News & Stories

  • Fishing the North Coast: Fall Klamath king returns were up in 2018

    February 20, 2019

    Eureka Times Standard By Kenny Priest

    Last fall produced some of the best king salmon fishing on both the Klamath and Trinity Rivers in recent memory, and the preliminary number of returning kings seem to reflect just that. While we’re still not back up to average runs sizes, we’re headed in the right direction. The CDFW predicted a river run size of 91,873 in 2018, and they were nearly spot on. According to the “Review of 2018 Ocean Salmon Fisheries” document, recently released by the PFMC, preliminary postseason river returns showed 92,293 adults returned.

    Considering where we were in 2016 when just 27,353 adults returned, prompting a full fall-run closure in 2017, I’d say the numbers are going the right way. On an average year, we’ll see right around 122,000 adult kings return to the basin. So, we’ve got a little ways to go before the stocks are rebuilt completely.

    “The 2018 Klamath fall chinook returns were slightly below average and the number of jacks returning also fell below long-term average,” said Wade Sinnen, Senior Environmental Scientist on the Klamath/Trinity Rivers. In 2018, only 11,114 jacks, or two-year-old salmon, returned.

    During the previous ten years, the average number of returning jacks was roughly 22,600. The real bright spot according to Sinnen was the number of returning three-year-old fish. “These fish are part of the 2015 brood year, which made a good showing last year as two-year-old. This brood will translate to a decent preseason abundance forecast of age four fish this year.”

    The bottom line of low jack counts is next year’s adult return may not be as robust, and therefore a smaller recreational quota for the whole basin. “In terms of fishing opportunity this coming year, it’s too early to say for sure,” said Sinnen. “We will know more after the Ocean Salmon Information meeting in Santa Rosa. However, I do not expect a large in-river quota based on past runs of the magnitude we experienced this past year.”

    While the jack count was low, most of the information coming out of the report was positive for the basin. The number of natural area spawners was 53,624 adults, which exceeded the preseason expectation of 40,700. However, the stock is still in “overfished” status as escapement was not met the previous three seasons. The estimated hatchery return was 18,564 adults for the basin.

    Spawning escapement to the upper Klamath River tributaries (Salmon, Scott, and Shasta Rivers), where spawning was only minimally affected by hatchery strays, totaled 21,109 adults. The Shasta River has historically been the most important Chinook salmon spawning stream in the upper Klamath River, supporting a spawning escapement of 27,600 adults as recently as 2012 and 63,700 in 1935. The escapement in 2018 to the Shasta River was 18,673 adults. Escapement to the Salmon and Scott Rivers was 1,228 and 1,208 adults, respectively.

    According to the report, the Yurok and Hoopa Valley tribes shared a federally-reserved right of 50 percent (18,122) of the available harvest surplus of adult Klamath fall Chinook. Tribal adult harvest was 14,769 (Yurok: 12,444 adults; Hoopa Valley: 2,325 adults), which was 81 percent of the tribal allocation.

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  • Coho comeback in West Marin is a welcome sight

    February 17, 2019

    Marin Independent Journal by Marin IJ Editorial Board

    Marin’s struggling population of coho salmon is staging an impressive comeback.

    Fish counters are reporting that the number of the salmon seen making their way back up the Lagunitas Creek watershed to spawn hit a 12-year high.

    The creek has been the host of about 20 percent of the wild coho runs between Monterey Bay and Fort Bragg.

    There are many factors responsible for the comeback, but the return of rainy weather has been one of them, providing the fish with enough water to return to their natal streams to spawn.

    Other factors include improved ocean fisheries that have limited commercial fishing, many years of work to restore West Marin creek habitat and a greater public awareness of the need to protect the environment. That includes not only protecting the redds — or nests of salmon eggs — so that young salmon have a chance to survive and grow, but also to make it easier for them to make their remarkable trip to the ocean and return.

    From counts taken over the past several years, those initiatives are paying off.

    West Marin’s creeks have been identified as historic breeding grounds for the West Coast’s salmon population. And in recent years, a lot of effort — and public dollars — have gone into restoring habitat and removing man-made impediments.

    Also, there is a growing awareness of the need to protect the environment from pollution, including the dumping of debris along the creek.

    The county has also instituted stronger building restrictions aimed at protecting the creek; however, the extent of those protections — particularly in San Geronimo Valley — are still the source of local debate and a legal battle.

    It is unlikely that the area will ever return to the number of salmon found in the creeks before the construction of Alpine Dam in 1918 and Peters Dam in 1953. Today’s numbers are likely a fraction of those, but the number of coho that are being counted today represents a rebound from recent years.

    A UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences and California Trout study in 2017 listed Lagunitas coho as being at a high risk of extinction.

    Scientific alarm was so strong that some coho redds were recovered, hatched in a hatchery and re-planted to help save the local population. Conducted by the National Park Service, scientists say that so far, their efforts have proven successful.

    One of the problems with local counts is they were interrupted by the monthlong federal shutdown.

