DFG to Release Three Million Salmon Smolts Near Mouth of American River

Media Contacts:
Patrick Foy, DFG Law Enforcement, (916) 651-2084
Dana Michaels, DFG Communications, (916) 322-2420

Three million young Chinook salmon, or “smolts,” will be released near the mouth of the American River on May 5 and 6. They were raised at Nimbus Hatchery on the lower American River by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG). This release site was chosen because studies have shown that young salmon released near the mouth of their home river are more likely to return to that river to spawn, two to five years later.

“This year we are expecting a very good return of salmon on the American River and this will give anglers a greater chance to catch one of these magnificent fish,” said Senior Environmental Scientist Joe Johnson of DFG’s North Central Region.

The adult salmons’ journey is tracked through the use of coded wire tags that show when and where they were tagged and released. Since 2007, 25 percent of the 48 million salmon smolts released by state and federal hatcheries have been imbedded with these tiny tags.

DFG biologists are working to decrease straying rates, where adult salmon return from the ocean and spawn in a different river than the one in which they were born. Releasing these young salmon at the mouth of the American River is one more step fisheries managers are taking to help bring back a full and healthy run to the river and improve the genetic integrity of each river’s salmon population.

The Jibboom release site, which is near the mouth of the American River, was selected after biologists reviewed release and return data from numerous sites. They found that a large number of smolts released from the Jibboom site in previous years were returning to the American River.

To ensure the highest survival rates of the smolts on their migration downriver, DFG and the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) are coordinating release timing, flows and closure of the Cross Channel Gates operated by BOR during the short migration period.

The DFG Law Enforcement Division reminds anglers that these salmon are off limits! Salmon may not be taken or possessed in the location where they will be released. Use of salmon as bait is also a violation. The 2011-2012 Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations are posted at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/FreshFish-Mar2011/.