California anglers report slow start to salmon season

SAN FRANCISCO — California anglers Monday hoped to see better catches coming in a day after the first full-fledged commercial salmon season in three years got off to a slow start.

Fishermen reported that salmon below the 27-inch minimum were plentiful on the season's opening day Sunday but mature fish difficult to find. Some blamed ocean conditions for the absence of the boatloads of fish still hoped for since state wildlife officials predicted a tripling in the coastal salmon population.

Projections of nearly 730,000 salmon in waters off the California coast in 2011 led federal fisheries regulators to approve the first full-length season since 2007. Cancelled seasons in 2008 and 2009 and a shortened season in 2010 left many fishermen struggling to make a living.

The commercial season this year is set to run as long as May through September off some areas of the Northern California coast.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that high fuel prices have led some anglers to postpone their first trips to sea until reports come back of better salmon catches. Recreational anglers, who began fishing for salmon April 2, have not reported coming across many schools of the mature fish.

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