OFF THE HOOK: Salmon surge into Feather River, Nimbus hatcheries
Salmon spawning at the Feather River Fish Hatchery in Oroville is in full swing and hatchery staff are seeing numbers of adult fall Chinooks twice of those received to date last season.
"We have trapped 32,202 adults to date, compared to 16,000 adults by the same time last year," said A.J. Dill, assistant hatchery manager.
The jack (2-year-old salmon) numbers, though, are behind last year's returns.
"We have seen 7,972 jacks to date, compared to 17,000 last season," Dill noted.
Spring run adult Chinook counts were also ahead of those trapped last year, with 3,500 adults counted this season, compared to 1,800 last year. The spring run jack count is 1,138, compared to 7,972 last year.
On Nov. 5, the salmon ladder at Nimbus Hatchery in Rancho Cordova opened, beginning the spawning season on the American River.
Department of Fish and Game hatchery workers opened the gates from the river at 10:30 a.m. They will take more than a half-million eggs during the first week alone in an effort to ensure the successful spawning of the returning fall-run Chinook salmon.
"We have trapped 1,000 fish so far, about the same as the last year," said Gary Novak, hatchery manager. "We spawned 190 females on Tuesday and another 75 on Thursday. It seems like most of the fish in the river are right behind the ladder. Maybe the rain will bring some additional fish up."
Salmon fishing has been very slow in the lower section of the American still open to salmon fishing. The fishing this season has been much tougher than it was last year, when limits were common in September and October, leading veteran anglers to question the forecast of a "banner" fall king run by federal scientists.
The three major state-run hatcheries in the Central Valley, including the Nimbus and Feather facilities and the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery in San Joaquin County, will take approximately 38 million eggs over the next two months in order to produce an estimated 24 million Chinook salmon for release next spring.
Around the state, there are eight state-run salmon and steelhead hatcheries, all of which will participate in the salmon spawning effort. Those hatcheries, along with federally run hatcheries, will be responsible for the release of 40 million juvenile salmon into California waters.
"Once the young salmon reach 2 to 4 inches in length, one-quarter of the stock will be marked and implanted with a coded wire tag prior to release. DFG biologists use the information from the tags to chart their survival, catch and return rate," according to the DFG.
Each hatchery has a viewing area where visitors can watch the spawning process. At Nimbus and Feather River hatcheries, thousands of schoolchildren tour the facilities each year. For more information about spawning schedules and educational opportunities at each hatchery.
For more hatchery information, visit the DFG website at dfg.ca.gov/fish/Hatcheries/HatList.asp.
GGSA announces Central Valley Salmon Rebuilding Plan
The Golden Gate Salmon Association has collaborated with leading agency experts, including NMFS, DFG, and
USFWS, to produce a comprehensive Central Valley Salmon Rebuilding Plan.
The plan will improve each stage of the salmon life cycle including spawning success, incubation survival, rearing and out migration by providing flow, temperature and physical habitat improvements. The drafting of the plan occurs in the wake of salmon declines in recent decades spurred by water diversions, Central Valley dam operations and massive water exports out of the Delta.
The organization has drafted two dozen projects that will significantly rebuild and preserve California salmon and benefit not only the species, but also commercial and recreational fishermen, coastal communities that rely on the industry, and consumers who enjoy this nutritious food source.
It will also provide benefits for all four salmon runs, including both wild stocks as well as hatchery fish. The recently updated draft plan is currently under review by the agencies and stakeholder groups. It does not call for eradication of predator species.
"GGSA is optimistic that, when implemented, this plan will bring salmon populations back to sustainable levels at early dates and preserve both the species and the industry that depends on it," stated Victor Gonella, president of Golden Gate Salmon Association.
Golden Gate Salmon Association is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fisherman, businesses, restaurants, tribes, environmentalists, elected officials, families and communities that rely on salmon. Their mission is to protect and restore California's largest salmon producing habitat, comprised of the Central Valley rivers that feed the Bay-Delta ecosystem and the communities that rely on salmon as a long-term, sustainable, commercial, recreational and cultural resource.
Currently, California's salmon industry is valued at $1.4 billion in economic activity annually and about half that much in economic activity and jobs again in Oregon.
For more information, check out the GGSA's new salmon video at tinyurl.com/aqd4kgk or visit goldengatesalmonassociation.com.