    That’s going to leave an unfortunate gap in the counts, but still the numbers look a lot better than they did just a decade ago, for instance, when only 52 adult coho and 26 redds were counted in the Lagunitas Creek watershed.

    Efforts to bring back the local coho population are far from over, but the numbers are headed in the right direction and that’s encouraging for support for future initiatives.

    Read the article at the source »

  • CDFW to host public meeting on ocean salmon

    February 13, 2019

    Lake County News

    NORTH COAST, Calif. – The California Department of Fish and Wildlife invites the public to attend its upcoming annual Salmon Information Meeting.

    The meeting will feature the outlook for this year's sport and commercial ocean salmon fisheries, in addition to a review of last year's salmon fisheries and spawning escapement.

    The meeting will be held Wednesday, Feb. 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sonoma County Water Agency, 404 Aviation Blvd., Santa Rosa.

    Anglers are encouraged to provide input on potential fishing seasons to a panel of California salmon scientists, managers and representatives who will be directly involved in the upcoming Pacific Fishery Management Council, or PFMC, meetings in March and April.

    The 2019 Salmon Information Meeting marks the beginning of a two-month long public process used to develop annual sport and commercial ocean salmon fishing recommendations.

    The process involves collaborative negotiations with West Coast states, federal and tribal agencies, and stakeholders interested in salmon fishery management and conservation.

    Public input will help California representatives develop a range of recommended season alternatives during the March 5-12 PFMC meeting in Vancouver, Wash.

    The PFMC will finalize the recommended season dates at its April 9 to 16 meeting in Rohnert Park.

    A list of additional meetings and other opportunities for public comment is available on CDFW's ocean salmon Web page, www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon/preseason. 

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  • There is ONE steelhead left in Alameda Creek, California

    February 12, 2019

    Red Green and Blue By Dan Bacher

    Alameda Creek, the largest local watershed in Alameda County and the Bay Area, once hosted big runs of steelhead and Chinook steelhead. However, dams, other barriers and water diversions decimated these runs.

    Here is the latest press release on the great work by the Alameda Creek Alliance and Jeff Miller to restore these magnificent fish to the creek:

    Fremont, CA – Alameda Creek Alliance volunteers last week helped fish biologists from the East Bay Regional Park District capture and radio tag a single adult steelhead trout in lower Alameda Creek below the BART weir, an impassable concrete barrier that blocks fish spawning migration.

    On February 5, Park District biologists attached a radio transmitter to a 25” female steelhead and moved her upstream into lower Niles Canyon. This steelhead migrated into the Stonybrook Creek tributary, where she was observed last week spawning with native rainbow trout.

    The female steelhead has been nicknamed “Anna,” a reference to the anadromous, or migratory, life cycle of steelhead. “Anadromous” derives from Greek words meaning “up running.” Steelhead trout and rainbow trout are different forms of the same species. Steelhead have migrated from the fresh water streams of their birth to the ocean, whereas the smaller rainbow trout spend their entire life cycle in fresh water.

    Four adult steelhead were seen at the BART weir barrier on February 3 but only one steelhead was captured on February 5. A 29” chinook salmon was also captured, likely of hatchery origin.

    The Park District captures and radio tags steelhead to track their upstream migration. The Alameda County Water District and California Department of Fish and Wildlife helped coordinate the fish capture and tagging. Trout Unlimited, South Bay Clean Creeks Coalition and Diablo Valley Fly Fishers also provided volunteers.

    The Park District captures and radio tags steelhead to track their upstream migration. The Alameda County Water District and California Department of Fish and Wildlife helped coordinate the fish capture and tagging. Trout Unlimited, South Bay Clean Creeks Coalition and Diablo Valley Fly Fishers also provided volunteers.

    Local, state and federal agencies have been working on multiple projects to restore steelhead trout to Alameda Creek. The Alameda County Water District and Alameda County Flood Control District will begin construction this summer on a critical fish ladder that will allow steelhead to migrate past the BART weir barrier and an adjacent inflatable rubber dam used for water supply operations. It will take three years to complete construction for this complex fish passage facility. The ACWD recently completed construction of another fish ladder at a second inflatable rubber dam one mile upstream in the flood control channel.

    In 2018 the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission finished rebuilding the seismically-challenged Calaveras Dam in the upper Alameda Creek watershed. The new reservoir will be operated with cold water releases in the summer to help steelhead and trout rear downstream of the dam. The SFPUC also recently finished construction of a new fish ladder and fish screens at the associated Alameda Diversion Dam in upper Alameda Creek. This diversion dam will be operated to bypass much more of the winter and spring.

    “Anna, our anadromous trout, was in a hurry to spawn and she quickly found good habitat in a Niles Canyon tributary and a willing mate among the native rainbow trout population there,” said Jeff Miller, director of the Alameda Creek Alliance. “We’ve had a handful of adult steelhead attempt to migrate up lower Alameda Creek each of the last four winters, but only a few have gotten a helping hand to suitable spawning grounds.”

