Weather is finally backing off

We are finally seeing a break in the weather for the Trinity Valley. That is good news, because of all the flooding along the North Coast as the Eel, Van Duzan and Mad rivers saw flooding while the Trinity and Klamath came close to it. The river in front of my house was at least 10 feet over the top of the bar, while at normal flows it is 8 to 10 feet below the top of the bar. That is a lot of water!

It has been awhile since the river has reached that level along this stretch of the Trinity. The good part is that the river will get a good scouring and hopefully provide some good spawning grounds for the salmon as they will need it. Another good thing is that many mouths of the cold-water streams will open up for coho salmon and native steelhead to go up and spawn. For several years these cold-water streams have not been easily available for spawning. This is one thing that the Trinity River Restoration Program has not put on their list to restore for spawning for the Trinity River as they were too busy trying to change the river channel for chinook salmon spawning. The cold-water streams are where coho salmon and steelhead spawn, not in the main channel of the river like chinook salmon.

This week (March 6-12) is when the PFMC will meet in Vancouver, Wash., to start the process and provide options of fall Chinook salmon harvesting for the Pacific Coast. This will be a meeting to determine just how many chinook salmon will be available for harvest for tribal share (50 percent), Ocean Commercial, Ocean Sport and In-River Sport fishing. It has already been determined that the Trinity and possibly some of the Klamath, as well as the Sacramento rivers have been overfished. What this means is that the rivers in question did not meet their expected natural escapement goals for the past three years and now the CDFW has to come up with a recovery plan to meet the next three years of escapement for fall run chinook salmon.

Also, NOAA/NMFS has to approve a recovery plan for spring run chinook salmon if they are listed. The strange thing is that NOAA was presented with a Draft Recovery Plan for coho salmon in January of 2012 that could possibly fit a recovery plan for spring salmon. I ask, “Whatever became of that plan and could it be used for spring run chinook salmon in the event of them being listed?” CDFW suggested 274,222 Klamath River fall run chinook are swimming around in the ocean, a fair amount but not a large amount for harvest and natural spawning escapement combined. The Sacramento will need 151,000 natural spawners for this year as compared to a normal year of 122,000 natural spawners.

Salmon hearings: Fishermen and the public are going to have to write lots of letters to the Fish and Game Commission as well as the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, requesting public hearings in locations for spring run salmon fishing. Suggested locations are Long Beach, Monterey, San Francisco, Sacramento, Redding and Eureka. With the possible listing of spring run chinook all of the public affected by the listing should have a location close to them and where the regulations will affect the salmon fishing, not at the other end of the state where it is difficult for us to attend.

Things we should know; is this for all fishing including commercial fishery, sportsmen as well as tribal fishery? Regulations in effect; the Klamath River is closed to the “take” of spring run chinook salmon from the mouth of the river to Iron Gate from Feb. 21 to Aug. 14 (subject to the approval of the Office of Administrative Law); the Trinity River mainstem from the mouth to the Bridge at Highway 299 at Cedar Flat, Feb. 21 through Aug. 31; from Feb.22 to Oct. 15 no salmon shall be taken from the Old Lewiston Bridge to the Bridge at Highway 299, Cedar Flat.

Trinity River Hatchery: Season totals for chinook salmon is 7,706; for coho salmon 745; for steelhead 1,636.

Fishing: With the rains and flooding we are having right now it is pretty hard for any fishing except for those rivers that clear fast, like the Smith. One could possibly fish in between storms if you are alert to the weather.

Mid-Klamath: Iron Gate Dam is releasing 1,878 cfs at this time and increasing as the storms brings in more water. This could make fishing above I-5 very difficult or no fishing at all. Siead Valley is flowing at 5,098 cfs and increasing. The Klamath is basically blown out.

Lake Conditions: Whiskeytown is 100 percent of capacity (an increase of 13 percent) with inflows 2,397 cfs and releasing 3,840 cfs on to Keswick; Shasta is 87 percent of capacity (an increase of 10 percent) with inflows of 27,245 cfs and releasing 24,053 cfs into the Sacramento River; Lake Oroville is 64 percent of capacity (an increase of 11 percent, plus 28 feet) with inflows of 22,243 cfs with releases of 5,795 cfs into the Feather River; Folsom Lake is 60 percent of capacity (a decrease of 2 percent, minus 2 feet) with inflows of 12,415 cfs with releases of 12,989 cfs.

Trinity Lake: The lake is 47 feet below the overflow (a decrease of 6 feet) and 72 percent of capacity (an increase of 3 percent), inflows are 3,815 cfs and 155 cfs is being released into Lewiston Lake with 1,590 cfs being diverted to Whiskeytown Lake and on to Keswick Power Plant, which is releasing 28,819 cfs into the Sacramento River.

Trinity River flows and conditions: Lewiston Dam releases are 300 cfs as of 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Mar. 3. Limekiln Gulch is 5.4ft at 798 cfs and water temperature of 45.2 degrees; Douglas City is 7.85ft and 1,592 cfs with water at 46.2; Junction City is N/A; Helena is 13.51ft at 3,247 cfs with water temp of 46.8 degrees; Cedar Flat (Burnt Ranch) is 8.76ft at 4,734 cfs; South Fork of the Trinity is 10,56ft at 6,894 cfs; Willow Creek is estimated at 11,628 cfs and water at 47 degrees; Hoopa is 21.78ft at 19,773 cfs and is 47 degrees. Water flows at the mouth of the Trinity River at the Klamath are estimated to be 32,996 cfs.

Klamath River flows and conditions: Iron Gate is releasing 1,878 cfs and decreasing by the hour; Seiad Valley is 5.77ft at 5,098 cfs; Happy Camp is estimated at 5,563 cfs; Somes Bar is estimated to be 9,595 cfs; Orleans is 9.26ft at 13,223 cfs; the Klamath River at Terwer Creek is 18.48ft at 46,877 cfs and water temp of 47.6 degrees. Flows for the Smith River at Jedia Smith is 10.22ft and flows of 6,356 cfs, and flows at Dr. Fine Bridge are 16.54ft. The Salmon River is 5.25ft at 3,625 cfs.

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