Despite the effort of many anglers in Southern Oregon to protect the Chetco from becoming a snag fest, the ODFW is still going ahead with the Fall Salmon opener as scheduled on November 2nd. However, in response to the calls for more protections, the limit will be lowered. Anglers will only be allowed to keep 1 wild salmon a day and 10 a year. Anglers may still retain 1 hatchery salmon for a total of 2 adults, and up to 5 jacks a day. The 10 wild salmon a year also applies in aggregate with Floras Creek/New River, the Sixes, Elk, Chetco, and Winchuck rivers.
The Chetco River is currently running extremely low, and the salmon are trapped in the deeper holes. In these conditions most anglers resort to illegally snagging the salmon, which is why many people were asking the ODFW to keep the river closed until we received enough rain for the fish to move upstream. The river may still be closed again after it opens if there is not enough rain expected the following week, and there are too many salmon harvested.
The full press release…
October 30, 2013
GOLD BEACH, Ore. – The Chetco and Winchuck rivers open to fall chinook fishing on Saturday, Nov. 2 with temporary protective harvest restrictions in place.
The restriction means that as part of the two salmon or steelhead per day, 20 per year bag limit, anglers can take only one wild chinook per day and 10 per year through Dec. 31. However, as part of their daily bag limit, anglers can still keep up to five hatchery or wild jack chinook per day. The limit applies in aggregate with other Southwest Zone waters with a 10 wild chinook seasonal limit, including Floras Creek/New River, and the Sixes, Elk, Chetco and Winchuck rivers.
The Chetco and Winchuck rivers closed to fall chinook harvest August 1 due to low water flow. The Chetco currently is at 300 cfs and low flow conditions are expected to continue for at least another week.
When flows are low, chinook tend to stack up at the head of tide and are susceptible to over-harvesting. However, biologists believe that by reducing the bag limit on wild fish, anglers can still harvest chinook without harming the populations.
“We appreciate the feedback we’ve received on both sides of this issue. In managing these fisheries, our goal is to provide angling opportunity while ensuring our wild populations stay healthy,” said Todd Confer, Gold Beach District Fish Biologist. “By opening the chinook fisheries with a reduced bag on wild fish, we’re striking a balance so anglers can get back on the river while still protecting our wild chinook.”
The mission of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is to protect and enhance Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations. The agency consists of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, a commission-appointed director and a statewide staff of approximately 950 permanent employees. Headquartered in Salem, ODFW has regional offices in Clackamas, Roseburg, Bend, and La Grande with ten district offices located throughout the state.