Fish Sniffer On Demand Digital Edition Issue 3902 Jan 3-17 - Page 18

16 Jan 3-17, 2020 MAP FEATURE VOL.39 • ISS. 2 The Mokelumne may not be a big river, but it provided 33 percent of the Central Valley fall Chinooks caught in the recreational fishery and 43 percent of the commercial fishery in 2018, Photo by DAN BACHER, Fish Sniffer Staff. Big Numbers of Salmon Return Again to Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery L arge numbers of fall-run Chinook salmon have returned to the Mokelumne River in Clements this fall despite challenging salmon fishing on the Mokelumne and adjacent sloughs this season. A total of over 12,658 salmon have gone over Woodbridge Dam in Lodi on the Mokelumne as of December 10, according to Will Smith, manager of the CDFW’s Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery. “We’re seeing a good, above normal season, although anglers have reported slow fishing in the river,” Smith said. “We will probably see just over 13,000 fish this fall.” The hatchery trapped 2,168 adult males and 3,324 adult females, along with 2,063 jacks and 560 jills. The hatchery took 1.4 million eggs on the best day this year alone. The hatchery has taken 7.9 million eggs to date. “We may take another 100,000 eggs next week, but we’re pretty much done,” said Smith. 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 2018 fall salmon returns were also impressive, with a total return of 17,474 fish. These record runs have contributed greatly to the ocean recreational and commercial fishery over the past couple of years. The Mokelumne, a relatively small river, provided 33 percent of the Central Valley fall Chinooks caught in the recreational fishery and 43 percent of the commercial fishery in 2018, according to the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) in February 2018. Hatchery staff plan to raise and release 6.8 million smolts into the San Joaquin River and other sites in the spring of 2020. They will put 3.8 million of these in the San Joaquin and 3 million in the ocean for enhancement purposes. These fish will be divided up between 160,000 salmon for Monterey and 160,000 for Santa Cruz in the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project pens, 750,000 for the Coastside Fishing Club pen project in Pillar Point Harbor and 1.9 million at Fort Baker for direct release by the CDFW at night. This fall of 2018 yielded excellent salmon fishing for anglers in the lower Mokelumne River and adjacent sloughs. However, fishing was much slower this year, with few people reporting catching fish in spite of the good numbers of fish in the river. “Anglers would come up to the hatchery this year and be surprised why we had so many fish when the fishing was so poor,” said Smith. When I went to the hatchery on December 10, the river and hatchery were plugged with salmon ready to spawn. Smith and hatchery officials were processing the fish, separating the males from the females. They removed the sperm and the eggs from the fish, mixing the sperm and eggs and putting the eggs in buckets where they are disinfected and then placed in incubation sites. The steelhead runs have increased dramatically in recent decades also. The ponds at the hatchery were plugged with hundreds of steelhead, including some big ones, on the day of my visit. A record number of adult steelhead, 719, returned to the hatchery in the winter of 2017. The facility has trapped 367 adults so far this season, according to Smith. The hatchery trapped 530 adults and 638 juveniles, in 2018, a total of A total of over 12,658 salmon have gone over Woodbridge Dam in Lodi on the Mokelumne as of December 10. Here we see a CDFW 1,168 fish. That staffer sorting salmon for spawning. compares to 719 Photo by DAN BACHER, Fish Sniffer Staff. adults and 402 juveniles the fishery, rather than as a wild steelhead or previous season, a total of 1,121 fish, trout river. The CDFW regularly stocked This is quite a turnaround for the river, the river with catchable size steelhead in the since no steelhead came back to the 10 to 15-inch range, hatchery, located on the river right below There are many factors behind the Camanche Dam, for 10 years from 1976 through 1986. Again in 1998-1999, no adult record salmon and steelhead runs in recent years on the Mokelumne. “Strong returns steelhead returned to the facility. In those years, the river hosted a popular confirm the health of the Mokelumne River, making this a welcoming home where resident trout fishery for fly, bait and lure salmon can survive and thrive,” said Jose anglers, but relatively few of the 100,000 Setka, EBMUD Manager of Fisheries steelhead yearlings released every year and Wildlife. “The strategies at work are went to saltwater and returned. proving successful and are leading to a Before the listing of the Central Valley robust population of salmon in this river.” steelhead under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Mokelumne was Trout ~ Kokanee ~ Salmon ~ Shad managed as a OFFICIAL SPONSOR catchable trout 18 Proven Kokanee/Trout Dodgers! Will Smith, The CDFW’s Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery manager, brings in another salmon to be spawned. Photo by DAN BACHER, Fish Sniffer Staff. 240 different size/color combinations! 82 YEARS of Catching TROUT & KOKANEE 100% Made in the USA Without a DICK NITE... You’re Not Fishin’ Right! •