Low Salmon Returns Cause Low Quotas

Trinity River - Willow Creek Weir - Willow Creek, CA (Humboldt County)

Photo Credit: Courtesy of E.B Duggan

by E.B. Duggan
3-14-2021

The Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC) salmon advisory team has come out with some preliminary numbers for Pacific Coast Fall Chinook salmon harvest availability. The cause; there are many causes but everyone wants to point the finger at someone else or some other problem. Science says that the reason there are declining returns of Chinook and Coho salmon is the lack of habitat and reduction of hatchery production. Habitat and water quality have been a longtime problem that everyone has an answer for. Dams blocking fish passage, no water for habitat and rearing young fish, bad ocean conditions, over harvesting and the blame goes on. When we have low numbers of salmon returns somebody has to decide what amount of salmon can be harvested and nobody likes that. I can remember when CDFW closed the Sacramento River to the harvesting or take of salmon for the season and there was such an uproar that everyone wanted to run the Fish and Game Commissioners out of town on a rail, but the next year there were very good returns and a great salmon fishing season. This year’s salmon returns are of such that maybe there should be “NO HARVESTING” of salmon this year and try to let the salmon recover for better returns in the future. I do know that the commercial salmon fishermen are really hurting, many have already closed shop for the year. Tribal harvests have been on the decline as well. The Yuroks decided to NOT have a commercial fishing season last year and possibly this year. Yes, there are nets in the rivers, but those are supposed to be only for subsistence fishing for tribal members. I hope to have some numbers for you in the near future so you can make the decision of where you will go fishing this coming season.        

Trinity River Hatchery: Julian week 10 ending on Mar.11, 2021; Chinook salmon, 0-jacks, 0- adults, total 0, season total 7,103; Coho salmon , 0- jacks, 0 adults, total 0, season total 2,333; steelhead 6, season total 590.

Upper Klamath River rotary Screw Trapping count: Julian week 10 ending on Mar. 11, 2021; Shasta River; Chinook salmon 27,525, season total 476,748 Juveniles, 1yr old 5,season total 20;; Coho 0, season total 20,798; Scott River, Chinook salmon 64 , season total 129 juveniles; 1yr old Chinook 2, season total; 1yr old Coho salmon 2, season total 11; 81 juveniles, season total 197.

Fishing: This past week I received notice of adult down runner steelhead being caught if the Willow Creek area. It appears that the ½-pounders are thinning out some. Several guides drifted the South Fork to Big Rock run and were rewarded with a couple of adults (down runners) sprinkled with 10 to 20 ½-pounders. That is not bad for days fishing. Up river has been the same, one day the fishing is great and the next is a flop. What can I say but to give it a try, plugs and bait are the drift boats choice and bait or hardware are the bank fishers choice.

I have also received word that if you were to drive down to the river in Hoopa and were fishing that you would not be given a citation? I cannot verify that yet but I got the word from a reliable source. I guess you just have to take the chance.
Mid-Klamath to Happy Camp: The Klamath River at Weitchpec is flowing 8.109cfs. This is a decrease of 1,175cfs. Iron Gate Dam is releasing N/Acfs. The CDEC is down this morning so I am unable to retrieve the flows today. I am not sure if one can access the Weitchpec area or if it is still closed to the general public because of the COVID 19. Fishing in the Seiad Valley (Happy Camp area) is fair to good for trout and some down runner adult steelhead. Hwy 96 is open on a variable time due to the heavy rains closing the road but it is opened as soon possible at the slide, the rest of the area is accessible for fishing. Above I-5 is good fishing for trout and steelhead. If you want to check for conditions, I would recommend you contact Scott Caldwell of SC Guide Service.

Lake Conditions: Whiskeytown is 85% of capacity (a decrease of 0%) with inflows of 166cfs and releasing 457cfs on to Keswick. Shasta Lake is 51% of capacity (an increase of 1% plus 1ft) with inflows of 4,985cfs and releasing 2,7804cfs into Keswick. Keswick is 91% (an increase of 5%) with inflows of 3,231cfs and releasing 3,481cfs into the Sacramento river. Oroville Lake is 39% of capacity (an increase of 1% plus 1ft) with inflows of 1,863cfs with releases of 777cfs into the Feather River. Folsom Lake is 35% of capacity (an increase of 0% plus 1ft) with inflows of 1,443cfs with releases of 3,430cfs into the American river.

Trinity Lake: The lake is 86ft below the overflow (a decrease of 1ft) and 52% of capacity (an increase of 0%) with inflows of 691fs and releasing 451cfs into Lewiston Lake with N/Acfs being diverted to Whiskeytown Lake and on to Keswick Power Plant, which is releasing 3,481cfs into the Sacramento River.

Trinity River flows and conditions: The CDEC graphs are down this morning so I have no flows for today. Lewiston Dam is 95% of capacity (a decrease of 1%) and water releases are 0 cfs into the Trinity River, with water temperatures of degrees, as of 11:30am today Monday Mar. 14, 2021. Limekiln Gulch is 0ft at 0cfs. Douglas City is 0with flows of 0cfs. with air temps of 0 and water temperatures of 0 degrees. Junction City is 1.88ft at 422cfs. Helena is 0ft at 0cfs with water temps of 0degrees. Cedar Flat (Burnt Ranch) is 0ft at 0cfs. South Fork of the Trinity near Hyampom is 0cfa at 0cfs. Willow Creek is estimated at 0and air is 47 degrees and water at 0 degrees. Hoopa is 14.14ft at 3,160cfs and water is 0 degrees.

Water flows at the mouth of the Trinity River at the Klamath in Weitchpec are estimated to be 8,109cfs a decrease of 1,175cfs.

Klamath River flows and conditions: CDEC gauges are down. No readings this morning. Iron Gate is releasing 0cfs. Seiad Valley is 0ft at 0cfs. Happy Camp is estimated at 0cfs, Somes Bar is estimated to be 0cfs, and the Salmon River is 0ft at 0cfs. Orleans is 0ft at 0cfs, the Klamath River at Terwer Creek is 11.66ft at 11,070cfs and water temps are 0 degrees. Flows for the Smith River at Jed Smith are 8.07ft with flows of 0cfs. and flows at Dr. Fine Bridge are 0ft at N/A cfs.  Temperatures in the Valley last week had a high of 64 and a low of 34 degrees. Rain for the week was 1.7in with a water year total to date of 41.56 inches and 1.5in of snow in Willow Creek. The weather predicted for next week is high of 68 and a low of 26. We are expecting some snow showers mixed with rain showers towards the end of the week with snow of 4in to 8in on the passes. Call ahead before you travel.


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


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