Ocean anglers get 100-day chinook season

Recreational anglers in Southern Oregon will enjoy a 100-day ocean fishing season this year that targets fall chinook salmon bound for the Rogue River under season frameworks adopted Tuesday by federal fish managers.

One year after a crash in Klamath River salmon returns triggered a full-scale closure to sport and commercial fishing off Southern Oregon and Northern California, coastal anglers will get an uninterrupted chinook season from May 19 through Aug. 26.

The season framework, which includes Memorial Day weekend but not the popular Labor Day weekend, was the most liberal on the table for the Pacific Fishery Management Council when the council set the seasons Tuesday during a meeting in Portland.

The season includes a two-chinook daily bag limit. However, no coho salmon fishing is in the framework for this year.

The PFMC also adopted a summer commercial troll season off Southern Oregon based on monthly quotas, with a maximum of 4,000 chinook landed. Like sport anglers, the commercial fleet off Brookings, Gold Beach and Port Orford saw no chinook fishing last spring and summer.

The seasons were scheduled to be finalized by the end of April by the Department of Commerce, a move historically seen as a formality.

The ocean season was crafted around estimates that 462,800 Rogue fall chinook are now in the ocean, which is almost twice that of last year.

Those fish entered the ocean during the drought years of 2014 and 2015, but they largely escaped low and warm summer flows thanks to supplemental water from Lost Creek and Applegate reservoirs.

In contrast, Sacramento-bound chinook smolts were hit hard by drought, triggering poor survival rates, with estimates of 229,400 Sacramento chinook in the ocean, down 1,300 from last year, PFMC statistics show.

That dip in Sacramento-bound chinook kept the season from opening earlier and closing later than the framework adopted Tuesday.

The recreational sport season off the Oregon coast north of Humbug Mountain opened March 15 for chinook and will remain open through October. The fin-clipped coho salmon season for that region opens June 30 and will run through Sept. 3, but it will end early if a 35,000-fish quota is met.

The commercial fishery off Southern Oregon will have monthly open dates with quotas. The fleet’s landings will be capped here at 1,500 chinook in June, 2,000 in July and 500 in August.

Also, fall sport and commercial seasons are expected off the mouth of the Chetco River this fall. Those seasons will be set by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission when it meets in April 20 in Astoria. No proposed dates or quotas for those fisheries were immediately available Wednesday from the PFMC.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

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