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Officials predict good salmon fishing season off California coast

Federal regulators badly overestimated how many chinook salmon would return to the Sacramento River last fall, a key criteria used to set the sport and commercial fishing season.

Nevertheless, scientists expect there will be plenty of salmon to allow fishing off of California and Oregon, officials said.

"Despite our shortcomings in forecasting, there will be a bunch of fish around next year," said Chuck Tracy, spokesman for the Pacific Fishery Management Council in Portland, Ore. "It will probably provide a pretty good opportunity for most fisheries."

2011: Salmon Season At Bodega Bay

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North Coast fishermen will get those numbers and the forecast for the coming fall return of chinook salmon at a meeting Tuesday held by the state Department of Fish and Game.

"I still think there will be a lot better season," said Chuck Cappotto, president of the Fishermen's Marketing Association of Bodega Bay. "We are due for a couple of good years."

The Fish and Game meeting is 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Sonoma County Water Agency, 404 Aviation Blvd., north of Santa Rosa.

A technical advisory committee to the Pacific Fishery Management Council met last week in Portland, the beginning of the annual regulatory process that will include a dozen meetings on the West Coast. The final decision on the fishing season will made April 6.

The forecasts of the return of chinook salmon to the Sacramento River are a primary factor in determining the timing of the salmon fishing for both sport and for commercial fishermen.

The council biologists had predicted 377,000 adult chinook salmon would return to the Sacramento River and its tributaries and hatcheries last fall but only 121,742 actually were counted.

A level of 122,000 is considered the minimum threshold in federal plans to restore the population of chinook, considered an endangered fish.


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