Salmon Action good at Blue Creek
There are a bunch of salmon and steelies "kegged up" at Blue
Creek where the cold flows of this small tributary drops river temps
by several degrees. We received a couple of reports on Tuesday
8-19 of good fishing in this one small area and some scattered
fish being taken on the riffles and faster moving slots (Blakes, the
Orchard, Brooks). Overall guides are seeing 5 to 10 salmon per boat
(again mostly at Blue Creek) and lots of half pound steelies with
many boats seeing 12 to 20 plus of these hard fighting 1 to 3 pound
The word is that some of the salmon are (5%) are showing white and
red legions in their gills a sign of gill rot and maybe the
beginning of what we saw in 2002. Like 2002 with ultra low flows,
HOT river temps and lots of fish pressured into one small area an
outbreak of gill rot is a big concern. A couple of weeks back I
wrote that it was unfair to target fish that were just trying to
survive by holding at Blue Creek. Now I'm changing my tune to "maybe
it would be better to thin these fish out so they are not so
concentrated and we don't have a major outbreak of gill rot.
It would be nice to see Cal Fish and Wildlife weigh in and it would
be even better for a release of cold water off the Trinity where the
Feds have so far refused to release any additional flows. Releasing
flows to salmon makes much for sense than pumping water to the
Central Valley to irrigate almonds when 80% of the almonds are
At the mouth reports have been sporadic. There was good action last
week with salmon also pushing into the estuary and the lower
river. Quota counts began last Friday August 15th and with just over
a 600 fish quota at the mouth but just a one adult limit (the limit
this season is three per day but only ONE can be an adult) we should
see the mouth (spit) stay open for another week or two. We shoukd
receive the latest counts on Wednesday evening.
Salmon at the Mouth/ River Low and Warm
There are decent to good numbers of salmon pushing in and back out
with the tides at the mouth of the Klamath. Bankies are scoring some
limits on some days and the action has been warm to hot depending on
Speaking of hot; water temps in the lower
river from Klamath Glen to
Blue Creek are in the mid 70s but guides are seeing 5 to 10 steelies
and a few salmon working through the riffles from Blakes to Blue
Creek. On Saturday 8-2 Wally Johnson worked from Blakes to
Blue Creek section. They hooked roughly 20 fish a mix of adult and
half pounder steelies and a handful of salmon. He got a couple at
Blakes, a couple at the Orchard and then ran to Blue Creek where
Wally said it was unprecedented for number of fish (trapped) in the
small section where the colder flows of Blue Creek move into the
With river temps in the high 70s these fish are seeking cold water
in the ONLY PLACE they can find it. Apparently some "sport anglers"
are taking advantage of these literally trapped fish and hooking and
releasing many that then just go belly up. Wally said that that he
saw several floaters (recently hooked fish unable to take the stress
of the warm flows after being hooked but this barely swimming) and
tried to revive two without success. With the current ultra
low flows and high temps sport anglers should opt to NOT take
advantage of these fish with literally no other place to go. They
are just holding in the one place in the lower river where they
awaiting cooler flows or rain. It's NOT SPORTING to shoot fish
in a barrel and sport anglers and guides should avoid this area
until we see cooler or higher flows.
Wally Johnson has space available through August and will begin
regular salmon and steelie combo trips in September.
Here on Saturday 7-26 there are reports of guides and private
boaters seeing 2 to 10 adult steelies and 1 to 3 salmon. Most of the
action has been around Blue Creek and in the faster riffles and
flats from the Glen to Blue Creek.
There are also salmon staging at the mouth with fish moving in and
back out with the tides. We have second hand reports of bankies
landing a few very scattered salmon at the mouth and the gillnets
taking a few in the estuary. If the mouth (spit) holds it's present
location this allows the estuary to flush and each high tides brings
an influx of cooler ocean water. If the mouth slides south (which is
often the case in low flows years like this) a bar will form and the
estuary warms up as the warmer river flows are not able to flush
out. Last season with a long south facing mouth the estuary warmed
to the high 70s and while fishing was great on the spit in August
and September the salmon held in the ocean until late September when
rivers water temps dropped. With flows even lower this year I would
expect that we will see the mouth move south in the coming weeks.
Currently we have some springers moving through and adults caught
before August 15th typically don't count towards the fall run quota
until late in August.
In the time being hope for early rain and an increase in flows that
may cool the river.
and Fall Salmon Season Ahead
flows, low quotas and high water temps will result in tough fishing conditions
for Klamath anglers this salmon season.
This summer and fall will bring some of the most challenging conditions on the
Klamath river since the early 90s. With the current drought, the Klamath river is under a
"critically dry" definition which means that releases off upstream dams will be
cut to a bare minimum. As of Friday July 4th flows off Lewiston dam (Trinity lake)
are at 450CFS.
