[env-trinity] Mercury News August 6 2009

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Thu Aug 6 09:52:33 PDT 2009

Fishermen cast some hope for a 2010 salmon season

Mercury News-8/5/09

By Cathy Kelly   


Salmon fishing may just materialize here next year, regulators say, for
recreational fishermen anyway.


The state Department of Fish and Game recently posted an April 3, 2010
opening date for recreational salmon fishing south of Humboldt County's
Horse Mountain, which would allow Monterey Bay anglers to catch two fish per
day of any salmon species other than coho.


The statement comes with a definite caveat, however, which is that a final
decision will not be made until March, once the final fish counts roll in. 


But Dana Michaels, a spokeswoman for the Department of Fish and Game, said
there is cause for some optimism, calling the announcement of the planned
season "an educated guess."


"It is based on several indicators, including reports from commercial and
recreational anglers and others who spend a lot of time on the ocean,"
Michaels said. "Apparently, they say they've seen more salmon this year than


Michael Mohr of the National Marine Fisheries Service, who heads the
agency's Santa Cruz-based Salmon Assessment Team, agreed, while cautioning
it's too early to tell for sure. 


"There are some encouraging signs, but it really depends on the number of
fish returning to rivers in September," Mohr said.


Sacramento River salmon are the ones local fisherman pray for most
fervently, and that population largely failed last year. The poor showing
resulted in the largest fishery closure on record. 


This year, 


California salmon fishing was banned commercially and largely banned for
sports fishing too, except for a 10-day opening later this month in the
Crescent City area.


But hope persists.


Mike Baxter, a longtime Santa Cruz fisherman and sometimes charter captain
of the Velocity, said most people he speaks to are thinking there will be
some limited recreational fishing of salmon next year.


"It's kind of good news," Baxter said. "It's not all gloom and doom."


In May, regulators opened recreational salmon fishing from Humbug Mountain
in Oregon to Horse Mountain in Humboldt County, from Aug. 29 to Sept. 7.


Some area fishermen are heading up north for that, Baxter said.


At the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor Wednesday, the current targets were
cod, halibut or albacore.


Longtime fisherman Bill Schuette was buying bait at Bayside Marine in a plan
to hook some halibut. 


"I think they're optimistic for some salmon next year," he said. "We're
hopeful. But they shouldn't open it unless it's the right thing for the


Tom Faulk of the Paloma, a commercial salmon boat, said the lack of salmon
has taken a big chunk out of his wallet.


"But we might have a season too next year," he said. "We usually don't hear
until late fall. It's just another uncertainty."


Commercial Fisherman Greg Ambiel said he was heading to Oregon to catch
albacore and that sports fisherman seem to be "luckier" than their
commercial brethren as far as getting a green light on salmon fishing.


Ambiel said some good years should be coming, as a lot of salmon were
planted last year.


And ocean conditions are "incredible" for salmon this year, he added, it's
the water use in the Central Valley that is killing them. A large system to
keep the salmon out of deadly San Joaquin River pumps was recently
installed, though, he said. 


The Central Valley problem was echoed in May by the Santa Cruz-based
director of the Fisheries Ecology Division of the National Marine Fisheries
Service, Churchill Grimes. According to the agency's Web site, Grimes gave a
presentation stating that the poor showing of Sacramento River fall Chinook
fishery last year was due to poor ocean conditions in the 2004 and 2005
brood years, but that the big problem is found onshore.


"Ultimate blame was attributed to longstanding and ongoing degradation of
freshwater and estuarine habitats and the subsequent heavy reliance on
hatchery production," Grimes stated. 


"Degradation and simplification of freshwater and estuary habitats over a
century and a half of development have changed the Central Valley Chinook
salmon complex from a highly diverse collection of numerous wild populations
to one dominated by fall Chinook salmon from four large hatcheries."


The state Department of Fish and Game gives recommendations on salmon
season, but the final determination is made by vote of the 14-member Pacific
Fisheries Management Council.



Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land

415 519 4810 cell

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