The California Department of Fish and Wildlife met in Santa Rosa on February 26 to draw a conclusion for the 2014 ocean salmon season. National Marine Fisheries Service met with CDFW with abundance forecasts that look good for Sacramento River fall Chinooks. The majority of salmon caught in our coastal areas are the Sacramento River fall salmon and the abundance forecast for these fish is 634,650. This is less than last years estimate, but still well above the escapement model. The minimum escapement is 190,000 fall Chinooks, and with an estimate well above that number, regulations should be set accordingly.
The 2013 season saw 424,914 hatchery and wild returning Chinooks to the Sacramento River that were naturally spawning fish. This is a total from The Sacramento, Feather, and American Rivers. There is still a large concern for Sacramento River winter run Chinooks, however. Last years return documented 6,122 winter run Chinooks. This was the best return of winter run Chinooks since 2006.
The recreation season for salmon is set for April 5. The regulations will remain until the counsel meets in April for the final decision to decide the 2014 regulations for both sport and commercial fishing. As it stands, the season should start April 5 with a limit of two fish at 24 inches per person. The prior seasons regulations for hook and gear restrictions will apply.
There are reports of incidental catches of salmon caught by fishermen while fishing for sand dabs in Monetery Bay. The bay appears healthy with large schools of anchovies. The primary feed of salmon in saltwater may change from krill, as it had been the past four years, to anchovies this season.
We had become used to looking for schools of small shrimp in order to catch salmon, but this season these beautiful fish may be found chasing anchovy schools. I hope it is a good year for salmon for both fish and fishermen.
- Mike Baxter has fished in the Monterey Bay Area since he was a boy and has been a licensed charter boat captain for more than 20 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.