The 2012 king salmon commercial fishing season was the best in California in nearly a decade, according to a new report that also offers hope for good trolling in 2013.
The analysis by the Pacific Fishery Management Council shows 214,808 Chinook salmon were unloaded at California docks in 2012, the most since 340,862 came ashore in 2005.
The fish were particularly abundant in the Klamath River south of the Oregon border, where nearly 178,000 adult salmon returned from the ocean during the fall and slipped past Indian-tribe fishermen to reach their spawning grounds. The tribes caught about 115,000 of the salmon, a higher number than any year in recent memory.
"The returns in the Klamath were huge," said Mike Burner, an analyst for the council, which oversees salmon fisheries in California, Oregon and Washington.
The escapement, or spawning, figures for the Bay Area were not as dazzling, but represent a big improvement over the lean years of 2007-2011, a period that saw two canceled seasons. The report found that 162,915 adult fall-run salmon returned to the Sacramento River, the most since 2006.
The council has yet to release its estimates for the 2013 season, but figures in the 2012 report for the number of male salmon that returned prematurely to spawn are somewhat encouraging. About 17,500 of these fish, known as jacks, returned to the Sacramento River in 2012, the second-highest total since 2004 but below average compared
The number of jacks that return to their rivers of origin is often an indicator of how many remain in the ocean to be caught the following season.
The council's data for 2012, released this month, remains preliminary.
Contact Aaron Kinney at 650-348-4357. Follow him at Twitter.com/kinneytimes.