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Fall-run Chinook lags; coho run will be huge

Collapsed California run to limit Chinook action off much of the coast

Statesman Journal April 10, 2009

For a second year in a row, a collapsed salmon run on the Sacramento River in California will mean almost no sport fishing for fall-run Chinook off the central and southern Oregon coast.

That's in contrast to a north coast Chinook season that is on par or slightly better than 2008.

Taking up the slack, though, with a robust run of coho salmon forecast, ocean sport fishing off of all of Oregon promises to be the best in years.

Seasons, the allowed total catch and bag limits were approved Wednesday in Millbrae, Calif., by members of the Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The recommendation will be forwarded to the National Marine Fisheries Service for approval by May 1.

Here's a rundown of what's in store:

Columbia River Subarea: From Leadbetter Point, Wash., south to Cape Falcon, near Manzanita, the season will run June 28 through Sept. 30 or until 88,200 hatchery fin-clipped coho are landed.

The cap on Chinook is 5,400.

The season will be open seven days a week with a two-salmon daily bag limit, but only one of those can be a Chinook.

As in past years, open days and bag limits could be adjusted to keep the season open.

Cape Falcon to the california border: Open June 20 through Aug. 31 or until 110,000 hatchery fin-clipped coho are landed.

Fishing would be open seven days a week with a three-coho daily bag limit.

After that, coho fishing would be open seven days a week Sept. 1 through 30 or until 7,000 hatchery fish are caught with a two-fish daily limit.

Also, any fish left over from the June 20 through Aug. 31 season could be rolled over to the September fishery.

Humbug Mountain near Port Orford to the California border: Along with the coho season, a minimal Chinook season will be open off the southwest corner of the state.

Fishing would be open for just 10 days, Aug. 29 through Sept. 7, with a two-fish bag limit and a 24-inch minimum size for Chinook.

Hardest hit in the regulations are commercial anglers.

Chinook fishing will be prohibited off the entire California coast for a second consecutive year, and a similar ban will be in place off Oregon south of Cape Falcon.

But commercial salmon anglers will have a limited coho fishery in September between Falcon and Humbug Mountain.

Sacramento Chinook stocks are the driver for both commercial and sport fishing off of California and the southern half of Oregon.

The minimum set for maintaining healthy stocks is 122,000 to 180,000 spawning adult Chinook on the Sacramento.

In 2008, 66,200 fall run Chinook returned to the river.

This year's projection is for double that, about 122,100 fish, but still not enough to meet the minimum to open sport and commercial seasons.

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