Salmon

Following a recent die-off of fall Chinook salmon in the Wilson River, excessive pre-spawn mortality of fall Chinook in other nearby rivers has prompted fishery managers to close the entire North Coast to all salmon angling, effective Dec. 13-31.

According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), the closure includes all North Coast basins from the Nestucca River to the Necanicum River. Angling for steelhead is unaffected by this change and remains open under permanent regulations.

Monitoring of North Coast basins, in response to the recent die-off observed in the Wilson River and by reports from the public of similar mortality events in other rivers, revealed substantial deaths of fall Chinook salmon (more than half of the carcasses sampled in the Nestucca, Trask and Kilchis rivers this week) prior to spawning.

Additional pre-spawn mortalities have been observed in the Wilson River since last week’s closure as well. The mortality is attributed to the spread of cryptobia, a naturally occurring parasite which only affects certain fish species and poses no risk to humans.

The closure is necessary to protect remaining fall Chinook adults to allow them to reach spawning grounds, according to Robert Bradley, district fish biologist for ODFW’s North Coast Watershed District. “The observed pre-spawn mortality is on top of a reduced run of fall Chinook this year,” Bradley said. “We need to protect the remaining spawners to help provide for future runs of fall Chinook on the North Coast.”

Angling for all salmon is closed for the remainder of 2019 in the following areas: Necanicum River basin, Nehalem Bay and River, including the NF Nehalem, Tillamook Bay and rivers (Tillamook River, Trask River, Wilson River, Kilchis River and Miami River), and Nestucca Bay and River, including Three Rivers and the Little Nestucca River.

The pre-spawn mortality event appears to be limited to the North Coast. Assessments of other basins further south have not revealed any incidents of this kind. Due to this, no angling regulation changes are being made in other locations.

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