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Klamath River home to unique trout fishery
The trout are wild and angling is open all year sediment from dam removal possible threat

Klamath Falls Herald and News Outdoors commentary

February 20, 2008

   It takes a lot of work to maintain a trophy-class trout fishery and keep it open to angling all year, especially if it is a stream. 

   There aren't very many streams in Klamath County that are open to angling all year. Most of them are closed during the winter months and early spring, but not the Klamath River. 

   From Lake Ewauna downstream to the Keno Dam, the river is open all year with a one fish per day bag limit, and the use of bait is allowed. 

   Below the Keno Dam to the slack water at the John Boyle Dam, it is open until June 15, when it closes until Oct. 1. The bag limit is one fish per day and only artificial flies and lures are allowed. 

   From the downstream side of the bridge below John C. Boyle Dam, the river is open all year with a one trout per day bag limit until June 16 when it becomes a catch and release only stream until Sept. 30. 

   I believe the main reason for the catch and release limitation is that the fish are inedible during the warm summer months. Bait is also forbidden and only artificial flies and lures are allowed.

   There is a minimum length requirement of eight inches, but, it is rare to catch a trout that small.

No hatchery fish 

   One of the unique things about the Klamath River is that the fishery is maintained without restocking by hatchery fish. They are all wild and they are excellent fighters any time of the year. 

   The recent release of a water management plan for the Klamath River calls for removal of four dams on the river with the expectation of improved water quality and the return of salmon and steelhead to the river above the lower dams. 

   It sounds good at first, returning wild salmon to the river on the Oregon side, but will it really do that? 

   Danger not addressed 

   In all of the press and television reports, I have yet to see anyone address a hidden danger that will most likely destroy the river for decades, if not lifetimes. This hidden danger? The sediment and accumulated mud on the bottom of all of the reservoirs. 

   I talked recently with a couple of Pacific Power and Light experts and asked them: "What about the mud?"

   Mud is there 

   They said the mud was definitely there and, currently, there are no plans to address this problem if the dams are breached. 

   How bad is it? 

   According to them, there is currently 20 million cubic yards of sediment lying on the bottom of the four reservoirs. To put that into terms easier to grasp for commoners, that equates to two million dump truck loads of muck. 

   As we all know, water, and mud, flow downhill. 

   All that sediment will enter the river and smother any and all instream spawning beds. Not only will it move as the river carves a new channel, the mud trapped above the actual river bed will wash down with every new rain storm. 

   Talk about adding upstream water storage in Upper Klamath and Agency lakes by returning reclaimed farm land to wetlands is a good idea, of course. Remember that this storage will be shallow and all that saved water will be quite warm, not the cold water that trout and salmon need to survive. 

   Also, without the inhibition of the dams, the warmer water of lower quality will be detrimental to downstream fish populations of all kinds. 

   If the current plan is implemented as presented, the angling public stands to lose much more than the warm-water angling currently available in the reservoirs.



              Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM  Pacific

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