Salmon Fishing Boosted Off California,
by Bill Rudolph
The Pacific Fishery Management Council has given California and southern Oregon commercial fishermen months of salmon fishing to look forward to this year, but off the Washington coast it's a different story.
Even though harvest managers say overall chinook abundance has increased, commercial, recreational and tribal fishermen there will face more cuts in their chinook fisheries to reduce catches of lower Columbia wild fall chinook (tules), which are listed for protection under the ESA. The increased abundance will boost catches in SE Alaska and British Columbia.
Non-Indians will split a 64,600 fall chinook quota and 80,000 marked hatchery coho. Recreational fisheries will also have a week-long mark-selective chinook fishery north of Cape Falcon in June.
Commercial fishers will be allowed 30,900 chinook, much lower than last year's 56,000-fish quota, along with 12,800 coho. Tribal fishers will be allowed 41,000 chinook and 42,000 coho.
South of Cape Falcon, an expected return of more than 700,000 Sacramento fall chinook and near normal returns for the Klamath River will allow both commercial and recreational fishers to chase salmon for months. The optimum spawning range for the Sacramento run is 122,000-180,000 fish. Commercial fishing from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain (California) opened April 15 and is slated to run until July 9, then reopen July 17 through Aug. 31 and all of October.
Different fishing periods with quotas will be in place further south, including about 4 months of fishing time between Point Arena and Monterey, areas where commercial fishing was almost totally closed in 2008 and 2009. Only eight days of fishing was allowed south of Point Arena last year.
An expected natural coho return of 250,000 to the Oregon coast is well above the 15-year average, according to a PFMC news release and a non-mark selective coho fishery is scheduled for early September, after a mark-selective fishery that will open in early July.
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