growers, particularly small family farms.
The Water Board responded that the one-time cost to develop a plan would be about $5,000. The cost to implement a plan could range from $20 to $315 per acre per year, depending on vineyard size and terrain, which is a 1-percent to 8-percent increase in operating costs for typical vineyards.
After implementing a farm plan over a decade or so, compliance costs would fall to less than 2 percent of operating expenses, it said.
“I still think that’s a pretty substantial cost,” Novi said. “One to eight percent of operating costs is still pretty substantial.”
The Water Board says that grants may help, but that these grants might not materialize, Novi said.
Local grape growers won one victory. The original proposal affected not only parcels entirely or partially planted in vineyards, but also any contiguous non-vineyard parcels with the same owner. The new proposal affects only parcels planted in grapes.
“That was a positive change,” Novi said.
Novi expressed pride that about 70,000 acres are enrolled or certified through the Napa Green land program, which includes Fish Friendly Farming and LandSmart. This represents grape growers taking voluntary steps to help creeks and the Napa River.
But a Water Board report used such efforts to try to show that its regulation proposals are on the right track. Mike Napolitano of the Board wrote that growers enrolled in such programs already have farm plans that would meet the proposed, new law, perhaps with minor changes.
“These efforts demonstrate that the general permit’s requirements are achievable,” he wrote.
The Water Board could vote on a vineyard waste discharge requirements for the Napa River and Sonoma Creek watersheds this summer.
Fishery Managers Close 200 Miles Of West Coast To Salmon Fishing
April 11, 2017
OPB/EarthFix by Cassandra Profita
About 200 miles of the West Coast will be closed to ocean salmon fishing this year to protect a record-low run of Klamath River chinook.
Fishery managers with the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted Tuesday for a total closure of ocean salmon seasons from southern Oregon to northern California.
Commercial troll fishing seasons will be closed from Florence, Oregon, to Horse Mountain, which is south of Eureka, California. Sport fishing seasons will be closed from Humbug Mountain south of Port Orford, Oregon, to Horse Mountain in northern California. The rest of the coast will have limited fishing seasons.
West Coast salmon runs have been hit hard in recent years by drought conditions in their native rivers and El Niño conditions in the Pacific Ocean that reduce their food sources.
While fishermen up and down the coast are in for a tough year, those who depend on Klamath River salmon are already calling for help. Fishing groups and Native American tribes plan to ask California Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a fishing disaster so they can receive federal assistance.
The salmon returns for other Oregon streams and the Columbia River look healthier than the Klamath, according to state reports. And Washington is expecting average to good chinook returns for Puget Sound salmon and other coastal rivers. However, some Washington coho salmon stocks are expected to have low returns, and that triggers restrictions on other salmon fisheries.
The north coast of Oregon and Washington will have minimal seasons that are a little better than last year, according to Butch Smith, who chairs an advisory panel that helps the council set salmon seasons.
Smith said the fishing seasons from Florence, Oregon, to San Francisco are so grim they will likely qualify for fishing disaster assistance. Managers were only able to allow fisheries in that whole region to catch about 800 Klamath River fish to protect what is projected to be smallest run ever of Klamath River fall chinook.
“All those coastal communities can only impact 800 fish. That is a pretty devastating thing,” Smith said. “They could be right back there again next year, too.”
Managers are expecting to see less than 12,000 Chinook salmon returning to the Klamath River this year, which means tribes that fish on the river will also be severely limited in how many fish they can catch.
Thomas Wilson of the 6,100-member Yurok Tribe said the allocation for his tribe of 650 fish is by far the lowest they’ve ever received. That will force the tribe to cancel its commercial fishing season for the second year in a row.
“This is about one fish for every 10 Yurok people,” Wilson told members of the Pacific Fishery Management Council. “That’s not enough for us to live. The Yurok people people are fishing people. It’s our identity. Without fish we are nothing. We cease to exist.”
He called on fishery managers to work together to heal the Klamath River.
Fish advocates blame a lack of water releases from dams for the low returns of Klamath River salmon. Earlier this year, a judge ordered the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to increase water flows in the hopes of flushing out a salmon-killing parasite that infected 90 percent of juvenile salmon in the river in 2015.
“When you lose 90 percent of your fish population through juvenile disease, we’re seeing the effects of that now,” said Karuk Tribal Councilman Joshua Saxon.
Saxon says the Klamath salmon returns are so low, the Karuk tribe is restricting its ceremonial and subsistence fishing for the first time ever. The 3,600-member tribe will only catch 200 fish this year.
“Two hundred fish is really not even enough for ceremonial purposes, so this is really beyond a minimal number of fish,” Saxon said. “This is not an amount that is going to feed hardly anyone.”
Saxon said the unprecedented restrictions will have social and economic consequences for the tribe, which has been fishing in the same Klamath River pools for thousands of years.
“It’s affected us to the core,” he said. “We have a relationship with our river that’s stronger than anything else that we have.”
While dams, low water flows and disease have gravely harmed the fish, Saxon said, he still has hope that the plans to remove dams on the river will go forward and improve conditions for salmon.
PacifiCorp is awaiting approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on a plan to remove its four Klamath River dams by 2020.
“We can’t give up,” Saxon said. “This river needs to be managed for fish. Taking care of the fish disease problem upriver close to the dams is our number one priority.”