Adam Spencer, The Triplicate

Complete closure is one possibility for mouth of the river

Last summer when the mouth of the Klamath River funneled into the Pacific in a southerly fashion for the first time in more than 10 years, a salmon fishing bonanza was unleashed with almost 12,000 fish harvested below the Highway 101 bridge alone, sometimes more than 400 fish per day.

Now state regulators are considering limiting the amount of fishing allowed on the spit of the Klamath River, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will hold an informational meeting on the possible new fishing rules from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Del Norte County supervisor chambers, 981 H St., Crescent City.

The possible regulations for the 2014 lower Klamath River sport season range from the status quo to complete closure of the Klamath spit (mouth of the river).

When Fish and Wildlife officials considered closing the Klamath spit to salmon harvest in 2000, local businesses in the town of Klamath that rely on tourism generated by the sport salmon season cried foul, saying the closure would devastate the area economically.

Back then, former Del Norte County Supervisor Chuck Blackburn, who was also a Klamath River fishing guide for many years, advocated for the spit to remain open.

Blackburn and the interests of Klamath fishermen and businesses prevailed, leaving the spit open in exchange for stricter limits on harvest and gear restrictions intended to eliminate snagging (foul-hooking) of fish.

At least 35 anglers attended a meeting on the 2014 Klamath spit regulations held in Eureka last month. Department officials gave presentations on the historical fishery trends of the lower Klamath, the 2013 harvest and escapement, and held a question and answer discussion where anglers voiced concerns about the ethics and methods of the lower Klamath's 2013 sport season, according to the Times-Standard.

Some people who fish from the Klamath spit are suspected of using a long leader to snag fish, hooking the salmon in an illegal method. Fish and Wildlife officials have spoken about the difficulty of enforcing regulations against snagging, which could be the reason a full closure is being considered.

The public is encouraged to provide input on potential fishing season options to the Fish and Wildlife Commission, which is scheduled to decide on the options during its April 16 meeting.

To provide comment,; fax (916) 653-5040; mail Fish and Game Commission, 1416 Ninth St. Room 1320, Sacramento, CA 95814 or speak in person at the next Fish and Game Commission meeting.

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