Regulations went into effect as of May 26, 2017 to close a 5.5 mile stretch of the Sacramento River to all fishing, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced. An emergency regulation had expired on Mar. 30, 2017, but was made permanent upon adoption of the Fish and Game Commission and filing with the Secretary of State.
The Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon population suffered an estimated 95 percent loss of juvenile natural production for the years 2014 and 2015 due to low reservoir storage and elevated water temperatures caused by the pervasive drought. Winter-run Chinook return to their natal rivers and streams every year to spawn.
“The prolonged drought that ended in 2017 has had a dramatic impact on winter-run, including the 2014 brood year, which will return as adults to spawn this year,” said CDFW Fisheries Branch Chief Kevin Shaffer. “It is vital to protect this year’s predicted small return of spawning adults and their young, and, over the next few years, to rebuild the stock and prevent extinction of winter-run Chinook.”
Maximizing adult spawning numbers is critical to the population. CDFW fisheries staff have evaluated recent winter-run Chinook spawning locations and have concluded that the majority of spawning occurs in the recently closed section above the Highway 44 bridge to Keswick Dam.
Although fishing for winter-run Chinook in this reach of the Sacramento River is not allowed under current regulations, incidental by-catch by anglers who are not targeting salmon has been documented and is significant, especially during low flow periods. Even if returned to the water, incidental by-catch stresses the fish, resulting in the potential loss of adults before spawning. A total fishing closure in the holding and spawning areas of winter-run Chinook is necessary to ensure this endangered fish population has the highest chance of survival.
As adopted by the Fish and Game Commission and in effect as of May 26, 2017:
Sacramento River below Keswick Dam, subsection 7.50(b)(156.5)
(B) From 650 feet below Keswick Dam to Deschutes Road bridge.
- From 650 feet below Keswick Dam to the Highway 44 bridge.
January 1 through March 31 with a bag limit of two hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead and four hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead in possession.
Closed to all fishing from April 1 to July 31.
Open from August 1 through December 31 with a bag limit of two hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead and four hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead in possession.
- From the Highway 44 bridge to the Deschutes Road bridge.
All year with a bag limit of two hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead and four hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead in possession.