After they disappeared from the San Joaquin River 65 years ago, at least 23 Chinook Salmon have been counted as they return to the headwaters where they once roamed, and biologists believe the actual number is somewhere closer to 100 fish.
“The 23 adult salmon caught in April and May came from a cohort of 38,106 juveniles released in the upper San Joaquin in March 2017. That’s a relatively small number, by the way, given that a single female lays on average 4,200 eggs. To nab the returning adults, which are now more than two feet long, biologists deployed a truck-size, cylindrical mesh contraption called a fyke net.
Don Portz, director of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, points out that they probably caught only a fraction of the fish making the return trip. He says, “If there are 23 that we’re sure of, there’s probably 100 fish that came back.”
With biologists and conservationists working hard to restore these mighty King Salmon populations back to their historical homes, we hope to see more and more make the ultimate spawning journey and the species will be back, not to mention the angling opportunities that will open up to central California fly fishermen!
Featured image: Salmon fry before being released just outside San Francisco Bay Jim Wilson/The New York Times/Redux.