Opening day of the recreational ocean salmon season may be an annual rite of spring, but it's a little bit like Christmas for die-hard anglers who spend the winter pining away for a chance to catch the sleek, silvery fish.
So if there's a crush of boat-towing vehicles headed toward Bodega Bay for Saturday's season opener, it should come as no surprise.
King salmon are calling.
"I call it 'pink gold,'" said sport fisherman Mike Erion, who works as a manager at Outdoor Pro Shop in Cotati. "People just love it."
"We haven't really been chasing salmon since late September of last year, so we're very excited," said Rick Powers, skipper on the New Sea Angler passenger boat. "There's a lot of anticipation, a lot of excitement."
Powers said part of the fun of a season opener is figuring out where the fish are biting best, as the population density tends to shift up and down the North and Central Coast during the season.
But the signs in Bodega Bay area already hopeful, with nutrient-rich water and sightings of jumping fish, he said.
"We've been lucky out in Bodega Bay," Powers said. "Bodega's been a good steady bite for the last five years."
Word gets out fast when that's the case, drawing crowds to the coast that can cause a backup two or three miles long for the launch ramp at Westside Regional Park, he said.
"It's kind of like a Super Bowl atmosphere," said Patrick Clifton, of Santa Rosa, who was out at Spud Point Marina on Wednesday readying his boat for the weekend. "The people are all jacked up to go fishing."