June 2022 Newsletter

July 23 Salmon BBQ, Tomales!

July 23 Salmon BBQ, Tomales!

Big thanks to all who helped make the Santa Rosa fundraising dinner a smashing success.  Next up is a salmon BBQ at the William Tell House in Tomales on July 23.   This is an afternoon event with two seatings, one at noon, the second at 4pm.  There’ll be outdoor seating at this historic venue in the small west Marin town.  We will be serving the best wild caught CA king salmon planet earth has to offer, along with other tasty treats, including a very special halibut ceviche.  So if you like to eat salmon, and you want to help GSSA do the work we do, get a ticket, or a bunch, and bring the gang for an eating treat.  It could be foggy but could be hot, so make sure you’ve got a hat and some sunscreen.

Season Update

Nothing like a little ice to make sure all the salmon get to where they’re going in good shape.

As the last commercial opener closed on June 12, good fishing was had just below the line at Pigeon Point. A glut of fish developed on the docks in SF for a day or so before finding its way to lucky consumers up and down the West Coast and beyond. The next commercial opener will be July 8 and this will open waters from the Mexican border all the way north to southern Humboldt County.

Ocean sport fishing has been very good for those fishing the Pigeon Pt/ Half Moon Bay area in June. Fishing in late June improved for ocean anglers off the Marin and Sonoma coasts, although not quite like the Half Moon Bay bite which some opined may be the best in a decade. Fish caught out of Bodega Bay anecdotally appeared to include more of the bright orange “krill fish” than those caught off the San Mateo coast. Fishing in the Sacramento River is scheduled to open on July 16 below Red Bluff.  Waters above Red Bluff will open on August 1.   

GSSA Partners with State, Richmond PAL, for First Ever Richmond Release

Local kids from Richmond Police Activities League watch baby salmon released in Richmond from the bow of the Salty Lady.

The Golden State Salmon Association (GSSA) joined the CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, City of Richmond, and the Richmond Police Activities League for the first ever release of 200,000 juvenile salmon in City of Richmond.  Two CDFW tanker trucks brought the fish down from the Feather River hatchery.  Because the release occurred at a defunct industrial warehouse/dock facility bordering SF Bay, efforts to include local teens required a boat so they could safely view the release from the water.  The release occurred after sundown to avoid bird predation.

The Richmond PAL supplied the teens and the charter boat Salty Lady picked them up at the nearby Richmond Marina for the short run to the release site.  Prior to the release, the Salty Lady cruised the teens out into nearby bay waters to see a little more of their extended neighborhood from the water.   Some of the teens said this was their first time on a boat. 

Baby salmon moved from the tanker truck through a pipe to the bay

Due to drought, the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife is trucking all of its baby hatchery salmon to San Pablo and San Francisco Bays, and other sites, for release this year.  This will greatly increase their survival compared to being released into drought-stressed Central Valley rivers.

Because of its proximity to the ocean, the Richmond site will provide a big survival benefit compared to the traditional CDFW release sites near Vallejo.

Local teens from the Richmond Police Activities League enjoyed the sunset from the deck of the Salty Lady

Sausalito’s Ft. Baker Sees Another 4 Million Fish Released

Coast Guard facilities shine in the background as CDFW staff hook up pipe to move baby salmon from truck to seawater.

CDFW recently finished releasing about four million fish at Sausalito’s Ft. Baker this year.  GSSA helped smooth things with the federal National Park Service, which administers the site, to win approval of the releases.  The current Park Service agreement allows release of up to two million fish a year but after conversations with GSSA, they agreed to relax that limit this year to accommodate drought-stressed fish.  Survival of fish released at night at the Ft. Baker site is among the highest of any release site used by CDFW. 

Legislature Call for $1.5 Billion to Buy Water/Easements

Since 2005 almond plantings in CA have increased by 940,000 acres and consumed an additional 4 million acre feet of water, about the same as what Lake Shasta stores.

GSSA was quoted by press all over the state and beyond on a proposal from the state legislature to buy water rights in order to boost flows in state rivers.  The legislature is responding to the extremely poor conditions in Central Valley salmon rivers primarily caused by the state awarding rights to far too much of the water to private land owners.  Technically, the state retains control of that water and allows the landowners to divert under certain conditions.  This technically allows the state to curtail those diversions if the conditions aren’t met.  However, the reality is once the water right is awarded, the state has rarely shown the political backbone needed to curtail diversions due to the uproar and perceived political consequences.  So instead of taking back what belongs to all Californians, the legislature has proposed taking $1.5 billion from the state budget and buying land with water rights, or agreements from willing seller landowners not to divert in exchange for payment of taxpayer dollars.  A major question is how will the state guarantee that any such deal actually result in more water eventually flowing through the Delta and out to the Bay and ocean?  There are many additional diverters downstream of any “new” water and those downstream diverters might simply grab the “extra” water.  The good news is there is experience in dealing with these issues.  GSSA has encouraged the state to hook up with the best water policy and legal experts who could guide this process so it actually helps salmon and the environment.  We’ll see if they take our advice.  A good backgrounder that GSSA  had some input on can be accessed here.    

Feds and Tribe Work to Bring Fish Back to the McCloud River

Look Familiar? King salmon from CA were transplanted to New Zealand, where they thrive.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is moving forward with the Winnemem Wintu tribe to reintroduce winter run salmon into the McCloud River. 

The McCloud still has the cold water all summer long needed by winter run salmon to successfully spawn.  The McCloud is the ancestral homeland of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, which lost much of their homeland and sacred sites – as well as their salmon – to the construction of Shasta Dam.  The river now flows into Lake Shasta, instead of a free-flowing section of the Sacramento River, because of the construction of the Shasta Dam.  

Because of the massive 2021 winter run kill below Shasta Dam, and the likelihood of another near total winter run wipe out this year, NMFS is working to bring fertile winter run eggs to the McCloud to be raised in an off-channel incubator.  Baby salmon will be allowed to swim from the incubator into the McCloud River.  Then they’ll be captured downstream and released downstream of Shasta Dam in order to get to sea.  This type of “trap and haul” movement of salmon around dams is done in Oregon and Washington but is new to California. The tribe would like to eventually see Sacramento king salmon that were transported to New Zealand many years ago brought back to repopulate the McCloud. Bringing these fish back, which have very successfully adapted to living in the wild in New Zealand, will be complicated. 

In the meantime, there’s much work to be done to refine the traps that will be used to catch the baby salmon coming downstream and to study the Tribe’s proposal to allow salmon to reach the McCloud on their own, by modifying a tributary below Shasta Dam.  

Renew Your Membership

If you haven’t done so already, please consider renewing your membership at $35 for the coming year.  We have a lot of work ahead and can’t do it without member support to keep the lights on and the staff working.  If you feel like providing more support, check out the higher membership categories available.

There’s a lot of work unfinished and a lot of work ahead.  Thanks for your support, as always.  You can renew online or mail a check in to:

P.O. Box 320096
San Francisco, CA