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Coastal rivers open for wild coho harvest

Wild coho fishing on coastal rivers begins Sept. 15

SALEM, Ore. – Wild coho seasons on many coastal rivers and bays will open beginning Sept. 15, marking the fifth year in a row coastal rivers will open to the harvest of wild fish. This year 13 river systems on Oregon’s coast will be open for wild coho harvest, and for the first time in recent years many will open without quotas and in-season management.

Fishery managers are predicting there will be 191,000 adult wild coho in the ocean this summer, most of which will return to Oregon’s coastal rivers and streams. While that number is down a bit compared to some recent years, it is up substantially from the 1990s when returns averaged just 48,800 fish a year and coho fishing in most areas was closed or severely restricted.

This year the following river systems will be open for the harvest of wild coho: Nehalem, Tillamook, Nestucca, Siletz, Yaquina, Alsea, Siuslaw, Umpqua, Coos and Coquille rivers, Tenmile lakes and Beaver and Floras creeks. Most seasons begin on Sept. 15 and continue through November, but there are exceptions.

The biggest change from last year’s seasons will be in the mid-coast and mid-south coast where several rivers will have fixed wild coho seasons instead of harvest quotas.

“Bag limits will remain conservative, in part because returns did not materialize as forecast last year,” said Mike Gray, ODFW fish biologist in Charleston. “We’re also trying to move away from the expensive and labor intensive creels and quotas to fixed season structures.” Quotas will remain on some rivers where harvest rates need to be closely tracked, he added.

For the North Coast, the fisheries are a bit more conservative than last year with a reduced seasonal bag limit on the Nehalem.

“Our wild coho populations tend to be a bit smaller than many of the other coastal basins, primarily due to differences in freshwater habitat,” said Chris Knutsen, ODFW fish biologist in Tillamook. Even with slightly smaller returns, Knutsen predicts good coho fishing along the North Coast.

River-specific seasons, quotas, bag limits and closed areas can be found on the ODFW website.

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