By Michelle Ma, Triplicate July 11, 2008,
Just as the state is finalizing the number of chinook
salmon that can be caught in the Klamath River this fall,
local leaders have launched a campaign to spread the word
about the river's likely abundance of salmon for anglers.
The Klamath Chamber of Commerce recently started a "Got
Fish?" campaign to emphasize the fact that the Klamath is
one of the only rivers in California that will have a fall
chinook sport fishing season this year.
"We're really in a pretty opportunistic, advantageous
position up here," said Larry Hanson, a senior biologist
with California Department of Fish and Game, speaking from
his office in Redding. "This is the second-largest
(fishing) allocation on the Klamath in the last 30 years."
Hanson, who spoke about the river's potential for
anglers at a Klamath chamber meeting in May, said Thursday
that the California Fish and Game Commission has approved
the requested allocations. The official numbers are still
tentative until the state's Office of Administrative Law
enacts the regulations, he said.
Clearing the Fish and Game Commission was the big
hurdle, Hanson said, adding that he doesn't expect the law
office to change anything other than minor language
The fall chinook season on the Klamath and Trinity
rivers will begin Aug. 15, and most of the fish returning
will be large 4-year-old salmon. The commission has
approved a catch allotment of 22,500 fall chinook salmon,
and 11,250 of those would go to sport anglers in the
Klamath below Weitchipec.
The Klamath above Weitchipec is allowed about 3,800
salmon, and the upper and lower segments of the Trinity
River will each get about 3,700 fish.
The tribal allocation will be 27,000 salmon.
Elsewhere around the state, in-river sport fishing will
be meager, officials said. A limited Sacramento River
fishery starting Nov. 1 will target late-fall chinook, and
the Smith River in Del Norte County will also be open for
a regular season, fisheries biologists said.
In-river fishing restrictions that persist throughout
the state reflect the Central Valley fall chinook fishery
collapse that closed ocean salmon fishing coast-wide to
protect that stock. But chinook returning to the Klamath
River this fall are expected to be strong, and with no
fish going toward an ocean allocation, the numbers
available to anglers on the Klamath have skyrocketed.
"You can attribute (the generous allocation) to the
fact that these fish are not being taken in the sea this
year," Hanson said.
Still, the Klamath's meaty allocations have been
generally overlooked elsewhere in California since ocean
and other river fishing closures were announced this
"The overriding perception is there's not a place to
fish for salmon in the state of California," Hanson said.
And that's where the Klamath chamber's campaign comes
An advertisement for the "Got Fish?" initiative
announces that the town has more than 1,500 RV and tent
sites, as well as more than 90 lodging rooms to choose
from. Local officials hope that a number of fishermen and
guides from around the state will descend on Del Norte
County for the fall season.
Steelhead Lodge in the Klamath Glen has seen regular
numbers of guests in its motel and RV park, said owner
Paula Zimmerman. She said more guests have booked lodging
later into October, but that could be because last year's
fishing during the first part of October was strong.
What Zimmerman is seeing, however, is numerous
customers who think that, as with most of the state's
rivers, there will be no fishing on the Klamath this fall,
"They have no idea the Klamath is open for fishing,"
Zimmerman said. "It just kills me when they say that."
Still, Zimmerman said she has seen businesses in
Klamath sprucing up and getting ready for what most people
hope will be a busier-than-usual fall season.
"It seems like the community is showing a little more
pride in our community," Zimmerman said.
Reach Michelle Ma at firstname.lastname@example.org.