The California Department of Fish and Wildlife held its annual Salmon Information Meeting today in Santa Rosa, California. Abundance forecasts announced at this meeting point to mostly positive news for the state’s salmon anglers in 2015. This important meeting was a key first step in establishing coastal salmon fishing seasons and regulations for this year, which are expected to be finalized and announced by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) and the California Fish and Game Commission in April. Pending these decisions, the 2015 recreational salmon season is on track to open in most of California on Saturday, April 4.
Coastside Fishing Club President and Science Director Dan Wolford is a voting member of the PFMC , and therefore plays an integral and continuing role in the development of regulations that should balance robust salmon fishing opportunities with healthy, sustainable salmon populations. Coastside Director Marc Gorelnik serves on the PFMC Salmon Advisory Subpanel, the body charged with developing season options for adoption.
“When it came to salmon projections for the state and anticipated ocean fishing opportunities during 2015, the mood at the meeting could be best described as cautiously optimistic,” said Wolford. “About 212,000 adult salmon returned to spawn in California’s Sacramento River and tributaries in 2014 — well above the 180,000 escapement objective previously set by fishery managers,” Wolford reported. Another positive note was the solid number of returning two-year old fish, commonly referred to as jacks. Included in the overall returns for 2014 were 25,359 jacks — about 25-percent more than returned in 2013. Since the majority of these sub-adult salmon tend to stay out in the ocean for another year before returning, this is another positive sign for ocean salmon numbers and solid fishing opportunities in 2015. At this time last year, scientists estimated an abundance of about 600,000 three-year old Sacramento River salmon; initial estimates for 2015 put the forecasted number of adults a bit higher than last year, at 650,000. Wolford went on to say that “the 2014 returns are a pleasant surprise and point to the success of the extraordinary efforts of the Department to truck juvenile hatchery fish around the deadly conditions encountered in the rivers and bay-delta system.” -more- CFC Report From Salmon Meeting/Page 2 Returning adult salmon numbers on the Klamath River were also stronger in 2014 than in the previous year — with the 95,330 natural adult spawners more than doubling the established minimum of 40,700 fish. An additional 31,000 adult salmon also returned to the Klamath Basin hatcheries.
“We face many challenges in California, not the least of which is our continuing drought. Still, the positive salmon return numbers from 2014 and the forecast for the coming season gives us reason to be hopeful,”
added Wolford. The PFMC will weigh these projections and take into account a wide range of considerations as it develops regulations that will ultimately decide when, where and how anglers can fish for salmon in the state.
Involvement with the PFMC is just one of many initiatives this volunteer-driven organization undertakes to benefit anglers and fish alike, including the construction, operation and maintenance of salmon acclimation pens located in Pillar Point Harbor. Over the past three years, Coastside volunteers have received, fed, vaccinated and released nearly one million juvenile salmon into area waters, each sporting a coded wire tag that allows fishery managers to track movements of these hatchery fish — as well as the program’s overall success — through the eventual capture of returning fish.
Fishermen who want to stay on top of developing news and regulations are encouraged to visit the Coastside Fishing Club website at www.CoastsideFishingClub.com. There, they can also learn about the organization’s many ongoing fisheries and conservation-oriented activities and its continuing efforts to ensure great fishing opportunities for future generations.