by Dan Bacher
The numbers of fall run chinook salmon returning to spawn in the Sacramento River and its tributaries to date are significantly better than the record low returns of last year, although the numbers are well below the banner run of 2002 when nearly 800,000 fish returned to the system.
Last year only 39,530 fall chinooks returned to Central Valley rivers. Fishing was closed in the Sacramento and tributaries in 2008 and 2009, with the exception of targeted season for late fall chinooks on the Sacramento, due to the unprecedented fishery collapse.
However, a pre-season estimate of 245,000 fish by the National Marine Fisheries Service spurred the state and federal government fishery agencies to allow limited recreational fishing for fall chinooks on the Feather, American and Sacramento rivers this year, as well as restricted recreational and commercial ocean salmon seasons.