SACRAMENTO RIVER
 

July 14, 2016    Headlines
Sac Salmon Opens July 16th

 

Sac Salmon Season set to open July 16th
The Sacramento river salmon season is set to open on July 16th.
The good news is that we will see colder flows and more water coursing down the Central Valley rivers this summer and fall. Colder / higher flows should improve catches for anglers and guides working the upper Sac.
The big question is just how strong will the run be. Over the past two years we have lost 95% or more of the juvenile salmon due to the incompetence of the Bureau of Reclamation AKA  the Bureau or Wrecklaimation. Thanks to the BOW not enough cold water pool was left behind Shasta dam which resulted in lethally warm flows into the upper Sac. Nearly all winter run and naturally produced fall run juveniles were decimated by these balmy flows.
Even with Shasta nearly filled to the brim this season we don't know if flows will be cold enough to prevent a third year of too hot to survive flows.
This coming season looks to offer a mixed bag of colder flows but fewer fish to go around. Ocean catches to date have been  slow out of most ports. There has been sporadic good catches out the Golden Gate and off Eureka but low numbers of fish out of nearly all other ports. Ocean catches are similar to 2007 and I expect that the Sac, Feather and American rivers will follow that trend line. Jack counts in the Central Valley were up by 10% last year so I would expect a season much like 2015 and then add 10% or more. Overall  one could expect a  solid opener, then a trend down and fish per rod action mixed in with days of a fish per rod to easy limits come September and October.  The one bright spot is that most of the hatchery produced salmon fry were trucked around the Delta in 2014 and we could see more of these fish this season and next.
Pictured above a chrome Sac king caught with guide Dave Jacobs in October 2015


Guide Dave Jacobs has been spending the past two weeks at our Alaska vacation home. This is Dave's tenth season staying here. Over the past week Dave has dialed in on Kenai and Kasilof kings landing fish to 60 pounds. He reports the best action has been on the Kenai river where they are hooking 6 to 12 fish per day most in the 20 to 40 pound class. After four tough years and restrictions on sport anglers the Kenai and most other Alaska rivers are seeing a resurgent king fishery. Dave says he is ready to return for the Sac opener after a little preseason warm up.  We will have regular Sac river reports beginning in late July.
 




Sacramento River salmon fishing update: June 27th
by Dave Jacobs

There is inevitably going to be some confusion whenever you have some new closures or any regulation changes to our salmon fishing on the Sacramento River or anywhere in Northern California. That is just the nature of the news business as news stories get picked up and reposted throughout the country.
Fortunately, I have been able to maintain my fishing schedule and stay very involved with all of the current regulation changes that have taken place, some on the Sacramento River system and others on rivers like the Klamath and Trinity Rivers. Here are a few of the big changes that will hopefully clear up any confusion anglers may have about this years salmon and trout fishing seasons on the Sacramento River.
The first big change is the small fishing closure on the upper Sacramento River near Redding, Ca. This is confusing to many because it talks of protecting endangered Winter salmon and no fishing to help protect these salmon. Most just hear a few words in these news reports that circulate like CLOSED…SACRAMENTO RIVER….SALMON….FISHING.

Here is the recent change, as of April 1st, there is a closed 5.5 mile stretch of the Sacramento River in downtown Redding to ALL FISHING. The closed section of river is from the highway 44 bridge upriver to the base of Keswick Dam through July 31st. This section of river will re open to trout fishing on August 1st. THIS CLOSURE HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THE 2016 SACRAMENTO RIVER FALL RUN KING SALMON SEASON.

The 2016 Sacramento River Fall run king salmon season will open 150 feet below the Sycamore boat launch at the Red Bluff Diversion Dam on July 16th. The Sacramento River above the Red Bluff Diversion Dam will open on August 1st all the way up to the Deschutes Bridge near Anderson Ca. This year the Sacramento River will remain open to salmon fishing through December 16th.

Sacramento River salmon possession limits

Here is the only change to the Sacramento River salmon fishing regulations. The possession limit has changed to four salmon in possession up from just two salmon in possession. This is very confusing to most but this clarification may help you better understand this change. There is a daily bag limit and a possession limit, each are not the same as many sometimes think. The daily bag limit on the Sacramento River is still the same when it comes to king salmon, each angler is allowed two king salmon per day. The possession limit has been increased to four salmon in possession up from the previous possession limit of just two salmon. So, an angler can now possess a total of four king salmon on their person, in their cooler or in their freezer etc,etc. An angler can still only catch and keep in one fishing day two salmon.

Sacramento River fishing report June 27, 2016

Sacramento River trout fishing

The best Sacramento River trout and shad fishing guides are on the river daily now as they await the official opening of the 2016 Sacramento River salmon fishing season.  The trout fishing in downtown Redding has slowed to a crawl this past week with many of the salmon, trout and sucker spawns in river coming to and end.  The drift fishing for conventional spin fishermen has slowed but very large trout in downtown Redding have still been caught despite the overall decrease in total numbers of trout landed.


