Photo by: Val Atkinson

Klamath River recreational fishermen as well as folks interested in seasonal salmon runs will be excited to hear that the 2021 Fall-run salmon season has begun. The season runs from August 15th until December 31st. The Klamath and Trinity Rivers fall-run quota has been set at 1,221 adult salmon of which 208 adults can be caught from the stretch of river starting at the Highway 96 bridge and ending at the Iron Gate Dam. The Spit Area at the mouth of the Klamath River and the stretch from the river’s mouth to the Highway 96 bridge at Weitchpec have been closed due to anglers having already caught the quota for those fisheries. More detailed fishing information is available via the California Fish and Wildlife website and the excellent Fishing the North Coast with Kenny Priest blog.

In addition to staying up to date on the status of fisheries, visiting and resident anglers should consider that portions of each of the above-mentioned river sections are adjacent to Tribal lands regulated by Tribal Nations. For example, the Yurok tribe regulates fisheries that run through reservation lands and generally prohibits non-Tribal Members from fishing within the Yurok Reservation. It is the responsibility of fishermen to know the ins and outs of the area they intend to fish – knowing whose land you’re on is a great place to start.

While the fall-run offers anglers opportunities to pursue some beautiful fish, the quotas available are stark reminders of how productive the Klamath River’s fisheries once were. There were times, before the construction of dams, when one could practically walk across the backs of salmon surging to their spawning grounds upriver. There are estimates of historic salmon runs that suggest that annual salmon counts on the Klamath were well over a million fish! One can imagine the economic, social, cultural, and recreational importance that such runs offered for Klamath River communities, and we now can dream of a future wherein salmon can once again run the length of the river unencumbered by impassable obstacles and toxic waters.

Removing dams on the Klamath River will help salmon populations recover after decades of being cut off from hundreds of river miles. In addition to making almost half the Klamath Basin accessible for the first time in over a century, dam removal will contribute to a resurgence in overall river health: water temperatures will drop, and related toxic algal blooms and parasitic disease outbreaks will decrease. Klamath River residents and visiting anglers alike will have better opportunities for catching salmon from healthy and productive fisheries whose growth is unimpeded by dams and the detrimental impacts their continued operation creates.