season a hit despite closures
Chinook salmon cleaned and weighed await
packing in ice on top of a tote at Hallmark
Fisheries in Port Orford at the end of
November. The Elk River fishery, one of the
last state fisheries, closed this month. The
federal fishing seasons have been closed since
the end of October. Though the Elk River
fishery has been slow and the federal season
was disrupted during the summer, Oregon
fishermen had one of the best seasons on
record in terms of overall value thanks to
Oregon commercial salmon
trollers delivered a bounty of Chinook in 2005 for
a total value of $8.4 million in 2005 - almost a
record, despite some significant season closures
on the South Coast.
Oregon trollers caught about 229,000 Chinook
during the ocean season, according to Oregon
Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Craig
Foster. Though the numbers are preliminary, they
compare with 241,000 fish caught during the same
period in 2004.
“Effort was down, too,” Foster said, referring to
the summer closure this year that prevented many
fishermen from leaving the dock. Federal managers
eliminated fishing in June, July and August
between Florence and Humbug mountain to ensure
some returns of older Klamath River fish.
Last year, the department tallied about 12,200
fishing trips; this year there was little more
than 10,000 commercial salmon trips, Foster said.
“The fishing was probably as good as it was last
year for the days they were fishing,” he said.
More than 560 trollers participated in the 2005
ocean troll season, down by about 30 from the
“The 2005 Oregon salmon troll
Chinook-only season was the second- best revenue
generator since coho were removed from our fishery
back in '93,” said Don Stevens, chairman of the
Salmon Advisory Subpanel that reports to the
federal Pacific Fishery Management Council.
Most of the salmon was brought in after the season
re-opened in September; the fish didn't really
show up during the early season that opened in
March and lasted through May, fishermen said.
But despite the missing middle months, fishermen
made good money. The average price per pound for
all sizes of Chinook during the whole season,
except two weeks in which only the small fish
garnered less, was above $2. At the season's end,
in October, average prices for all sizes of fish
were higher than $4 a pound and - for a couple
weeks - higher than $5 a pound.
Charleston fishermen weren't left out. For all
sizes of fish, the average price for the whole
year was $3.03 a pound. Local trollers landed
nearly one million pounds of Chinook - 992,405
pounds, according to preliminary numbers - for the
whole year. That's more than $3 million worth of
king salmon being delivered in 2005.
“The big slam came in
September,” Stevens said in an e-mail. “Of course,
all the fish were schooled up and trollers had
been parked for a couple of months.”
The Chinook season will again open in 2006 on
March 15, but fishery managers are in the process
of establishing seasons and management measures
for the rest of the season after April. One of the
biggest factors that will affect commercial
fishing is the number of Chinook returning to the
“I wish I could say it was going to be a lot
better,” Foster said, “but it's too early to tell.
We're still looking at Klamath River returns. They
will be available in another month or so.”
The Oregon Salmon Commission likely will meet in
early March, Foster said, to get input from
fishermen about what kind of seasons they would
consider for the remainder of 2006. The federal
fishery council will meet March 5 to 10 in
Seattle; one of the issues members will discuss is
the salmon season.
On the Net:
Oregon Salmon Commission:
Pacific Fishery Management Council: