Kicking Out Big Numbers
After drought conditions and now rising flows there has been ONE fishery
that has been steady all season, the upper Klamath.
Wally Johnson had a two boat group of five anglers on Friday 2-7
where they hooked over 40 fish and landed over 25 in the 14" to 7 pound
class. They were drifting roe on the soft side of the tail-outs, holes, and
riffles where fish hold when water temps are cold and fish are biding time
The upper Klamath is not the place to be if
are looking for that 20 pound coastal California trophy but if you like BIG
numbers of 15" -24" fish and lots of action it is the place.
Wally is booking trips through March on both the coast and the upper
Klamath. So far this season the upper Klamath has been a great fishery with
the lack of rain. Now that the rains have return Wally is headed back to the
Smith and Chetco (where he has one of the few upper river permits) and has
dates open though March. With 25 years of guiding the North Coast he is one
of most experienced guides and one of the most enjoyable to fish with.
Forecast Calls for Rain & Higher Flows this Week
We are seeing steady rain and rising rivers across the North Coast for
the first time in weeks. This is setting the stage for great conditions in
the coming week as rivers rise to their highest levels since early October.
As of Saturday 2-8 at 6:AM rainfall totals and river heights are as
Smith looks to crest around 13' later today. The river has risen from 7
feet to 12.6 at this hour. In CFS the river has gone from a low of 2000cfs
to over 12,000 in the past 24 hours. As it drops back in later today into
Sunday we expect some big counts to be posted by local guides. Wally
Johnson, Kevin Brock, Tony Sepulveda and Dave Jacobs all have room for the
coming week. The outlook calls for unsettled weather through the week. I
suggest that readers use
river guidance plot to plan their trips. The Smith is my top bet for the
coming week! Left is this morning's Smith river plot.
The Mad river has seen just .55" over the past 24 hours but has risen
from 5' to 7.3' or from 200cfs to 900cfs. There are a ton of hatchery
steelhead that have been holding in the lower river and this rise will have
the fish quickly pushing up towards the hatchery. The river will be muddy
and I don't want to get into politics but liners will rule the banks.
Conventional anglers will find it too muddy to bounce roe so head to the
Smith and don't whine to me about tactics.
If you are not famaliar with the Mad spot by or contact Mad river Tackle at
707 826-7201 for additional information.
Eel has seen just under an 1" at Miranda with the river up from 6 to 7.6
feet or from 60cfs to 450cfs. The river will rise throughout today and is
expected to crest at 8000cfs around midnight. With dam releases completely
cut back the Eel will clear after these next systems a bit quicker than
normal. This will be in my top bets next week once flows at Miranda drop.
The optimal level is something that readers have to figure out for
Pictured right a "double" of late season Eel steelhead from March of
2013 that client's of Tony Sepulveda are about to release.
On the Russian rainfall totals west
of Healdsburg at Venado are 2.35 but the river has risen from 40cfs to just
80. The ground is so dry that all this rain is just soaking in and with
releases from Lake Mendo at just 30cfs it will take time for runoff to bring
flows up. The river is expected to crest at 4400cfs on Sunday and drop back
to 800 by Tuesday. The F& G Commission has closed the Russian but it will
take until the February 23rd for the legal eagles in Sac to adopt into law.
I would ask anglers to avoid the Russian so they don't intercept endangered
coho. If the unethical put too much pressure on these fish we could see a
much more restricted fishery in the future. We are in this together.
The upper Trinity and Klamath
rivers are still low as the bulk of the rainfall has been along the coast.
Both are seeing small rises and should continue a slow and steady climb in
the coming days. Both are likely adding some color and
should offer good fishing all this week.
Wally Johnson reports they are seeing 3 to 7 mostly smaller adults to 7
pounds on the upper Klamath is week. The Trinity has been low and clear and
giving up 1 to 3 fish to 8 pounds this past month. If the coast rivers blow
out these two would be a great bet later this week as more fish push up with
Tribe and Klamath Riverkeeper settle Shasta River ESA lawsuit
the Klamath Riverkeeper and Karuk Tribe announced the reaching of a
settlement with the Montague Water Conservation District (MWCD) that will
dismiss litigation the groups filed in August 2012 over the operation of the
district's Shasta River dams and diversions. |
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Sacramento, alleged that the
operation of the MWCD's dams and diversions, including Dwinnell Dam and Lake
Shastina, led to the illegal killing of endangered coho salmon populations
in the Shasta River. The Shasta, a major Klamath River tributary, is one of
the most significant coho salmon spawning and rearing habitats in the
According to the complaint, the MWCD is violating the federal Endangered
Species Act (ESA) by killing of ESA-listed coho without a take permit. |
"The Agreement focuses on a new management strategy for Dwinnell Reservoir
as opposed to cutting flows to irrigators so MWCD should not see a big
difference in the volumes of water it diverts," according to a joint news
release from the Karuk Tribe and Klamath Riverkeeper. The Tribe and
Riverkeeper said the settlement benefits both fish and farmers.
“We worked hard to find a solution that would start the fisheries
restoration process but keep our neighbors in agriculture whole,” said Karuk
Chairman Buster Attebery.
The settlement calls for the reimbursement of attorney’s fees and costs
incurred by the litigation. It requires MWCD to pay $550,000 to Klamath
Riverkeeper and the Karuk Tribe over the course of six years, beginning with
an initial payment of $150,000 within 10 days of the signing of the
agreement, according to Craig Tucker, Klamath Coordinator for the Karuk
In exchange, the Karuk Tribe and Riverkeeper agree to not pursue any further
litigation against the district requiring:
• the construction of fish ladders at Dwinnell Dam
• paying for fish passage measures beyond Lake Shastina
• the removal of Dwinnell Dam.
