[env-trinity] Good News- They're Hopping on the Klamath!

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Mon Sep 14 11:09:19 PDT 2009

They're Hopping on the Klamath 

Crescent City Triplicate-9/11/09

By Kurt Madar

The Klamath River is back, with fishermen from all over hoping to catch a big fall-run chinook. 

After a couple of years of lower-than-expected catches, the Klamath is once again full of salmon. 

The run is so strong that the Yurok tribe has already pulled its allocation of 30,900 fish. 

"Fishing on the river hasn't been this good in a long time," said Rick Nielsen, of Sacramento, who has been fishing the mouth of the Klamath for the last 30 years. 

Oh, and there are steelhead trout to be caught in the Klamath as well. 

"Today hasn't been as good as this weekend," Nielsen said. "I haven't seen anyone even get a bite." 

The fish were coming upriver in droves over the weekend, he said, with anglers hooking 150 fish Saturday and 125 Sunday. 

That number dropped to only seven fish Monday, according to officials. 

But Nielsen isn't worried because the salmon were expected to start running again within a day or two. 

According to California Department of Fish and Game fisheries biologist Sara Borok, 1,409 adult fall-run chinook salmon and 749 2-year-olds (jacks) had been harvested by sport fishermen as of Wednesday. 

"Jacks are not counted as part of the quota," Borok said. "We keep track because they predict next year's returning 3-year-olds." 

Last year the adult harvest for the same time period was much lower, with only 662 fall-run chinook caught as of Sep. 9.? 

The jack catch was 1,292 by the same point, a predictor of this year's higher catch of 3-year-olds. But Borok said that despite the jack total being down, it is "still a good number, very promising." 

Borok does not believe that the in-river sport fishing quota of 30,800 fish is going to be caught by the time the season is over Dec. 31. 

That is not because people aren't trying. 

The parking area that fishermen use to make the half-hour soft-sand trudge to the mouth of the Klamath was packed Tuesday with cars and trucks sporting license plates from all three West Coast states and beyond. 

The "bankies" (a nickname given by charter boat companies to shore-bound anglers) aren't the only fishermen vying for salmon. 

Numerous charter companies are also operating, and according to Fish and Game officials, catching 15-20 fish a day. 

"The reason that you are seeing people from all over is that the Klamath/Trinity drainage is it in California right now for salmon fishing,"?Borok said. 

The Smith River is also open for fall-run fishing, but until a good rainfall raises the flow rate, fish won't be starting upriver. 

Little Ray's Tackle Box owner Tommy Chew said that this is the best season he has seen since 2002. 

"It's going really well," Chew said from his Klamath Glen store. "This is sort of like my Christmas." 

Chew agrees with Borok that "there is no way the quota will be caught." 

"Not because it's a bad run, or that we don't have a lot of fishermen, 30,800 salmon is just a lot of fish," Chew said. "To be honest we have a lot more fishermen here than in years past." 

Aaron Funk, owner of the Kamp Klamath RV park near the mouth of the Klamath, has seen a "tremendous amount of fish coming through." 

Despite the fact that salmon fishing helps to extend the tourist season past Labor Day and even into October, Funk feels that the area isn't taking full advantage of having the only fishable salmon river in California. 

 "We need to get the word out that we are the only river in California where people can fish," Funk said. "We definitely get people from all over, I have one guest from Germany that is here specifically for the salmon, but we need to advertise that we are the only game in town."# 

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