    “Construction begins this summer on a fish ladder at the BART weir, which within three years will allow salmon and steelhead to migrate upstream on their own to reach suitable spawning areas in the Alameda Creek watershed,” said Miller. “Half a century after they were eliminated, we’re on the brink of restoring a wild steelhead spawning population in the high flows in upper Alameda Creek. The enhanced stream flows will help migratory fish get further upstream to better habitat.

    Alameda Creek is becoming an urban stream success story after decades of restoration efforts. Since steelhead trout in the Bay Area were listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 1997, a consortium of organizations and agencies has cooperated on restoration projects to allow migratory fish to reach spawning habitat in upper Alameda Creek, including dam removals and construction of fish ladders and fish screens.

    Seventeen fish passage projects have been completed in the watershed since 2001. Water agencies are also working on projects to improve stream flows and restore stream and riparian habitat along Alameda Creek and its tributaries. These restoration projects will make up to 20 miles of Alameda Creek and its tributaries accessible to ocean-run fish for the first time in over half a century.

    Alameda Creek is considered an ‘anchor watershed’ for steelhead, since it has regional significance for restoration of the threatened trout to the entire Bay Area. The watershed drains an area of about 680 square miles and once supported populations of native steelhead trout and salmon. Steelhead, salmon and lamprey are anadromous fish, living out their adult lives in the ocean and migrating up fresh water streams and rivers to spawn and rear their young.

    Construction of dams, water diversions, modifications to the Alameda Creek streambed, and urbanization made it impossible for steelhead to migrate upstream, eliminated access to suitable spawning areas, and reduced suitable habitat for cold-water fish.

    The Alameda Creek Alliance is a 2,000-member strong community watershed group, dedicated to protecting and restoring the natural ecosystems of the Alameda Creek watershed. The Alameda Creek Alliance has been working to restore steelhead trout to the Alameda Creek watershed since 1997. 

    Read the article at the source »

  • Status of Chinook Salmon being reviewed, fishing closed on Klamath, Trinity rivers

    February 12, 2019

    Siskiyou Daily News

    The California Fish and Game Commission last week took action that could result in Upper Klamath-Trinity River Spring Chinook Salmon eventually being listed as endangered and approved fishing closures on parts of the Klamath and Trinity rivers to protect the salmon until a decision can be made on their status.

    The commission accepted a petition to list the salmon as endangered, setting into motion a status review to be completed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, according to a CDFW press release.

    The petitioners, the Karuk Tribe and Salmon River Restoration Council, submitted information suggesting declining population trends and a low abundance, making this stock of salmon vulnerable to extinction, the release states. The commission action results in Spring Chinook Salmon being designated as a Candidate Species under the California Endangered Species Act, which provides Candidate Species the same protections as species listed as endangered and threatened under CESA.

    CDFW also requested the commission adopt emergency fishing regulations necessary to reconcile them with the CESA protections. CDFW will also be in consultation with federal regulatory bodies concerning ocean fishing regulations.

    Acceptance of the petition triggers a one-year status review by CDFW to determine if a CESA listing by the commission may be warranted, according to the release.

    “CDFW, after review of the best scientific information available, will make a recommendation to the commission on whether to list Spring Chinook Salmon as either endangered or threatened, or that listing is not warranted at this time,” the release states.

    The following inland salmon fishing closures were approved by the commission through the emergency regulations:

    Klamath River main stem from the mouth of the river to Iron Gate dam. Closed to salmon fishing from the anticipated effective date of Feb. 22 (subject to approval from the Office of Administrative Law) to Aug. 14.

    Trinity River main stem from its confluence to the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat. Closed to salmon fishing from the anticipated effective date of Feb. 22 to Aug. 31.

    Trinity River main stem from upstream of the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat to Old Lewiston Bridge. Closed to salmon fishing from the anticipated effective date of Feb. 22 to Oct. 15.

    Fishing for Upper Klamath-Trinity River Fall Chinook Salmon will be allowed in these areas after the closure dates listed above, the release states. Quotas and bag and possession limits for Fall Chinook Salmon will be adopted by the commission in May of this year.

    Steelhead fishing will be allowed year-round with normal bag and possession limits, according to the CDFW.

    Along with its adoption of the emergency regulations, the commission also directed CDFW to work with stakeholders, including affected counties, fishing organizations, tribes and conservation groups, to investigate options to allow some Spring Chinook Salmon fishing in 2019.

    Under Section of 2084 of Fish and Game Code, the commission can consider hook-and-line recreational fishing on a Candidate Species, according to the release.

    CDFW will present the results of that stakeholder collaboration and potential options using Section 2084 at the commission’s next public meeting, which will be held April 17 in Santa Monica.

    The public may keep track of the quota status of open and closed sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers by calling the information hotline at (800) 564-6479.

    Additional information can be found in the “2018-2019 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations” and the “2018-2019 California Supplement Sport Fishing Regulations.”

    The full commission agenda, supporting information and a schedule of upcoming meetings are available at www.fgc.ca.gov. An archived video will also be available in coming days.
     

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