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Salmon Fishing Forecast "Pretty Good" For The Ocean But Questionable For Rivers

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio News

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio News

It looks like it will be a good salmon season in the Pacific Ocean, but it's uncertain whether the drought will allow much of a fishing season on California rivers. 

The Pacific Fisheries Management Council says this is a normal fishing season for Sacramento Fall Run Chinook in the ocean.  The council has presented three possible fishing seasons to the public for review.  

Mike Burner with the council says the three season options for Point Arena to Pigeon Point would run from May 1st to September 30th with 14, 20 or 24-day  mid-season closures.
"Not quite as good as last year, but with numbers in the 600,000's, should provide good fishing opportunity," says Burner.
He says the options are similar. 

"Not only do we have biological benchmarks that we need to make  but there are established allocations between tribal and non-tribal fisheries, as well as sport and commercial that we need to meet," Burner says. "So, there's only so much flexibility we have in making the alternatives widely different."

David Bitts is a commercial fisherman from McKinleyville, north of Eureka.  He's pleased with the ocean forecast, but worries about the inland fishing season if  California doesn't get more rain and snow.

"We're looking at -in all the options- more than 300,000 fish predicted to come back to the Sacramento River," says Bitts. "It may not be suitable for spawning by the time they get there."

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says rainfall and state and federal water allocations will determine how much water is available for the fall run Chinook.  There are river level requirements for the spring and winter run Chinook, but not for the fall run.  

The California Fish and Game Commission usually sets the parameters for the  salmon fishing season on California rivers in May.

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