The commercial season for chinook salmon has gotten off to a slow start, with windy conditions making it difficult for fishing boats to get out of port and, when they do get to sea, few fish are being caught.
"I would not say there is an abundance of fish, and the weather is a limiting factor," said Chuck Cappotto of Gualala, president of the Fishermen's Marketing Association of Bodega Bay. "No one is going out and getting much."
As a result, fresh fish have not made it yet into North Coast stores, said G&G Market fish buyer John Drake.
"The catch has not been all that significant," he said.
Drake said markets may get some fish today, but he didn't know what the price might be.
Cappotto said fishermen are getting $5 to $6 per pound for the fish that are being caught near Half Moon Bay.
Michael Lucas of North Coast Fisheries in Santa Rosa said they have fish from Half Moon Bay and Moss Landing that will be in stores in Sonoma and Napa counties on the weekend.
Lucas said the fish are expensive this early in the year. They are paying fishermen $6.25 a pound and the price may reach $9 a pound by the time fish are in the stores.
The commercial fishing season opened Tuesday and is the longest season for fishermen since 2004, based on the forecast that 819,400 adult chinook are in the ocean and 436,000 are expected to return to the Sacramento River to spawn this fall.
There was no commercial fishing season in 2008 and 2009, a short season in 2010 and a somewhat longer season last year.
The last time Bodega Bay fishermen had a full season, which is May 1 to Sept. 30, was in 2004.
This year, along the Sonoma County coast, the commercial chinook salmon season opened Tuesday and runs to June 4, and reopens June 27 to Aug. 29 and Sept. 1-30. The fishing area stretches from Point Arena to Point Sur in San Francisco.
In the Fort Bragg area, from Horse Mountain to Point Arena, commercial chinook salmon fisheries will be open July 11 through Aug. 29 and Sept. 1-30.
Strong winds on the ocean kept fishing boats in Bodega Bay until Thursday.
Cappotto said most of the boats were fishing off Half Moon Bay, where the weather was better. He said he unloaded 800 pounds of salmon at Half Moon Bay Friday morning.
Bodega Bay fisherman Chuck Wise was among those fishing west of Bodega Bay and said very few fish were caught, but that is typical of early in the season.
"Most of the guys have one fish or no fish, one may have had nine," Wise said. "Year in and year out, we don't get good fishing until June or July."
You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.