Fisheries managers from California and Oregon are predicting huge returns of Chinook this fall to the Klamath and Sacramento Rivers, totaling upwards of two million fish–a four to five fold increase from last year. On the Klamath, these returns could be the biggest since 1981.
The bright prediction is based on complicated modeling that looks at many factors, including the presence of immature jack and jill salmon. Fisheries managers attribute the possible boom runs to excellent ocean conditions and high river conditions as this class of salmon descended.
But wise anglers won’t rig their ten weights yet.
Last year, California fish managers predicted 700,000 fall chinook salmon in the Sac and only 200,000 arrived. And Oregon saw fisheries managers so sure of a boom year that harvest limits were increased before a single fish arrived; then when all was said and done, only a minute fraction of the predicted fish did, in fact, show up. California says they’ve adjusted their modeling for this year to improve its accuracy, but the skeptic remains a skeptic.
The other caveat to these predictions is that these big returns, if they show, will not suggest the salmon populations of the Sac and Klamath are recovering. The vast majority of these fish will be of hatchery origin, raised in tanks until they were released to migrate. Real salmon recovery is still many years of hard work away.