By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer,pandgt;

Klamath businesses mostly are hoping for a financial windfall from an increase in the salmon sport fishing quota this season.

Californias Department of Fish and Game increased the possession limit of chinook along the Klamath River from 4,200 to 29,800 fish this spring.

Individuals can keep up to three adult and one juvenile salmon per day, or six fish in a seven-day period.

Last year, only one adult and one juvenile could be kept per day, or four total in seven days.

Its going to be an awesome season, said Don Devol of Panther Creek RV Park in Klamath. I think this is going to be the best season weve seen in 20 years.

Devol said his park has been busy for this time of year and the catches have been good, reporting his customers brought in a 31.5-pounder and a 26-pounder on Monday.

Chub Morris, of the Klamath Chamber of Commerce, generally agreed with Devol that tourism is on the rebound.

I think its going to help us quite a bit, Morris said. We already have a lot of spring fish in the river. Its been much better for shore casting, which there wasnt much of last year.

The one area Morris expressed concern for was the river water levels, especially the upper river near Klamath Glen.

Thats the only problem we may encounter, said Morris. The level there is so low, and the water is warm and mossy, that people cant really fish up there. I dont think Ive ever seen the level so low before. But fishing is good at the mouth (of the river).

Del Norte County Supervisor Chuck Blackburn, who returned from last weeks conference on the fate of water diversion in the Klamath River basin, said agricultural water diverted for tributaries may reach the county as early as this week.

But low water levels arent the only concern for Klamath merchants, as road maintenance in the county continues into summer months.

Summer has just started and were getting major, major complaints from tourists coming through because of the road work all over the place, said Lee Keevil, co-owner of the Klamath Trading Post on Highway 101. And these are the ones that bother to stop. I can tell a lot of them just keep going.

Paul Hamby, of the Klamath Inn, said he is unsure how the increased quota will affect the region, but hopes it wont get too busy.

Most of our customers arent here to fish, Hamby said. They come to see the state park and enjoy the scenery. Once the fishing season opens, its something of a detriment for us. It gets kind of noisy around here. But Im happy for the local businesses if they do well.

According to Morris, Klamath has around 15 RV parks, six restaurants, six motels, two gas stations, two grocery stores and two mini marts.

Morris said the parks provide an average of 100 sport fishing sites each, which are normally fairly full in the summer months, and that fishermen spend an average of $100 per day on food, lodging and gasoline.

So using this calculation, Klamath can expect at least $150,000 per day during a strong season.

Im sure the new (possession) limits are going to help us a lot, Morris said. Well, Im staying optimistic anyway.