Fishing restrictions are in place on Klamath River

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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It used to be that some of the hottest salmon fishing in the fall occurred on the Klamath River. Campgrounds were packed, and the mouth of the Klamath literally was a sea of boats.

A limit of Chinook salmon was the rule rather than the exception. To preserve the freshly caught salmon, many anglers would immediately can the fish to go out the next day and limit again.

Slowly, the huge numbers of fish dwindled. Because of fewer and fewer fish returning to the river system, fewer and fewer anglers went to the Klamath River.

And then the whole West Coast salmon fishery collapsed. For two years, there was no salmon fishing season at all, commercial or sport.

This year, the salmon fishery completely reopened for all the major ports, from Monterey north to the Oregon border. While salmon were caught, the jury is still out on just how successful the fishery was.

The salmon that didn’t find themselves impaled on an angler’s hook and are hitting the 3- to 4-year-old bracket are coming up their native rivers to spawn and die. Just about any river that has salmon still faces pretty heavy angler pressure.

While there are no restrictions on salmon fishing on local rivers, such as the Sacramento, American and Feather, an imposed limit of 3,950 adult salmon was allowed on the Klamath. Once that number was reached or expected to be reached, a new size limit automatically would be triggered.

Today, anglers may no longer keep an adult fall-run Chinook salmon that is 22 inches or more along the river’s lower 40 miles.

The Department of Fish and Game says it’s encouraged by the Klamath River’s salmon returns so far this year. Some anglers may be disappointed with the new restrictions, but the early reports of salmon returns means there are more fish in the river.

The allotment of 3,950 is half the number of adult fish allotted to recreational anglers. The other half is available to recreational anglers above the Highway 96 Bridge to Weitchpec and on the Trinity River.

Current fishing

Salmon: The upper Sacramento River in the Red Bluff area has been outstanding. Two-fish limits have been common. Most are still back trolling lures such as a Kwikfish, but those soaking a big gob of roe are also getting bit well. There are several jacks — small salmon — in the mix, and then there’s the super lunker more than 40 pounds that wants to snap your rod.

Rod-bending action on and near the mouth of the American River has been spotty. There’s a flurry of action when a run moves through, then it goes dead and it’s a big waiting game again.

The Feather River, especially around Shanghai Bend and in the Gridley area, has increased, mainly because of increased flows.

The whole salmon fishery should improve with the storms that came through mid-week. Rains that cause cooler weather and cools the water usually has a profound effect on the fishery.

Lake Pardee: If you want to hit this close-by lake, you have just about a month. Owned and operated by the East Bay Municipal District, the lake is closed to all access each year, and that includes fishing. This year, the closure is slated for the end of the day Sunday, Nov. 6. The lake is heavily planted with trout — weekly private plantings and those made by the DFG — but down to the last 30 days of operations, all plants have ended for this season.

Most of the current fishing success is coming from boaters working the eastern side of the lake from the Sugar Bowl through the Narrows and a bit beyond Mel’s Cove. Others have been trolling the mouth of the river and up to Twin Coves. Drop anchor way up the river, around Columbia, and dunk eggs, crawlers or Power Bait.

Lake Camanche: Big trout derby on Saturday, Oct. 15. Derby fishing hours will be from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. One trout will have a $25,000 tag. Another nine trout will be tagged worth other prizes. There will be cash prizes for the biggest stringers for first, second and third place.

The derby might be considered a tad pricey at $30, but your entry fee will qualify you for the prizes, a BBQ lunch and a raffle ticket. For information, contact the North Shore at (209) 763-5166.

Currently, the top fishing action is along the buoy line at the dam for those trolling with downriggers set at the 40-foot level. Hauling a grub works well.

Lake Davis: Lake level is still excellent, and the trolling action has been rated good. With the cooling weather, you only need to get down maybe nine feet with just about any flashy little lure. Lots of 16-inch trout willing to hammer your lure with some of the bigger fish hitting 19. Nearby Frenchman Lake also has good rod-bending action, but you’ll need to get down as much as 25 feet in the channel. Again, the best action is for trollers working the region around Turkey Point. Keep at it and you can limit.

Ice House Reservoir: It’s an extremely popular lake for anglers. While the lake was heavily planted all summer, the catching has been totally slow. The storms this week, however, should turn around things. The lake has been dropping and is now under 70 percent of capacity. The bite is happening all over Loon Lake — at the upper end of the Crystal Basin lakes — and with the storms, it will get better. Get an early start and you can pick up a limit in under an hour. Small flashers in front of a two-inch grub or crawler should get you bit quickly.

Contact George deVilbiss at