Chetco salmon seasons expected to be similar to last year
BROOKINGS, Ore. - The opening of the Checto River's much anticipated fall drift boat salmon season will be similar to last year, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist responsible for the Southern Oregon coast said.
Following the season structure of the past several years, the Chetco will likely open above tidewater the first Saturday of November. This year's opener is expected to fall on Nov. 2.
The popular "bubble season" at the mouth of the Chetco, where anglers can fish the estuary as well as the ocean just off of the mouth of the river, is expected to run Oct. 1-13.
Todd Confer, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's district biologist in Gold Beach, said he is looking at season timelines that will mirror last season. His final recommendations to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will be made later this spring.
Last year anglers enjoyed one of the better bubble seasons in recent memory. Action was consistent for most of the season, with several fish topping 40 pounds caught.
"The weather last year was remarkable and we were able to fish on the ocean every day of the two-week bubble season," said guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing, one of the few river guides also licensed to bring customers onto the ocean. "We had flat conditions and caught multiple fish every day."
The fishing along the jetties, meanwhile, was the best it had been in more than 10 years.
"We caught a lot of fish just inside of the mouth of the river," Martin said. "They really stacked up last fall in the lower section of the river."
Anglers caught large numbers of hatchery jacks last fall, fish likely returning to the Ferry Creek project on the lower river. ODFW released several thousand chinook salmon smolts in the tidewater, and instead of running upriver, the returning adults held in the estuary last fall, fueling the fishery at the mouth of the Chetco.
"Since we had a lot of jacks last year, we should see a really strong run of adults this year," Martin predicted.
The Chetco is Oregon's top river for salmon over 50 pounds. Kings as big as 65 pounds have been caught in recent years.
Biologists say the Chetco typically has a strong run when the Klamath and Sacramento rivers have strong runs. This year officials are predicting huge runs on the Klamath, Sacramento and Rogue rivers.