On the upper Klamath at Iron gate flows are currently at 900cfs This is going to
result in extremely low and warm conditions in the lower river. Water temps will
likely climb to the high 70s in the estuary in August.
PFMC set the quota for the ENTIRE Klamath River Basin
fall run of 4,184 adult Chinook salmon, with the lower river to get half
that number. Spit anglers (Klamath mouth )will only receive 15% of the quota.
Quotas for the lower river are just over 2000 adult fish while the upper Klamath
river is allowed just 711 fall Chinook salmon. Trinity
anglers will be allowed to 1,380 fish between the lower and upper rivers. The daily bag limit will be three (3) fish per day with
of which only one can be over 22" (adult)
and two (2) jacks, and a total of 9 Chinook in possession, and no more than 3
One only has to look at the 2013 season when low flows and water temps in the
estuary kept the bulk of the run holding outside the mouth. While "spit'
anglers saw great action and easy limits the salmon fishing inside the estuary
and lower river was very slow. Estuary temps were running in the mid to high 70
degree range August through September (2013) and few salmon were willing or able
to move into the lower river.
With river flows this season being even lower than last I expect we see even
more challenging conditions this season. They include:
With low river flows the river will close repeatedly
all summer especially during periods of high tides and higher swell.
High temps in the estuary will act like a curtain that will kept fish in the
ocean as they will be unwilling to push through the hot water temps in the
estuary. Last season we saw temps in the mid to high 70s through late September.
They could climb even higher this season with the low river flows.
Guides will be catching some fish in those spots that have cooler
flows like the mouth of Blue Creek but warm river temps will
have the salmon coming in spurts
With the low "spit" quota I would expect the quota will be reached before
Labor day. If so anglers will NOT be able to fish the spit even for jacks.
This will be devastating for the few last campgrounds and businesses still
holding on. (There were so many infractions handed out at the spit last season
both Fish and Wildlife and local guides proposed the closure after 15% of the
total quota is reached not the quota on the entire river). With few accessible public areas to fish outside the
mouth and the bars around Klamath Glen bank anglers will have little access to
the lower river fishery. Guides of course will have the entire river to fish.
Despite all these challenges there will be better fishing late September.
Like last year, as the nights get cooler and shorter water temps will drop and
the fish will make their way in likely in a huge push. We saw some excellent
scores for guides last October and the I would expect that after slow
August and early September that fishing will improve for those here later in the
Pictured above: the mouth of the Klamath on July 6th 2014 sent in by Gdm.
Step Forward For Klamath River Restoration
One of the nationís
biggest dam removal and river restoration efforts got a major boost
on Friday with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) announcing that he will
introduce legislation to authorize the Klamath River restoration
Elected officials, Tribal leaders, and farming, ranching, and
conservation representatives gathered Friday to celebrate the
signing of the
Upper Klamath Basin
Comprehensive Agreement (UKBCA). The agreement resolves
water rights disputes among the Klamath Tribes and upper basin
irrigators, and permanently increases river flows, protects
riverside lands, and provides $40 million to the Klamath Tribes for
Senator Wyden announced that he will introduce legislation that
authorizes the UKBCA, as well as the two existing Klamath settlement
agreements, the Klamath Hydropower Settlement Agreement and the
Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement. Together the three agreements
will resolve long-standing water rights disputes, increase water
supply reliability for upper basin agricultural communities, improve
river flows and water quality, restore wetlands, and allow for the
removal of PacifiCorpís lower four Klamath River dams. The
restoration agreements are necessary to restore struggling Klamath
The agreements, the first of which was finalized in 2010, are the
product of years of negotiations among more than 40 stakeholder
groups including American Rivers, with the goal of restoring the
river, reviving ailing salmon and steelhead runs, and revitalizing
fishing, tribal, and farming communities.
Removing the four dams will open access to more than 300 miles of
habitat for salmon and steelhead. When dam removal begins on the
Ėscheduled for 2020 Ė it will be one of the nationís largest
dam removal projects. Before the settlement agreements can be fully
implemented, Congress must pass Senator Wydenís legislation and
appropriate funds, and California must contribute an estimated $80
million to augment the $200 million being collected from PacifiCorp
ratepayers for dam removal and river restoration. No federal funds
will be used for dam removal.
PacifiCorpís four dams, built between 1908 and 1962, cut off
hundreds of miles of once-productive salmon spawning and rearing
habitat in the Upper Klamath, which was once the third most
productive salmon river on the West Coast. The dams also create
toxic conditions in the reservoirs that threaten the health of fish
The dams produce a nominal amount of power, which can be replaced
using renewables and efficiency measures, without contributing to
climate change. A study by the California Energy Commission and the
Department of the Interior found that removing the dams and
replacing their power would save PacifiCorp customers up to $285
million over 30 years.
1,150 dams have been removed
51 dams were removed in 2013.