Editorial to Following Story
The California Department Fish and Wildlife hatchery on the Feather river is planning on releasing their final stock of 1 million into the Feather river instead of trucking them around the river and Delta pumps to the Suisun Bay.
The Federal hatchery on Battle creek released 4 plus million salmon fry this past week and will dumping an additional 1.9 million fall run fish into Battle Creek this coming Friday.
The Golden Gate Salmon Association is opposed to these releases due to the current lower flows and clear water. With high numbers of spawning stripers and low / clear flows most of these fish will never make it as far as Sacramento. Past studies have shown that 94% of hatchery salmon released on the upper Sac never make it to San Pablo bay in these conditions.
GGSA is asking both the Feds and the State to either truck the salmon from the Feather river and release a "pulse" flow for 3 to 5 days to speed the Battle Creek salmon down river and to color the flows. This would allow out migrating baby salmon to quickly travel down river and predation losses would be much lower in the turbid flows.
Under similar circumstances in 1985 USFW and Coleman worked with water contractors to add pulse flows to Sac river while curtailing water diversions for a few days as the salmon swan past. The result was that in 1988 we saw one of the best sport and commercial seasons on record and huge returns of spawning salmon to the Central Valley rivers. Its amazing what can happen when both fishery managers and water contractors work together.
Somehow this lesson has not been passed on to current fishery and water (mis) managers.
The following is GGSA's press release from today opposing in-river releases until more natural spring like conditions are met and to have the Feather river fish trucked around the predators and Delta water diversions.
Mike Aughney

State Decision to Dump Salmon Opposed by Salmon Fishermen
Reversal of highly successful trucking program means fewer salmon will survive

San Francisco -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is abandoning a highly successful program that greatly increases salmon survival and is instead dumping valuable Feather River hatchery baby fall run salmon into a predator laden waterway starting Monday, April 25.  Most will die. The Golden Gate Salmon Association opposes the move and calls on CDFW to instead restore transport of these baby salmon via tanker trucks to safe release sites downstream of the danger zone.  Releasing baby salmon at safe sites in the western Delta and Bay greatly increases their survival and has kept the ocean fishery for both sport and commercial fishermen alive.  This practice has proven especially critical during the drought.  Without it, there almost certainly would not have been enough salmon to continue fishing.
In 2015, Feather River hatchery fish made up 76 percent of the hatchery fish taken by commercial salmon fishermen and 63 percent of those taken by sport fishermen.  

