Last spring I was so happy to help rescue salmonoids trapped by high flows. The critically endangered winter run chinook were hard to come by and a joy to return to the river. I had no idea that the very next fall our strongest chinook run (king salmon), the fall run, would be so absent. It's December and I've not seen one jump. I heard one jump behind me though I didn't catch it in my view. I've not seen a mating pair. The river has felt strangely empty. There's been an absurd type of void in movement when I've been in or on the #sacramentoriver
So many years, so many lost eggs, low water and hot water, followed by an over abundance of water. What are the long term effects of cutting off access to 200 plus miles of prime, cold water spawning grounds, leaving only a 5 mile stretch the chinook prefer for spawning and then de-watering the reds for the entire multi-year life cycle of the salmon?
We've been gifted with 4 genetically different salmon species, with the winter run being the only run of it's kind in the world. I've thrown waders on previously, a kid over my back, trying to let them get a look at these magnificent creatures. That kind of piggybacking wasn't even an option this fall. My kids know the chinook from textbooks, not time spent near the river. It makes me sad. What kind of account will we give for the beautiful fish we've been handed? Why are salmon fished all the way up the river until being protected at their spawning grounds? They didn't really even make it here to spawn. Barely, if that. Why are we fishing them at all? Will next year be better? The next run? What can be done? These are just questions I ponder.
I don't know, but I do care. I will never underestimate resilience and comebacks. Hope is a wonderful word. I'm wondering how we partner with the things that will bring restoration to this beautiful gift of a fishery.
In the meantime, I'm enjoying our beautiful rainbows. This is my river and I love it.