Sacramento River ocean salmon abundance estimate is on the rise

SACRAMENTO — The Pacific Fishery Management Council will choose three alternatives for the recreational and commercial salmon fishing seasons at its March 8-14 meeting, based on ocean abundance forecasts, stakeholder feedback and feedback. other factors discussed at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s annual salmon information meeting. held virtually on March 2.

The ocean abundance projection for 2022 for the Sacramento River Fall Chinook, the engine of salmon fishing on the West Coast, is estimated at 396,500 adult salmon, compared to the revised forecast of 2022 of 322,137 fish, reported Jeromy Jording of the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The abundance estimate of ocean-swimming Sacramento Fall Chinooks is now based largely on the return of two-year-old “trevallies” to hatcheries and natural spawning grounds last fall. More than 17,000 trevallies returned to the river last year, compared to 14,000 the previous year.

However, according to CDFW scientists, only about 104,483 adult hatchery and natural area spawners actually returned to the Sacramento River basin in 2021, well below the conservation goal of 122,000 to 180,000 fish. .

The Klamath River Fall Chinook ocean abundance forecast is slightly higher than the 2021 forecast, with 200,100 adult Klamath River Fall Chinook salmon estimated to be in the ocean this year. Unfortunately, this abundance estimate is well below historical stock levels.

CDFW’s Harry Morse said the PFMC may “decide to take a cautious approach when developing the 2022 ocean salmon seasons to provide additional safeguards to this stock”.

After presentations by biologists, recreational fishers, fishing guides, charter boat captains, commercial salmon fishers and CDFW staff commented and expressed their concerns to a panel of fisheries managers, scientists, tribal and industry representatives.

Commercial salmon fishermen, who harvested 200,419 Chinooks last year off the California coast, said salmon were plentiful in the areas they fished.

In contrast, recreational anglers and river fishing guides said relatively few salmon returned to the Sacramento River and its tributaries and the fishing was abysmal. The estimated total harvest for recreational anglers was 14,560 salmon, or only 2.7 salmon per 100 hours of fishing.

Robert Dunn, a Sacramento River fishing guide for 37 years, said he believes “there is an overfishing of fall fish in the ocean.”

“I couldn’t find a spawning ground (nest) from the Deschutes Bridge to Red Bluff for 80 trips from October 2021 to February 2022,” he said. “We need to increase the run to 360,000 fall fish. 2021 has been the worst salmon season ever for us.

John McManus, president of the Golden Gate Salmon Association, said low salmon numbers in the Klamath River “will likely cause stresses on commercial and sport fishing at sea this year, particularly in coastal waters around the state of North”.

“We’re hoping for a decent salmon fishing season this year, and there’s reason to be optimistic, but there are still several variables to deal with,” McManus said.

He said more fish did indeed return but died of heat-related causes, including pre-spawning disease due to hot, low water conditions linked to drought and water management decisions made. by the Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources on Central Valley rivers.

In the coming weeks, PFMC officials will use ocean abundance forecasts and other data to set the times and areas open to sport and commercial ocean salmon fishing for 2022. The California Fish and Game Commission will then approve the recreational ocean season, as well as a sport season for the Sacramento, American, Feather and Mokelumne rivers, and the Klamath and Trinity rivers.

Information: www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Salmon/preseason

West delta sturgeon: Zack Medinas of Gatecrasher Fishing Adventures reported “very good” sturgeon fishing on a March 5 trip. Six fishermen, all active or retired soldiers, caught and released seven sturgeons within the legal size limit. They used lamprey eel and salmon eggs at Seal Island and in the deep waters off Pittsburgh. Information: (925) 497-7171.

Monterey Petrale sole/sand dabs: Until rockfish season opens on April 1, Chris’ Fishing Trips boats in Monterey will embark on sole/sanddab and sanddab/crab fishing adventures. The 13 anglers aboard the Checkmate returned with 60 petral sole and “lots of sand dabs” on March 3, while the 20 anglers on the Caroline checked in with “lots of sand dabs” and 28 crabs on March 6. Information: (831) 375-5951.

Contact Stockton Record correspondent Dan Bacher at [email protected]

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