Central Valley rivers are seeing a strong showing of Chinook salmon returning to spawn after record numbers last year.
The 20-year average for Chinook salmon coming up the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery has been about 9,500. But last year, almost 20,000 salmon made it upriver, the highest recorded since 1940.
More than 14,000 have already been counted by mid-November, according to Peter Tira with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
He says the recent rains have helped considerably.
“It clears out debris in the rivers when you get increased flows," Tira says. "These rains are a trigger, an environmental trigger, for the salmon that it’s time to move upstream.”
Tira adds that hatcheries at the Nimbus Dam on the American River and Feather River are also seeing high numbers.
Mokelumne River salmon make up 20 percent of the commercial and 35 percent of the recreational catch off the California coast.