GSSA March 2021 Newsletter

GSSA asks CDFW, again, to truck remaining hatchery fish to west Bay release sites

Various locations near the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge could provide release sites with much higher survival than currently used sites near Vallejo

GSSA has asked the California Dept of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to truck all of its hatchery-produced baby salmon to release sites in SF Bay this year due to high expected losses if the fish are released in the Sacramento Valley into low water drought conditions.  

GSSA told CDFW that with low salmon numbers this year, and a likelihood of the same or worse next year, trucking this year’s fish could alleviate a lot of pain coming to the salmon industry.  Although it won’t help this year’s restricted season, it should produce a large number of 20” jacks by next year and a potentially very good season in 2023.  This will be especially valuable considering water temperature modeling is now showing that water temperatures on Sacramento Basin spawning grounds could be lethal for salmon by fall. 

GSSA also requested the Department to shift Bay release sites from Mare Island/Vallejo to points west in the Bay.  This is an easy way to boost salmon survival at a time when we have drastic cuts in this year’s ocean salmon fishing season and big economic damage looming for many, both this year and next. GSSA points out that the benefit to survival of moving just a few miles further west is so great, at such a low cost, that it should be done.

Sport fishing guides and others in the Sacramento River reported the lowest numbers of fall run in living history last season.  Compounded by the thiamine deficiency problem, which we know hit natural spawned salmon, we could see low numbers of Central Valley natural spawned fall run and hatchery salmon the next few years to come.

GSSA’s request includes the one million Feather River fall run salmon that were trucked until a few years ago when a policy change resulted in them instead being dumped into the Feather River.  We’ve also requested trucking of the Nimbus hatchery fish originally scheduled for release at the hatchery.  Together, these should add another three to four million fish that will contribute significantly to the fishery in the next few years.

GSSA pilot project with Coleman Hatchery releases fish downstream, boosts survival

GSSA president John McManus lends a hand to get the fish into the river

On Friday March 26 the Coleman Hatchery trucked 180,000 baby salmon to Butte City on the Sacramento River west of Chico for release. The release site is about 80 miles downstream from the hatchery.  A control group of 180,000 was released into Battle Creek at the hatchery two days prior in order to compare survival to those released downstream.  

180,000 baby salmon, all tagged, are released into the Sacramento River 80 miles downstream from the Coleman Hatchery to boost survival 

The releases are part of a three year collaborative experiment between GSSA and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to test if survival of Coleman fish can be boosted in low water years while still getting the fish to return as adults to the upper Sacramento River Basin.  The Norcal Guides Association is helping to move the net pen used in the release by providing boats and captains.  

All the fish have tiny tags in them that can be retrieved years later when they return as adults to spawn. A subset of the fish were fitted with short lived acoustic tags that will trigger detections in receivers embedded at various locations in the Sacramento River and Delta.  This will allow an almost instant way to compare the progress of both groups of fish as they travel down the river. GSSA is very appreciative of the efforts of Norcal Guides, the USFWS, the Bureau of Reclamation (which provided the expensive acoustic tags) and everyone else involved and looks forward to the results.

Restricted ocean fishing season ahead

Almonds Growing, now biggest crop in Ca, while salmon crash

Ocean salmon commercial and sport fishermen and women are looking at drastic cuts to ocean fishing season this year. The exception will be those sport salmon anglers south of Pigeon Point in the Monterey cell, which extends south to the Mexican border.  They’ll open April 3 and see a fairly full season. Everyone else is looking at only getting only about half of a normal season, at best. 

The highly restricted season alternatives were adopted by the Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC) at its March meeting.  Final decisions about time and area that will be open will be determined when the PFMC reconvenes in April.  

This year’s drastic cuts are tied to low numbers of both Sacramento and Klamath River salmon.  Concern over a low number of Klamath fish means commercial trollers likely won’t be allowed to fish above Pt. Arena and sport anglers out of Eureka and other northern ports will have an extremely limited number of days available to fish. 

In both the Sacramento and Klamath rivers, the low number of salmon is primarily traced to unbalanced water practices that regularly divert too much of the water needed by salmon. In the middle of the last drought from 2012 to 2016, as salmon numbers were decimated, 340,000 acres of new almond orchards were added in California. Almonds require a gallon of water to produce a single nut. California’s salmon runs still haven’t recovered from the losses suffered in thatdrought. 

