BROOKINGS — Fishing-gear restrictions meant to curb illegal snagging of fall chinook salmon were lifted Tuesday on the Chetco and Winchuck rivers after significant rains reduced the snagging risk, authorities said.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife lifted the anti-snagging “bobber rule” after rains swelled the rivers enough for chinook to move out of lower-river pools and run upstream.
Since early fall, chinook angling on the Chetco and Winchuck has been relegated to fly-fishing or fishing with a bobber while using artificial lures or bait, with leaders no longer than 3 feet. On the Chetco, the rule applied to the top of tidewater at River Mile 2.2 to the mouth of Nook Creek.
That rule normally disappears Nov. 4, when rains typically raise the rivers and allow chinook to disperse. But rains were late this fall, so ODFW extended the bobber rule through Dec. 31 or when rainfall allowed chinook to move upstream.
Chetco flows had been hovering around 100 cubic feet per second. Flows Tuesday were at 3,035 cfs and rising, according to the Northwest River Forecast Center.
The chinook bag limit on the Chetco remains one per day and five per year through December.
The Chetco is expected to have an average year, with an estimated 2,492 wild chinook expected to escape anglers and spawn, according to ODFW. The lowest minimum target, called the “conservation criteria,” for the Chetco is 1,440 wild adult chinook spawners.