According to the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, Sacramento and Klamath River Fall Chinook Salmon numbers were pretty decent in 2014. Approximately 212,000 adult kings returned to spawn in the Sacramento River and its tributaries last fall. Additionally, 10,000 adult Chinook returned to the San Joaquin, Mokelumne, Consumnes and other Central Valley rivers.
The 2014 adult salmon return, or escapement, exceeds the minimum goal set by fishery managers of 122,000 to 180,000 fish. The sad thing is most of the progeny of in-river naturally spawning salmon are believed to have perished in the low, warm water.
As far as jack (2-year-old kings) counts go, the Sac system received a run of 25,359 fish. According to the Golden Gate Salmon Association, the 2014 jack count is about 25 percent higher than the 2013 jack count. Although the multiplier that’s applied changes slightly from year to year, a layman’s analysis suggests there could be about 25 percent more three year olds are in the ocean now than the 600,000 estimated at this time last year. This suggests there could be close to 800,000 adult salmon forecast for 2015.
Although we now know that federally protected winter run Chinook largely failed to reproduce in the wild in 2014 due to elevated river temperatures, fishing restrictions to further protect them likely won’t kick in until next year when they’re big enough to bite a bait.
The official 2015 forecast will be announced by state officials at a meeting February 26 in Santa Rosa. This number will be used by the Pacific Fisheries Management Council to propose times and areas where ocean salmon fishing will be allowed off the California coast. The Council will finalize setting the 2015 season by April. As of now, the sport salmon season is set to open on Saturday April 4 off the California coast south of Horse Mountain, near Shelter Cove in southern Humboldt County.
According to GGSA, things look relatively good on the Klamath River as well. There, fishery managers were shooting for a minimum escapement of 40,700 natural adult spawners. Instead they ended up with more than twice that at 95,330. Another 31,000 adult salmon returned to the hatchery.