Oregon ocean salmon fisheries affected by California's low forecasted returns

by OR Department of Fish & Wildlife Staff

NEWPORT, Ore – With severely low forecasted returns of California chinook salmon (Sacramento and Klamath River), both California and Oregon ocean chinook commercial and recreational fisheries are impacted. Coho are a bright spot again for Oregon, and the state is expecting another good run and fishing seasons like last year.

Last week, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) cancelled the spring 2023 commercial ocean troll salmon fishery (Cape Falcon to the California border) and the spring recreational ocean salmon fishery (March 15-May 15 from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain). This decision was made in consultation with the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), and the states of Oregon and California.

ODFW's ocean salmon project leader Eric Schindler says with California salmon forecasts so low, impacts to those critical chinook stocks need to be kept low.

"Chinook headed for California are caught along with local chinook and coho in Oregon's ocean fisheries south of Cape Falcon. So, any fishery where these chinook are likely to be caught must be restricted – that's why Oregon and California agreed with NMFS and cancelled all early ocean salmon seasons south of Cape Falcon at least through May 15," Schindler said.

The PFMC currently is developing summer salmon seasons to be decided by April 7. Those decisions will be sent to the U.S. Department of Commerce for final approval by May 15.

PFMC is considering several alternatives for summer and fall salmon seasons. Generally, these would allow coho fishing from mid-June through September but restrict chinook fishing south of Cape Falcon until at least Sept. 1. By then, the majority of chinook headed to California are no longer offshore of Oregon's coast. In September, there is still potential to harvest Oregon chinook salmon.

A different mix of salmon stocks are offshore north of Cape Falcon, so season alternatives are different. Options being considered would allow recreational chinook and coho retention in the ocean beginning mid-June through September.

PFMC's alternatives are available online and more information is in the PFMC's news release. The PFMC is looking for feedback from anglers and commercial fishermen which have their own season. Going through the PFMC e-portal is the best way to comment; use the link for Salmon Agenda Item E.2 (tentative adoption of the 2023 management measures for analysis) scheduled for the Council floor on Sunday, April 2.

PFMC is hosting an in-person public meeting March 20, 7-9 p.m. in North Bend. ODFW staff will attend and be available to answer questions.

More Reports

OR Department of Fish & Wildlife Reports
for Thursday, March 9th, 2023

Action Notice: Ocean Recreational Salmon
ODFW Recreation Report

OR Department of Fish & Wildlife Reports
for Wednesday, March 8th, 2023
Prinevile Reservoir: Prineville Reservoir is slowly filling
Alsea River: The later returning wild broodstock hatchery fish are being caught in the NF Alsea
Kilchis River: If the rains come in as predicted it should be in pretty good shape early to middle of next week
Miami River: Miami remains low and clear but should get a nice bump early next week
Necanicum River: Will be in pretty good shape early to middle of next week
Nehalem River: Nehalem River Fishing Report
Nehalem River- North Fork: Upcoming rains should have it fishable through the weekend
Nestucca River: Fishing has been moderate but consistent on the Nestucca
Salmon River: The river is low and clear and fishing pressure has been consistent
Siletz River: We are seeing newer fish push into the system
Siuslaw River: The colder temps have made the Siuslaw challenging but conditions have remained fair
Trask River Fishing Report
Wilson River: The Wilson has been low and clear but there are still fish being caught consistently
Applegate Reservoir: The elevation of the reservoir is close to the 1,906-foot mark and the surface temperature is 40oF
Applegate River: The Applegate River is open to trout and steelhead fishing through March 31
Ben Irving Reservoir: Trout fishing has been slow over the past couple of weeks
Chetco River: Anglers will want to keep an eye on flows
Cooper Creek Reservoir: Trout fishing may be good on warmer days
Elk River: Good time of year to run plugs as steelhead are getting pretty aggressive
Emigrant Reservoir: Emigrant is 23 percent full
Garrison Lake: ODFW conducted some sample netting last week
Howard Prairie Reservoir: Howard Prairie is at 18 percent full
Illinois River: River conditions are forecast to spike significantly over the weekend and early next week
Rogue River - Middle: Current flow is around 1,750 cfs
Rogue River- Upper: The release from Lost Creek Reservoir is in the 1,050 cfs vicinity
Umpqua River: No reports of spring Chinook being caught
North Umpqua River: Steelhead have been moving through Winchester Dam
South Umpqua River : Steelhead fishing has picked up over the last week
Winchuck River: Anglers will want to pay attention to flows as rains this week
Ana Reservoir: The reservoir has been lowered 6 feet to decrease erosion along the bank
Ana River: Anglers have been doing quite well on the river recently
Phillips Reservoir: Throughout the winter, Phillips Reservoir froze over
Pilcher Reservoir: Pilcher Reservoir Fishing Report
Thief Valley Reservoir: Thief Valley Reservoir emptied last year. It is likely that few fish remain in the reservoir
Wolf Creek Reservoir: This winter anglers have had good catches of 10 to 12-inch rainbows