Reflecting optimism about this year's abundance of chinook salmon, fishing industry regulators on Wednesday approved the longest commercial season in more than a decade. But the state's record drought has darkened the long-term outlook for one of California's most valuable fish.
The San Francisco region's 2015 season will total 139 days between May 1 and Sept. 30, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council decided near the end of a weeklong conference in Rohnert Park. The council also voted to allow 11 days of fishing off Point Reyes National Seashore in October, when the fall-run chinook pass under the Golden Gate Bridge to spawn in the Sacramento River system.
"I am feeling pretty good about this year," said Pillar Point fisherman Don Marshall, who represents a group of roughly 75 small boat operators throughout California. "I think there are some fish around."
But as California's historic drought enters its fourth year, chinook salmon are under duress. Dry winters take a big toll on the fish, also known as king salmon, which need plenty of cold water to make their way out to sea as juveniles and return to lay eggs as adults.
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