“Just last month at a salmon information meeting CDFW presented evidence that trucked Feather River fish were the major contributor to salmon caught by sport and commercial fishermen in the 2015 ocean fishing season,” said GGSA chairman Roger Thomas.  Thomas is also president of the Golden Gate Fishermen’s Association which represents charter boat owners and he holds a seat on the Salmon Stamp Committee.  “We can’t understand why they now want to take these fish away from us when we need them badly to stay in business.” 
“The Feather River provides the greatest single contribution of hatchery fish to ocean fisheries even though it is not the largest hatchery operation. The reason is that these fish are trucked past man-made hazards that decimate fish released upstream. Abandoning trucking, even in part, will hurt fishermen, related businesses, and consumers,” said GGSA board member Marc Gorelnik.  Gorelnik is also chairman of the Coastside Fishing Club.  
“If the state insists on dumping these fish into very dangerous waters where they’ll be lost,  then the state should also release water from Lake Oroville to speed these baby salmon down the Feather River past the danger zone so at least some survive,” said GGSA board member Mike Aughney.  Aughney is also the owner of USAfishing.com website. “Before the dams were built, high snow melt runoff would keep the rivers turbid and rapid in the spring. These are conditions baby salmon need to safely move from the Central Valley to the Bay and ocean.  Now with the dams, the rivers have less natural flow and sediment mixing and predation of baby salmon is much higher. There is plenty of water and snow now to allow for three or four days of water releases needed to help these baby salmon survive.”
In recent weeks fishing guides have documented high concentrations of predatory fish in the Feather and Sacramento rivers.  CDFW is reversing its proactive trucking practice because of theoretical concerns related to hatchery born salmon degrading the genetic purity of Central Valley fall run salmon and concern that trucked fish will lack the knowledge to keep them from straying into neighboring streams when they return from the ocean in two years.
Salmon fishermen puzzle over the stated attempt to establish a genetic distinction between Central Valley fall run salmon bred in hatcheries and other Central Valley fall run salmon that largely share identical genetics.  Hatcheries have functioned in the Central Valley for over 100 years and in that time hatchery born salmon have returned as adults and recolonized virtually every Central Valley stream and river that will still support salmon. 
“Study after study demonstrates there’s no such thing as a master race of Central Valley fall run salmon.  All Central Valley fall run salmon show interbreeding with hatchery stocks going back over 100 years,” said GGSA board member Dick Pool.
Once one of California’s greatest salmon producing rivers, the Feather was largely destroyed by construction of the Oroville dam.   State engineers refused to put a fish ladder on the dam when it was built, thus denying the salmon access to hundreds of miles of their historic spawning habitat now lost above the dam.  Adding insult to injury, they diverted most of the Feather River downstream of the dam into a man-made, shallow pond called the Thermalito Afterbay.  Here the water warms to temperatures lethal to salmon spawning and then flows back into the river.  This largely destroys another 15 to 20 miles of otherwise good salmon habitat downstream and forces returning adult salmon to veer into the colder Yuba River to spawn. 
The state should first fix the thermal pollution destroying the Feather River caused by the Thermalito Afterbay.  Then maybe we can talk about how to address the straying of Feather River fish into colder nearby rivers,” said GGSA executive director John McManus.
“We call on CDFW to truck the rest of this year’s Feather River fall run and resume a dialogue with key stakeholders on the future of trucking and hatchery management actions,” said GGSA founder Victor Gonella.  “Our future is being decided by theorists who are out of touch with the families that rely on these salmon to make a living.”
Earlier this year fishermen watched as state officials dumped federally protected hatchery spring run salmon into the Feather River upstream of a known predator hot spot rather than truck them a few miles further downstream to a point below the predator concentration. Most were probably lost.
“There’s disagreement over whose fish these are,” said GGSA board member Tim Sloane.  Sloane is also executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, a group representing commercial fishermen.  “The state is simply a custodian for these salmon, which belong to all Californians, but whose numbers are dwindling because dams and other development are blocking their historic habitat.  If the state chooses to act in a way that reduces the salmon we need to make a living, we think it only fair to be invited to partake in this decision that is so fundamental to our economic survival.”
The Golden Gate Salmon Association (www.goldengatesalmon.org ) is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fisherman, businesses, restaurants, a native tribe, environmentalists, families and communities that rely on salmon. GGSA’s mission is to protect and restore California’s largest salmon producing habitat comprised of the Central Valley river’s that feed the Bay-Delta ecosystem and the communities that rely on salmon as a long-term, sustainable, commercial, recreational and cultural resource.

In a normal year, California’s salmon industry produces about $1.4 billion in economic activity and about half that much in economic activity and jobs again in Oregon. The industry employs tens of thousands of people from Santa Barbara to northern Oregon. This is a huge economic bloc made up of commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen (fresh and salt water), fish processors, marinas, coastal communities, equipment manufacturers, the hotel and food industry, tribes, and the salmon fishing industry at large.

Sacramento River Closure to Go Into Effect April 1

Cal F & W News Release

(Once again we see another example where Cal Fish and Wildlife uses fishing regulations as their top management tool. Fisheries need to be managed to benefit and support stable populations of fish.  Regulating angling and not all the other stresses on our fisheries such as water diversion and drought does NOTHING to support our many fisheries)


A temporary emergency regulation closing all fishing within 5.5 miles of spawning habitat on the Upper Sacramento River begins on April 1, 2016 and will remain in effect through July 31, 2016. Enhanced protective measures are also proposed in the ocean sport and commercial salmon fisheries regulations for the 2016 season.
The temporary emergency regulation closes all fishing on the 5.5 mile stretch of the Sacramento River from the Highway 44 Bridge where it crosses the Sacramento River upstream to Keswick Dam. The area is currently closed to salmon fishing but was open to trout fishing. The temporary closure will protect critical spawning habitat and eliminate any incidental stress or hooking mortality of winter-run Chinook salmon by anglers.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife (
CDFW) scientists believe the additional protection provided in the emergency river closure and potential ocean fishing restrictions will help avoid a third year of substantial winter-run Chinook salmon loss.
Historically, winter-run Chinook spawned in the upper reaches of Sacramento River tributaries, including the McCloud, Pit, and Little Sacramento rivers. Shasta and Keswick dams now block access to the historic spawning areas. Winter-run Chinook, however, were able to take advantage of cool summer water releases downstream of Keswick Dam. In the 1940s and 1950s, the population recovered, but beginning in 1970, the population experienced a dramatic decline, to a low of approximately 200 spawners by the early 1990s. The run was classified as endangered under the state Endangered Species Act in 1989, and as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1994.
The Fish and Game Commission adopted CDFW’s proposal for the 2016 temporary closure at its regularly scheduled February meeting. Media Contact:
Jason Roberts, CDFW Northern Region, (530) 225-2131
Andrew Hughan
, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944


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