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Salmon Counts Still Climbing at Red Bluff

 

 

Battle Creek -- Take a look at the chart below that depicts the yearly estimates of salmon runs up the Sacramento to Battle Creek since 1952.

 

SalmonCount_1.jpg

As you can see, after the construction of Shasta Dam the Chinook fall run was estimated to be less than 30,000 fish for nearly 30 years. Then, in 1980, the fish started to recover, perhaps due to more accurate record keeping, but what is most interesting is that the salmon population appeared to rise in the Sacramento steadily after about 1993 until just the last few years. The record year was 463,296 fish estimated in 2002, just six years ago.

 

Throughout that period we had lots of unscreened pumps, lots of water diversions, dry spells and wet spells, and the same number of predators or more. What we didn’t have were three straight years of poor offshore ocean conditions. That’s why the Krill Rebound story is so significant.

 

During 2005, 2006, and 2007 ocean conditions were poor. Cold water did not hug our shorelines quite so much. The food chain was disrupted. Salmon stayed further offshore and tuna and other exotics came closer to the shore as a result.

 

That’s Not All Folks – We Lost the Fry Program on the Sac

 

During that same time, the hatcheries also stopped raising and releasing fry. Many, including Gary Manies of Strictly Fishin in Redding, think that is primarily why we are not seeing enough fish spawn in the Sacramento main stem or its tributaries. Manies points out that when they stopped releasing fry, the number of fish counted as spawners in the main river began to drop. Manies explains it this way.

 

“Smolts released from the hatchery are imprinted with Battle Creek water. This may explain why counts of hatchery fish returning to Coleman were high from about 1994 until just recently. At the same time, we’ve seen a steady drop in the number of fish spawning in the river and its tributaries. That’s because the fry were imprinting in all parts of the system, but now that the hatchery doesn’t raise or release any we are losing that part of the fishery. After 100+ years of releasing hatchery raised fish (fry or smolts) we no longer have a pure native strain of fish coming up the rivers. We’ve got new body of fish and we are not allowing the fry to “smolt” and imprint to a wide range of waters, so we are jeopardizing that part of the fishery,” Maines said. “If we released millions of fry and got only a tiny percent return, even less than one percent, we could restore this natural spawning.”

 

Manies met with U.S. Representative Wally Herger this week to discuss this situation. Manies says he got Herger’s support. In effect, Manies wants more fry production or more hatcheries or both, whatever it takes to restore the CV system. “Coleman has room to raise and release more fry, why aren’t they doing it,” he asks. More on this meeting next week.

Whatever, it’s plain to see that it was not overfishing, but underproduction that caused last year’s collapse on the Sacramento and CV systems.

 

fr_clip_image002_0000.jpgBy Frank Galusha, EasyWriter
Are Salmon on Rebound, too? 
Historic Records Open Eyes
Ocean Condition Just One Cause
Loss of Fry Program also keyed to Sac River Salmon Collapse 
Local Guide Gary Manies Meets with U.S. Congressman Herger 

Red Bluff -- The salmon counters at the Red Bluff Diversion Dam are now seeing as many as 351 salmon in a single day and have tallied 4332 fish as of Wednesday, up more than 20 percent in comparison to this time last year. Are the Chinooks coming back to

Historic Record on Sacramento Tells Quite a Story

Fishing Reports

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Art work by Isabella Langaman
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