By Peter Ottesen

Record Staff Writer

November 18, 2009

The number of Chinook salmon returning to spawn this autumn in Central Valley rivers is fluctuating wildly – from improved returns in the Feather, Mokelumne and American rivers to returns as poor as 60 percent below last year’s counts in Battle Creek, the most important spawning stream in the Sacramento River system.

Whether there will be an ocean sport fishing season for king salmon off the California coast is anyone’s guess, but it doesn’t look good. The ocean season has been closed for two consecutive years, as has the in river season in the Bay-Delta Estuary and the Sacramento River and its tributaries. The Sacramento River system produces about 85 percent of the Chinook salmon found in the state’s coastal ocean waters. It’s that important to the health of the resource.

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