Salmon River Chinook Fishing A Different Beast This Fall

Fisherfolk throwing their lines into the Salmon River near Lincoln City will find that the chinook fishing is decidedly different this fall than in years past. A different approach from area hatcheries has lowered the chinook population—an obvious detriment in the short run that is paving the way for long term improvements in the health of the river’s ecosystem.

Hatchery Fish v. Wild Fish

This fall, hatchery chinook will be released in decreased numbers upstream of the Salmon River Hatchery, in an attempt to reduce interactions between hatchery fish and wild fish in chinook spawning grounds. Most chinook from the hatchery that return to Salmon River this season will be rerouted to bypass the hatchery.

“It’s been an ongoing challenge to reduce the level of hatchery fish on the spawning grounds,” said John Spangler, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s district fish biologist for the Newport area. “We expect [that] a significant number of hatchery fish will continue to bypass the hatchery and travel upriver. However, no longer passing fish that enter the hatchery is a good start to reducing their numbers.”

Substitute Fishing Opportunities

In an effort to reconcile the lost fishing opportunities caused by the lower fall chinook numbers, a number of bright hatchery chinook will be recycled to Knight Park, downstream. Fishery managers are using this tactic as a one-year fix to ease the transition to permanently reduced numbers of hatchery chinooks in the Salmon River. Spangler said the effectiveness of the fish recycling program will be evaluated in the offseason for possible future use.

"That's how we caught fall chinook back in MY day."

“That’s how we caught fall chinook back in MY day.”

Additionally, fishermen, fisherwomen, and fisherchildren angling on the Salmon River will be given the opportunity to “harvest” as many as three wild steelhead per year. This program beings January 1, 2015.

The fish population management programs being implemented on the Salmon River are part of the Coastal Multi-Species Conservation and Management Plan (somehow abbreviated to CMP), which was officially adopted in June 2014 by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission. The CMP is designed to balance the protection of wild fish populations with fishing opportunities, and will utilize a number of different approaches across different areas of the state and for different fish species.

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