The court claim requirement will be in effect for 30 years, according to the
Historically, MWCD has diverted approximately 22,000 acre-feet of water a
year on average, according to the news release. The Agreement allows MWCD to
divert 20,500 acre feet of water for irrigation although in dry years they
may get less and in wet years they will get more, according to Tucker.
Water models predict that average diversion over time will be nearly the
same as historic average diversions.
“Since Dwinnell Dam was built in 1926, nearly the entire river has been
diverted, leaving salmon high and dry,” explained Karuk DNR Director Leaf
Hillman. “This has been a key factor in the decline of ESA listed coho
The settlement will result in 2,250 to 11,000 acre feet of water being
released from Dwinnell Dam for fisheries benefits each year, with the exact
volume for any given year dependent on how wet the preceding winter was.
Currently, fish only receive a few hundred-acre feet of water a year in the
Shasta River from Dwinnell, if any at all.
“This is a big increase in flows for fish and we expect the fisheries
benefits will be seen immediately,” said Toz Soto, Karuk Senior Fisheries
The flow plan stemming from the agreement is temporary. Under terms of the
settlement, MWCD will have to develop a long-term flow plan and habitat
restoration measures that will be subject to a formal Endangered Species Act
permitting process that will include public input. That process will begin
late in 2014.
"Litigation was a necessary but difficult route," said Konrad Fisher,
Executive Director of the Klamath Riverkeeper. "We hope for a more
collaborative approach to end the unlawful dewatering of other Klamath River
The MWCD issued a press release praising the settlement, but disagreed with
Fisher’s statement that the litigation was necessary.
“MWCD is pleased that the terms of the settlement agreement are consistent
with the long established conservation objectives that the district has long
been promoting and implementing,” according to the MWCD release. "In 2006
MWCD and other proactive agricultural operators in the Scott and Shasta
Rivers attempted to acquire ESA coverage for incidental take of Coho salmon
through standard agricultural operational activities in exchange for
collectively protecting, expanding and enhancing Coho salmon habitat.”
“This was a community and agency supported effort intended to protect
fishery resources while also preventing legal challenges against proactive
family farms,” the district stated.
“However, this effort was thwarted by environmental groups, including
Klamath Riverkeeper and the Karuk Tribe, that successfully sued in 2011 to
prevent the implementation of the fully developed program. MWCD found it
extremely disheartening to then be sued by the very entities that eliminated
a locally developed program for not having the take coverage that program
would have provided,” according to the release.
“While MWCD is financially strained as a result of the legal challenge, it
will steadfastly meet the objectives of the agreement, meet the needs of its
users, and provide water for the city of Montague. Montague Water
Conservation District will not fail,” the release concluded.
Responding to the MWCD press release, Tucker said litigation was an
“unfortunate but necessary means to achieve restoration.”
“Coho were listed in 1997 and nothing had been done to get take permits,”
emphasized Tucker. “With this agreement we’ll now get in-river flows for
fish that haven’t been seen since 1926. We’re going from 2,250 acre feet to
11,000 acre feet of water being released from Dwinnell Dam for fish. This
isn't enough water to restore the fishery, but is a big step in that
He noted that the best solution to fish passage above the dam, rather than a
fish ladder, would be a fish bypass connecting Parks Creek to the upper
Shasta River above the reservoir.
The Shasta River is considered by many state, federal and tribal fisheries
biologists to be one of the most important coho spawning and rearing
habitats in the entire Klamath River Basin. The actions resulting from the
agreement are also expected to benefit Chinook salmon and steelhead on the
river. A recent report detailing the effects of MWCD’s Dwinnell Dam on
Shasta River fisheries can be found at:
Our favorite campground
Kamp Klamath "on the
quite side of the river". They offer
discounts for those
anglers looking to park
their RV for a month or
more and enjoy a few
weeks of this incredible
fishery. They have
full hookups and the
entire campground has
Don't miss the Saturday night salmon and chicken B-Q
with live music!
Klamath is a secure,
campground surrounded by
Redwood National Park
and where we have set up
our fish camp for
over 25 years. Great
people and a great place
to stay. 707 482-0227
Motor Home Magazine has a feature
article about Kamp Klamath and FunBus Tours.
Panther Creek vacation
those of you booking a
trip with one of our
guides and not
interested in camping
and looking for
something more than a
hotel room check out
this river front house.
This vacation rental is
located on the lower
river at Panther Creek
and sleeps up to 10.
It's perfect for a
family weekend getaway
or larger groups. We
know that a few of our
readers have booked the
home and have enjoyed
its prime location.
Accommodations & Shops:
"Little Ray's Tackle" in
Klamath Glen. For all
your tackle needs stop
by Little Rays. This is
a must stop for anglers
new to the river. The
crew behind the counter
will be more than happy
to answer all your
questions and point you
in the right direction.
Located just past the
Steelhead Lodge. 707
In Seiad Valley sits
River Side Park
a quiet little RV park
right on the banks of
the Klamath for anglers
looking for a quieter
stretch of the river
away from the crowds.
For river status (low flow
closure) updates from Fish
and Game please call
+1.707.442.4502 for the
North coast and
+1.707.944.5533 for Central
coast streams. Be sure to
check out the
California Fish and Game
before you go. Regulations
vary on every river and you
need to pay attention to
bait and hook restrictions.
Due to winter closures on
HWYs 5, 101 & 299 we
recommend you check
Caltrans road conditions
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