Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.


ODFW, trollers discuss fishery options

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Ron Boyce talks about fall Chinook returns and commercial fishing options for bubble fisheries around some Oregon river mouths in 2007. South Coast trollers discussed experiences of last year and options for this year at a meeting at the Charleston RV Park recreation room on Wednesday. World Photo by Madeline Steege

CHARLESTON - Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife officials heard plenty from local salmon trollers Wednesday regarding potential state-waters fishing opportunity later this year.

The overwhelming statement was that state fisheries extend out to the full three miles - not only 30 fathoms, as was the case in several “bubble fisheries” around local river mouths last year.

In the wake of a closed commercial season last year, the department designed bubble fisheries in state waters that would target healthy fall Chinook stocks returning to specific rivers. Data suggested that fishermen would have little or no impact on the Klamath River stock - the fish that limited the federal season.

The only problem was that the experiment didn't work quite as expected. On Wednesday, the department tracked comments from fishermen at the Charleston RV Park recreation room on exactly what did - and didn't - work.

Some of the allowed areas to fish were too small, too limited. A weather anomaly, cold water that settled in near several of the rivers, pushed the fish offshore. When salmon did venture near the river mouths, most were intent on getting upriver to spawn, passing by fishermen's lures. Only a handful of fish were caught in state waters.

“It was an odd situation,” Charleston troller Paul Merz said of the colder water temperatures.

For many, it also was frustrating because commercial boats, limited to a certain portion of state waters within a 3-mile limit, watched as sport fishermen zoomed past to 5 or 6 miles offshore and caught their limits of Chinook.

That fact still rankled a few trollers Wednesday.

When federal waters are closed to commercials, sport boats also should be limited to state waters, J.D. Evanow, of Charleston, said.

“We need to pull them inside 3-mile waters,” he said. “We need to collect data from those boats.”


That's not an easy fix, said Ron Boyce, ODFW's technical resources program manager for the department's Ocean Salmon and Columbia River programs. Those kinds of issues would have to be taken up through the federal process.

However, noting trollers' concern, ODFW staff accessed coded-wire tag data, information used to get an idea of the catch distribution. The raw data, before being extrapolated, showed that 8 percent of the coded-wire tag returns in the sport sector were from Klamath River fall Chinook. The commercial sector, with all of the fishing occurring north of Florence, returned tags from Klamath River fish of 5 percent.

Generally, Boyce said, both sport and commercial sectors are supportive of one another on the South Coast. Fishermen agreed that yes, there should also be sport opportunity, but voiced their frustrations at being tied to the dock day after day and seeing sport boat after sport boat return with more fish.

Ocean Salmon sampling project leader Eric Schindler said that both sectors - sport and commercial - are managed at the federal level on their impacts on specific runs of salmon.

“Historically, commercials take about 10 times more (Klamath River fall Chinook) than sports,” Schindler said.

Boyce said that one option the state is considering, after a request made by the Oregon Salmon Commission, would be to completely open state waters to salmon trolling from border to border, if the federal fishery is closed. Other options are for bubble fisheries with expanded areas.

What is the enforcement considerations of a 30-fathom bubble vs. a 3-mile bubble, troller Jeff Reeves asked.

Oregon State Police Sgt. David Gifford said a 3-mile limit would definitely be easier to enforce.

“The 30-fathom curve varies all over,” Gifford said.

Several ideas for expanded areas around the Siuslaw, Umpqua, Coos, Elk, Rogue and Chetco rivers were discussed, but most fishermen agreed to skip the Rogue River option altogether. The fish generally aren't available during the time a bubble fishery would be allowed, trollers said, and the bar at Gold Beach is unpredictable.

Boyce said he would compile all the comments and forward them and a matrix of options to Oregon Salmon Commission Administrator Nancy Fitzpatrick so fishermen could look them over and comment before the Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting on April 13 in Salem.

Federal fisheries managers also will be seeking public input on three proposed for both sport and commercial fishing in federal waters. The Pacific Fishery Management Council will decide in April which options to choose. Council representatives will accept public input at a meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 26, at the South Umpqua room of the Red Lion Hotel in Coos Bay.

Home Contact


              Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM  Pacific

             Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2007, All Rights Reserved