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Chetco 'bubble' season to be split in two

BROOKINGS — A popular recreation season targeting chinook salmon bound for the Chetco River will be halved and split over two October weekends.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission last week reduced the targeted commercial and recreational catch of Chetco-bound chinook amid concerns of low salmon returns there this year.

The recreational season will be Oct. 1-3 and Oct. 8-9 and was passed at the urging of Commissioner Bob Webber so more anglers can fish the weekend dates.

The commission chose the two-weekend season over a separate one of Oct. 4-8 for the so-called "bubble fishery." It is referred to as a bubble fishery because the open area is shaped like a bubble around the river mouth so anglers target adults heading up that river to spawn that year.

The recreational bubble fishery off Brookings historically runs the first 11 days of October and is designed to have an angler catch of 600 adult chinook. A parallel commercial season in recent years operated with a 600-chinook quota.

This year's proposal calls for the sport and commercial fisheries to each get 300 chinook. Though the October recreational fishery does not operate with a quota, the five days should yield that size of catch, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Forecasts predict a return of 2,650 chinook, according to ODFW. Last year, an estimated 4,900 chinook spawned in the Chetco.

Similar bubble fisheries off the mouths of the Elk and Sixes rivers for recreational anglers will remain unchanged. The recreational season is proposed to run Nov. 1-30, with a two-chinook daily limit, but only one can be wild.

Family fishing event Saturday in Grants Pass

Grants Pass' Reinhart Park will be stocked with 100 larger trout this week for a special family-oriented fishing event scheduled for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The freshly stocked trout all run between 12 and 14 inches long.

Rods, reels, tackle and bait will be provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Volunteers from the Crater Bass Club will be joined by ODFW staff to help bait and cast rods and even clean fish, ODFW spokeswoman Meghan Dugan says.

Like elsewhere in trout ponds and lakes, kids 11 and younger can fish for free, while those 12 to 17 and adults need an Oregon angling license to fish. A new Youth License for kids 12 and older costs $10 and is good for hunting, fishing and shellfishing.

Licenses will not be for sale at the event.

To get to Reinhart Pond, take Interstate 5 to Exit 55, then take the Grants Pass Parkway for two miles and turn right onto SW M Street, which turns into SW Bridge Street. Go left on Lincoln Road and then left at Webster Road to enter the park.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.