Hatchery still drawing large salmon count

Article from RecordNet.


By Dan Bacher / Record Correspondent
Posted Dec 5, 2018 at 12:01 AM

As the salmon fishing season nears its end on the Mokelumne and Sacramento rivers, big numbers of fall Chinook salmon continue to go up the fish ladder at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Mokelumne River Hatchery in Clements.

The count over Woodbridge Dam on the Mokelumne to date is 16,300 salmon, including 5,654 jacks, according to William Smith, hatchery manager. A record number of fall-run Chinook salmon, 19,954, went over Woodbridge Dam in the fall of 2017, the highest number since 1940. The season ends on the rivers on December 16.

When I visited the hatchery on November 29, the river and hatchery were plugged with salmon ready for spawning.

“With so many threats facing fish, strong returns confirm the health of the Mokelumne River, making this a welcoming home where salmon can survive and thrive,” said Jose Setka, EBMUD manager of Fisheries and Wildlife.

Setka said the big fall returns are a result of efforts that have focused on “fine-tuning water operations,” including managing cold water in Camanche and Pardee reservoirs to maintain good spawning conditions, releasing pulse flows of 1,500 cfs from Camanche Dam to attract fish, restoring gravel habitat and using tagging data to evaluate hatchery release strategies. Additional measures include transporting juvenile salmon by barge and feeding them a specialized diet to assist the fish in transferring from freshwater to seawater.

Another major factor he cited was the partnership they have developed with the federal agencies to close the Delta Cross Channel Gates to prevent Mokelumne fish from straying into other Central Valley systems.

Before 1998 when the Mokelumne River Setttlement Agreement went into effect, the average salmon run was 4,000 fish. Since then, the run has averaged 9,541 fish per year.

In addition to Lower Mokelumne River Partnership member agencies CDFW, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service and EBMUD, stakeholders responsible for the overall improvements in the river include the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, North San Joaquin Water Conservation District, Woodbridge Irrigation District and landowners along the river, according to EBMUD.

“Fishermen are so grateful to the staff at the Mokelumne River Hatchery – there is so much innovation there that leads to much higher salmon returns,” said John McManus, president of the Golden Gate Salmon Association. “One of the keys is they get support from EBMUD, an organization with an openness to trying new things. There is a recognition of hostile conditions downstream – and that they have to get around the hazards to increase fish survival.” Information: (209) 759-3383.

North Delta Stripers/Crappie: Both striped bass and crappie are showing in the Mokelumne River and Snodgrass Slough area out of Wimpy’s Marina as the fish feed on schools of shad. On his latest fishing adventure, Alan Fong of Fisherman’s Warehouse reported great crappie and striper action out of Wimpy’s.

“We hooked over a hundred crappie up to one-and-a-half pounds while using two-and-a-half inch Finesse Shad in smoke with black flake, smoke/chartreuse and salt and pepper colors,” said Fong. “We graphed massive schools of shad at 20 to 25 feet deep”

Fong found a hot bite for stripers to 8 pounds for an hour while throwing out Alabama rigs. “There are also quite a few bigger stripers showing in the Sherman Island area,” he tipped. Information: (916) 362-1200.

Amador /Camanche Trout: Weekly plants of trout are boosting the catch rates at Camanche and Amador lakes. Anglers are hooking trout while fishing from shore with PowerBait, nightcrawlers and Kastmasters or trolling with minnow imitation lures and worms behind flashers. Information: (209) 274-4739, (209) 763-5121.

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