Let’s go fishin’: Fall salmon hit and miss for anglers
by Mike Baxter
Sep 19, 2013 | 1519 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Anne Ringer of Monterey caught this Chinook on a guided river trip with Tony Sepulveda. Courtesy photo
Anne Ringer of Monterey caught this Chinook on a guided river trip with Tony Sepulveda. Courtesy photo
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With large returns expected to California’s rivers, some anglers are waiting for the expected fish to show up. But the Klamath River is at the top of the list for no-show salmon while the Sacramento River has had a steady return of fall Chinooks.

With an expected 270,000 fall salmon returning to the Klamath River, some anglers are waiting to see these fish. The river is unusually warm despite the increased flow release from the Trinity River. The water temperature on the Klamath is 70 degrees — higher than normal — and the flows are very low at 2,800 cubic feet per second. The river mouth has also opened and closed due to large swells.

The Klamath River salmon seem to be moving into the estuary, hitting the warm water and flushing back to sea for the cooler temps. The fish are subject to anglers fishing at the mouth of the river using long leaders that floss the fish’s mouth, causing the hook to snag the fish in its jaws. This technique is legal and is taking hundreds of fish a day. If the salmon pass the hundreds of anglers at the mouth, they then have to pass the gauntlet of tribal gill nets. This is a series of nets that are concentrated in the lower river. There can be hundreds of nets set through the lower river.

The number of fish caught above the net area has been low so far, with only a few fish caught most days. Jet boats launch from Klamath Glen and motor their way upriver to catch fish the old-fashioned way with bait or lure. This has been tough, but most hope the fish will return as water temperatures lower and the mouth of the river re-opens.

Look for better fishing later this month. The will salmon spread through the entire Klamath River and Trinity River through the month of October.

The Sacramento River has had a stable return of fall Chinook salmon. The salmon continue to be caught outside the Golden Gate in the saltwater. As they enter the Bay they are caught from the Delta all the way upriver to Red Bluff. Some days guides report hot action and the next it may be a tough day. The score range from one to two fish per person and they are large 15 to 30 pound salmon. The Sacramento, Feather, Yuba and American Rivers will see salmon into late November.

Fishing for salmon in the river is fun and includes pretty scenery. My favorite way to catch salmon in the river is back trolling plugs. The strike is vicious and the battle is epic. These fish hit hard and fight strong in the river current. I hope anglers catch their allowed quota and many Salmon return safely this fall.

- Mike Baxter has fished in the Monterey Bay Area since he was a boy and has been a licensed charter boat captain for more than 20 years. Contact him at captmikebaxter@yahoo.com.

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