Editors note. The incorrect Andy Martin column ran
on Wednesday. Below is the correct column.
Recent research in Oregon suggests the cycle of warm
ocean conditions that contributed to poor salmon survival
off the West Coast the last few years has ended, setting
the stage for a rebound of Sacramento River fall Chinook.
Salmon from the Sacramento spend the vast majority of
their saltwater life off the far northern coast of
California and the southern and central Oregon coast.
The decline of the Sacramento's once robust Chinook run
led to the complete closure of ocean salmon fishing off of
Crescent City this summer.
Cool, nutrient-rich currents from the Gulf of Alaska
combined with frequent northwest winds this summer have
cooled much of the ocean off of Del Norte County and in
Oregon to around 46 degrees, the ideal temperature for
salmon to thrive.
The cooler water is packed with food for baby salmon,
as well as the baitfish the older salmon feed on.
Researchers at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in
Newport, Ore., said the current ocean conditions are the
best since 1999, which helped fuel the huge returns of
Sacramento, Klamath and Rogue river salmon a few years
While the good ocean conditions could help boost the
size of salmon returning to the Smith and Chetco rivers
this fall, the full benefit will be seen over the next
four years, when young salmon have better conditions to
The greatly improved ocean conditions are also coming
at a good time for salmon migrating down the Smith and
Chetco rivers late this summer on their way to the ocean.
Biologists on the Chetco River this summer noted an
impressive number of juvenile salmon in the Chetco's
estuary during nettings earlier this year. Everything is
falling into place for record-like salmon runs in three
and four years in Del Norte and Curry counties.
Nettings off the Oregon coast, meanwhile, where Klamath
River salmon spend a large portion of their ocean life,
indicated increased numbers of young salmon offshore.
While the ocean conditions are now better, in-river
conditions, especially on the Klamath and Sacramento
rivers, also play a huge role in salmon survival.
After three weeks of good jack numbers but scarce adult
salmon, fall Chinook fishing has picked up in the lower
Klamath. Many guides limited out by mid-morning the past
several days, with lots of fish in the mid-20s.
Side-drifting and dragging roe continues to be the best
bet for Klamath fall salmon.
The large number of jacks, meanwhile, will be good news
next year, as those good ocean conditions will produce
abundant numbers of 20- to 30-pound Klamath kings
On the Rogue River, salmon have been scooting up to the
Grants Pass area, but the bay remains good a few days a
week. Several large fish, including a 58-pounder and
several in the high 40s, were caught last week.
Half-pounder steelhead, meanwhile, are biting well in
the Agness area of the lower Rogue.
Tossing spinners is a good way to trick the Rogue's
summer steelhead into biting early in the morning and late
in the afternoon, while drifting worms or crawfish is
another popular method.
The trophy king season off the mouth of the Chetco
River in Brookings opens for four day Oct. 1.
Outdoors writer Andy Martin, a former editor of
Fishing & Hunting News, runs a halibut charter boat in the
Gulf of Alaska during the summer and guides on America's
Wild Rivers Coast during the winter.