Big comeback for Calif. king salmon
Four years after a collapse in the salmon population shut down California’s salmon fisheries, the prized fish could be ready for a spectacular comeback.
As fishery managers on Thursday approved the longest commercial salmon fishing season in eight years, the industry was buzzing over staggering forecasts for the fall-run Chinook salmon populations from the Klamath and Sacramento rivers, the state’s top spawning grounds.
There are 1.65 million adult Chinook in the ocean this year from the Klamath River near the Oregon border, according to a preseason estimate from the Pacific Fishery Management Council, which oversees the salmon fisheries in Washington, Oregon and California. That’s nearly three times higher than any previous estimate since the forecasts were first produced in 1985. The number of Sacramento River salmon is estimated at 819,400, which would be the highest total since 2005, and even that number is conservative — if the council hadn't tweaked its forecasting method, the estimate would have been just north of 2 million.
“It’s about as big of a rebound as we could have hoped for, when you’re talking about record or near-record forecasts coming from unprecedented closures,” said Chuck Tracy, the council’s salmon staff officer. “It’s all the way from the bottom to the top in three years.”