The California drought and a strange warming trend in the ocean have not yet killed off the Sacramento River’s king salmon, which are swimming off the coast unaware of all the doomsaying.
That could all change next year, fisheries experts warn, when the full effect of the four-year dry spell hits the scaly creatures where they live.
There are 652,000 fall run chinook salmon that were born in the Sacramento swimming in the sea right now, about 17,000 more fish than there were at this time last year, according to estimates by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
That’s good news for ocean fishers, who were told of their angling prospects this past week by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. State biologists say the salts who ply the choppy seas can expect to reel in at least as many fish as they did last year regardless of the dire conditions that prevail on the land and in the water.
“In short, I see California fisheries as a similar if not improved opportunity compared to 2014,” said Mike Burner, the staff officer for the Pacific Fishery Management Council, a 19-member organization that sets ocean salmon fishing policy in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. “The adults we see here for 2015 got out of the river system before the drought hit. On top of that, they hit what most people think of as relatively good marine conditions for salmon growth in the ocean.”
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