The wild coho salmon season on most Oregon’s coastal rivers opens on Sept. 15 and fishery managers are anticipating a big season.
Big because almost 300,000 wild coho are expected to return to coastal rivers and lakes, and that means anglers will be able to harvest even more fish than last year.
For the fourth year in a row, ODFW will open selected rivers and lakes to the harvest of wild coho. Locations that will open Sept. 15 include Nehalem, Tillamook Bay, Nestucca, Siletz, Yaquina, Siuslaw, Umpqua, Coos, and Coquille rivers. Other locations will open Oct. 1 including Tenmile Lakes and the Alsea Basin.
Coho fisheries in these systems are managed by season quotas and will be closed when the quotas are met, so anglers should check the status of the quotas before fishing. The exception is Tenmile Lakes, which will be managed under a fixed season that ends Dec. 31.
Wild coho fisheries in Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes are allowed without quotas under permanent rules as shown in the 2012 Sport Fishing Regulations.
The daily bag limit for wild coho is one fish on all of these water bodies, but seasonal limits, harvest quotas and angling deadlines vary by location. For a complete description of the 2012 wild coho seasons, as well as in-season updates on quotas, go to http://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/fishing/coastal_salmon_seasons.asp.
While harvest quotas remain conservative — coastal coho continue to be listed under the federal Endangered Species Act – the 2012 river-specific quotas are all larger than in 2011.
“On some rivers, like the Umpqua and Siuslaw, the quotas are almost double what they were a year ago,” said Mike Gray, ODFW fish biologist in Charleston. “If the actual return approaches expectations, and the fish cooperate, we’re going to have a great coho season on the coast.”
According to Gray, the large returns in recent years are about more than just a chance to fish for them.
“Of course we’re always excited to be able to offer additional fishing opportunity,“ he said. “But to see a fish species listed as threatened bounce back to where we can now allow some directed harvest is pretty significant.”
“Obviously the time and effort agencies, watershed councils, and private landowners have put into restoring watersheds and salmon habitat is paying big dividends for fish and for fishing communities,” Gray said.
Logo courtesy Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife