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Large salmon presence brings uninterrupted season

BROOKINGS — Recreational anglers will see their most liberal ocean salmon fishing opportunities in at least three years under newly adopted seasons meant to take advantage of a strong chinook salmon presence in the sea.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission on Friday adopted a federally approved set of recreational chinook and fin-clipped coho salmon seasons that will bring four months of uninterrupted salmon fishing off Southern Oregon and Northern California.

In recent years, low chinook numbers caused shut-downs for recreational angling through most of July and August — the two most productive months for Southern Oregon ocean anglers.

But a record estimate of maturing Klamath River fall chinook now in the ocean allowed the PFMC to stretch out a recreational season that council salmon advisor Chuck Tracy called "as much fishing time as possible."

Seasons for anglers launching from the ports of Brookings and Gold Beach fall under the so-called Klamath Management Zone, which runs from Humbug Mountain near Port Orford south to Horse Mountain near Manzanita in Northern California.

The Klamath Management Zone's chinook-only season begins May 5 and runs through Sept. 4, with a daily limit of up to two chinook 24 inches or longer.

Southern Oregon's recreational coho fishing is part of the Oregon coastal coho season. That opens June 23 and runs until Sept. 4 in the Oregon part of the Klamath Management Zone. However, coho fishing will close earlier if Oregon anglers catch the entire 50,000-coho quota before that date.

Only coho with a clipped adipose fin — the small, fleshy fin on the back near the tail — can be kept. All wild coho must be released unharmed.

Only two legal salmon can be kept a day, whether they are both coho, chinook or one of each.

Northern California again will not have a coho season.

The commission's adoptions mirror seasons approved by the federal Pacific Fishery Management Council earlier this month.

The commission has jurisdiction within three miles from shore, but the commission annually adopts the same seasons as outlined by the PFMC.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.