Hatcheries in California are releasing tens of millions of salmon smolts in 2022, per normal operations. State hatcheries are trucking over ten million fall-run salmon to the Bay again this spring because of the drought. State and federal hatcheries are releasing another ten million-plus fall-run smolts to the rivers near the hatcheries.
Future salmon fisheries will depend mostly on the Bay releases, because few of the hatchery smolts released to the river or wild salmon smolts will survive the journey to the ocean this drought year. Yet even the prognosis for smolts released to the Bay is poor. Delta outflows near 4000 cfs under the State’s TUCP will keep survival below one percent (Figure 1).
Meanwhile, the prognosis for wild fall-run smolts under the TUCP is grim as they began moving through the Delta in late April and early May (Figures 2 and 3). The extra month of normal outflow needed to help the salmon get to the ocean would amount to about 100-150 TAF, less than 10% of what is being supplied to water users from reservoirs in spring 2022. Is the TUCP allocation to outflow and fish reasonable?