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Sac River Salmon Opener a Bust

The salmon season on the lower Sacramento River opened on July 16 with a yawn. As described in the Chico Enterprise, “the salmon aren’t biting”. One fish was confirmed caught. The article paraphrased an analysis by CDFW biologist Rob Titus, who referred to a plan to hold back releases from Shasta Reservoir to help juvenile salmon to migrate to the ocean. The article also stated that “the drought has had a deep impact on the fish population.”

CDFW could have told everyone to stay home. The river flow was too low and the water temperatures were too high for salmon to move up the river. In a July 2 post, I warned about the low flows and warm water. In the lower river, flow was only 4000 cfs. Water temperature reached 72-74°F on opening day (see chart below), high enough to block migrating salmon. No CDFW biologist mentioned that while 10,000 cfs was being released from Shasta at the time, only 4,000 cfs was reaching the lower river.1 No one mentioned that the State Water Board is not enforcing the State standard of 68°F for the lower Sacramento.


  1. As of 7/23, Sacramento River flow below Wilkins Slough had increased only slightly, to about 4400 cfs.