Officials believe there are only about 271,000 adult Sacramento Valley salmon now in the ocean off the West Coast which is far below the 500,000 needed to support a half way decent ocean salmon season.  Many salmon related jobs and businesses, as well as those in the hospitality industry that typically serve the sport fishery, could be seriously harmed in 2021. 

GSSA Works with San Mateo Harbor District, wins unanimous resolution

San Mateo Harbor District commissioners Nancy Reyering, Virginia Chang Kiraly and Tom Mattusch demonstrated great leadership that helps salmon fishing families

GSSA and the Tuolumne River Trust worked with members of the San Mateo County Harbor District to win passage of a resolution aimed at helping the salmon industry.  

On March 17 the San Mateo County Harbor District unanimously adopted the resolution calling on the State Water Resources Control Board to resume work to balance water uses of Central Valley rivers that feed the Delta and Bay. The resolution urges the use of science to establish required levels of flow in the rivers, which is essential to restoring the ecological health of salmon and other wildlife.  

State law requires the State Water Resources Control Board to update the plan every three years, which they’ve failed to do.  The last major update occurred 25 years ago. During that time, six different fish species that live part or all of their lives in the Delta, including winter and spring run salmon, have declined to the point of needing protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.  

The Harbor District, led by Commissioners Tom Mattusch, Nancy Reyering, and vice president Virginia Chang Kiraly, approved the resolution because commercial and recreational salmon fishing families in San Mateo County are an important part of the community served by the Harbor District.  The Harbor District found that the salmon industry provides many jobs across the county in a variety of sectors including boatyards, harbor operations, and income to nearby restaurants and fish processing facilities.  GSSA thanks the Harbor District for taking this action and the leadership and example they’ve shown to other Bay Area representatives. 

GSSA goes online with ad campaign aimed at SFPUC

GSSA and allies have launched an online ad campaign to educate the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and City residents about the damage to salmon runs caused by the SFPUC’s mismanagement of its water supply from the Tuolumne River.  The hope is that the campaign by a coalition called SF4Water will result in the SFPUC acting more environmentally responsible. 

San Francisco, and the other two water agencies that also divert the Tuolumne, are refusing to reduce diversions in spite of the state telling them more water needs to be left in the river to rebuild salmon runs and the health of the Delta to the Bay.   Most San Franciscans probably have no idea their water agency is harming salmon and the environment.  As recently as the mid 1980’s the Tuolumne still had 40,000 salmon returning to it.  Last year it saw about 1,000.  If you live in San Francisco, you can help by calling or writing the Mayor here.

Biden administration tells court it will reinstate a key Delta salmon protection

Flooding almond orchards in the San Joaquin Valley could be a little harder this year due to federal pumping restrictions

The Biden administration says in a letter to GSSA attorneys that it will abide by a Delta pumping rule put in place in 2009, at least for this year.  This limits pumping as measured by how fast a part of the San Joaquin River flows backwards to the pumps.  The maximum allowed is negative 5,000 cubic feet per second of reverse flow during critical spring months when baby salmon are trying to get from the Central Valley to the ocean.  The Trump administration abandoned this pumping limit and allowed water diversions at much higher rates.  The reversion to the more protective pumping level was announced as part of the court challenge GSSA and allies are litigating to get the entire Trump set of lax rules tossed out.  This good news from the Biden administration isn’t the end of the story, we’re still in court.  But at least we’ve gotten a good signal that we’re being heard.  

Guys vs Girls Sausalito salmon fishing showdown coming this July

Looks like a tossup!

We interrupt this broadcast to bring you….. some fun!

GSSA has chartered four of Sausalito best boats on July 30 for a day of friendly competition pitting guys against gals to see who can catch the biggest and most salmon.  

There are spots reserved for only 30 guys and 30 gals aboard the Salty Lady, New Rayann, Hog Heaven, and the Outer Limits.  Keep an eye on our weekly auctions to get a ticket. 

This will be a fun day on the water that everyone will be talking about all season (or maybe for years to come).  Whether you are fishing solo for some friendly competition, and to make new friends, or if you have an ongoing bet with a friend or spouse on who can catch the biggest fish, this will be a fun way to find out. 

With barbless hooks, finesse can mean the difference between landing that big one or not.  Who’s got more finesse, the guys or the girls?  For you guys who think you’ve got this in the bag, don’t forget we have a lot of ladies who are excellent salmon anglers in our area.  

If you want to be part of an event where the losers cheer on the winners, and vice versa, just for the fun of it, then get onboard.  Everyone will be a winner, assuming we find the fish, which shouldn’t be too hard at that time of year.