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As Salmon Season Opens, A Reminder Of Drought's Lasting Effects

Daniel Potter / Capital Public Radio

California Congressman Jared Huffman expects it will take several years for salmon populations to recover from the drought.

Daniel Potter / Capital Public Radio

Tuesday marks the start of a shortened commercial salmon fishing season in the waters off San Francisco. A smaller salmon population is one effect of the drought that could persist for years.

During the drought, water flows that young salmon depend on were unusually warm and slow, and many didn’t survive. That prompted the Pacific Fishery Management Council to cut the 2017 season in half. That’s why Aug. 1 is a big deal for fisherman Mike Hudson.

073117 Hudson DP SquareFisherman Mike Hudson says he trusts the salmon population will rebound. Daniel Potter / Capital Public Radio
“We actually get to go fishing," Hudson says. "Usually we start on the first of May.”

Each season Hudson averages out his daily catch. He says last year’s was not good.

“In the better seasons it’ll be 20 fish in a day," he says, "my best season was an average of 60 fish a day, which was a lot. And last year’s average for me was three fish a day.”

Hudson expects it’ll take few more years for the salmon to fully recover.  In the meantime, he says fishermen are just doing what they can to get by.

“We’re going to see another three years of low returns from the terrible drought conditions that hammered the salmon populations," says Congressman Jared Huffman, whose district includes the Northern California coastline. "And we’re going to need to probably go to bat for our fishing communities year after year until we get this thing turned around.”

Huffman says he wants millions of dollars in disaster relief for fishermen, but warns that getting it is tough, calling Congress “slow-moving” and “unproductive.”

 droughtsalmon fishing

Daniel Potter

Reporter

Daniel Potter started out as an intern at Nashville Public Radio, where he worked as a general assignment reporter for six years, covering everything from tornadoes to the statehouse.   Read Full Bio 

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