Lowest fall salmon returns on record

by E.B. Duggan

This is just a short report to let you know what is happening to the rivers, as I will be out of town for the weekend.

CDFW 2016 post season preliminary counts of Fall Chinook salmon returns to the Klamath River Basin for 2016 are the lowest returns of record since 1978. This could possibly be the record low for 2017 ocean abundance of Klamath Run Chinook salmon and a major reduction of 2017 fishing season quotas. I hope not, but the numbers are really below the 2016 salmon season quotas. The natural native spawning escapement for the basin was way below the 40,700 set goal. March 1 will be the next meeting for ocean salmon information to be held at 404 Aviation Blvd. Santa Rosa. At this meeting, CDFW and others will discuss what the possibilities could be for the fall Chinook salmon harvest. This information will then go to the Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC). Three possible options will be developed for review of Washington, Oregon and California Ocean and in-river sportsman fishing quotas for Fall Chinook salmon harvesting.

With more rain expected, fishing for the next week or so is going to be on the fritz. As you have already read, the rains in northern California have wrecked havoc with flooding, and the Oroville Dam, and now we are expecting more rain for the next week to ten days. The rivers are seeing plenty of steelhead, but the high waters are not allowing much fishing. For those lucky enough to hit the rivers in between storms, when the rivers are on the drop, you can hook fish.

Trinity River Hatchery Counts: TRH trapping summary for Jan. 29 - Feb.4; fall Chinook season totals, 1,512; spring Chinook season totals, 2,107, season totals 3,619; Coho season totals, 527; Steelhead, 144, season total 1,226.  

Fishing: This past week has been hard for the fishermen. If you are lucky enough to hit the rivers in between the storms, and catch the rivers dropping, you will be able to hook a few fish. Last week, my buddy Todd LeBoeuf of Tiger T Guide service, fished hard for two days in the very upper most Trinity and was able to hook some ½-pounders and one small adult steelhead. It is disparaging to hear that there were 17 guide boats trying to fish from Old Lewiston Bridge to Rush Creek on the same day. The river conditions were good for that day, but way too many boats on the same run. With the weather this is what to expect for the next few weeks for those who want to catch a winter run Iron head. You just might want to wait for better weather and hope you will have a better chance to hook into some good fishing. 

Mid-Klamath: Iron Gate Dam is releasing 4,290cfs at this time, so I would say fishing the Klamath is currently unfishable. With the flows down river in the thousands cfs., it will be a while before one will be able to wet a line. I just hope this will flush out the parasites that are causing the loss of our juvenile solenoids. Some sections of Hwy 96 are flooded!

Lake Conditions: Whiskeytown is 98% of capacity with inflows of 1,309cfs and releasing 1,385cfs into Clear Creek & Keswick. Shasta is 92% of capacity (a decrease of 4% & plus 8ft) inflows of 29,652cfs and releasing 65,203cfs, Keswick is 98% of capacity with inflows of 64,405cfs and releasing 65,398fs; Lake Oroville is 88% of capacity (a decrease of 13% &minus 21ft), inflow is 25,031cfs and releases are 59,472cfs; Lake Folsom is 57% of capacity (minus 21% & minus 20ft.) inflows are 18,210cfs and releases are 32,689cfs. 

Trinity Lake: The Lake is 47ft below the overflow (decrease of 3ft) and 72% of capacity (2% increase) Inflow to Trinity Lake is 4,800cfs and Trinity Dam is releasing 232cfs to Lewiston Lake with 4,568cfs going to Whiskeytown Lake and on to the Keswick Power Plant with 65,398cfs being released to the Sacramento River. 

Trinity River Flows and Conditions: Lewiston Dam releases are 344cfs, water temps of 46.8 and air is 55 degrees at 2:00pm. today. Limekiln Gulch is 5.5ft at 902cfs, water temps are 46.9 degrees and air is 67.  Douglas City is 8ft at 1,860cfs, water temps of 46.8 and air is 57.

Junction City is 5.2ft at 3,100cfs.  Helena is 14.4ft at 4,090cfs with water temps of 47.2. Cedar Flat is 10.7ft at 8,670cfs. Willow Creek is estimated at 21.7Kcfs air is 58and water at 48. Hoopa is 23.9ft at 27.4Kcfs with water temps of 50.  Flows at the mouth of the Trinity at Klamath River are estimated to be 91.5Kcfs.

Klamath: Iron Gate Dam releases are 4,290cfs.  Seiad Valley is 12.2ft at 19.7Kcfs. Happy Camp is estimated at 25.2Kcfs. Somes Bar is estimated at 49.9Kcfs. Orleans is 20.5ft. at 64.5Kcfs. Klamath River at Terwer Creek is 26.7ft at 102Kcfs and water temperatures of 48.2 degrees. Flows at Smith River, Dr. Fine Bridge are 20.3ft at 43.4Kcfs. 

Temperatures in the Valley last week were 65/42 degrees with 2.2 inches of rain with a season total of 63.45in of rain and 2.5in of snow. Temperatures in the valley next week are expected to be 55/31 degrees; with rain & showers, Thu-Sat cloudy, then showers for the rest of the week. 

Good Fish’en and Good Luck but remember; “Keep your tip up with a tight line lands fish.”

Websites: MyOutdoorBuddy.com, Willowcreekchamber.com,
from Willow Creek, CA Phone 530-629-3554, E-mail yen2fish@yahoo.com