With the Salmon Festival due to open in a couple of weeks their absence is troubling, but like many of nature’s creatures, their behavior and much of the natural conditions upon which their behavior largely depends, are still a mystery; in spite of our long-term attempts to understand conditions and predict behavior.
Trying to catch a disappearing act
Why are so few salmon returning to region's rivers?
By M.S. Enkoji - Bee Staff WriterPublished 12:00 am PDT Thursday, September 28, 2006
Where's the salmon?
So far, the silvery guest of honor at an upcoming festival at Nimbus Dam on the American River seems to be largely missing in Central Valley rivers, disappointing throngs of recreational fishermen.
And puzzling veteran anglers.
"The biggest word is there's hardly any fish out there and there's nothing on the horizon," said Sep Hendrickson, the host of a Sacramento radio talk show on fishing and hunting. "No one knows what's going on. It's an accumulation of everything."
Restrictions on commercial salmon fishing in the Pacific Ocean this year and good fish estimates had fired up predictions of a bumper crop of salmon surging home from the ocean into rivers like the Sacramento, American, Feather and San Joaquin for fall spawning.
"It should have been boom times for Central Valley anglers," said Mike Aughney, a former Bay Area fishing boat operator. "There's no salmon on the coast, doesn't look like any coming in. It really has us all baffled. We've all been proclaiming for months what a great season it's going to be in the Central Valley's rivers."
Actually, the salmon population returning to Central Valley rivers has been burgeoning for several years, according to Fish and Game biologist Scott Barrow. Last year, 451,000 adult salmon returned to the Feather, American, Sacramento, San Joaquin and other rivers in the region, Barrow said. This year, 632,000 salmon are estimated to return, he said.