The California Fish and Game Commission, during a teleconference in Sacramento late last month, voted 5 to 0 to approve a limited fishing season targeting fall run chinook salmon on the Sacramento, Feather and American rivers.
The season is based on the decision by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) on April 15 to give 12.6 percent of the Central Valley fish allocation to the in river fish, according to Neil Manji of the California Department of Fish and Game. The PFMC set a harvest target of 8,200 fish for the three rivers.
The allocation by sub-quota is 2,000 fish for the American, 2,000 for the Feather, 2,600 for the Upper Sacramento and 3,600 for the Lower Sacramento.
The Feather River season will run from July 31 to August 31 from 1,000 feet below the Thermalito Afterbay Outfall to the mouth.
The American River season will run from October 30 to November 28 from Ancil Hoffman Park to the mouth.
The Lower Sacramento season will run from September 4 to October 3 from the Highway 113 Bridge to Carquinez Bridge.
The Upper Sacramento River season will run from October 9 to October 31 from the Deschutes Rod Bridge to 500 feet above the Red Bluff Diversion Dam.
The Upper Sacramento River season targeting flat fall chinook salmon will run from October 9 to December 12 from 150 feet below the Red Bluff Diversion Dam to the Highway 113 Bridge.
"The reason for closing the area right below the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet was because there is a substantial amount of illegal snagging that takes place there," said Manji. "If we had allowed fishing in the outlet, the quota would have been reached early in the season."
There is a bag limit of two fish in all of the open sections of the Central Valley salmon season.
"There was a question of whether to do a daily creel update to see if the quota is reached, but it seemed more appropriate to close the fishing during the peak of the runs as we have done," said Manji.
The season is controversial because it is based on an ocean abundance estimate of 245,000 fish this year by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Last year the federal biologists estimated over 122,000 Sacramento River chinooks would return, but only 39,530 fish, less than the third of the number forecasted, actually returned to the rivers to spawn.
Nobody from public spoke in support or opposition to the season during the teleconference, although Paul Weekland, a veteran Fish and Game Commission meeting attendee, questioned whether or not there would be adequate enforcement on the rivers to make sure that the quota is not exceeded.