Although fishing season in four California counties has been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife did not provide refunds to fishing license. That’s because the money from licenses provides crucial funding for conservation efforts for fish species in the state. And those efforts were on full display this week.
The CDFW released 1.6 million fall run Chinook salmon smolts from the Nimbus Fish Hatchery into the lower American River on Wednesday, a significant effort to restore salmon populations in NorCal tributaries. The release included 14 tankers full of salmon smolts.
In a process helpful to tracking the salmon, 25 percent of the fish had their adipose fins clipped and were outfitted with coded wire tags, which will help identify them by salmon anglers, biologists and hatchery staff if they’re caught or return to the American River in a few years to spawn.
Salmon possess the extraordinary ability to sense their native rivers from more than a thousand miles away in the open ocean. When it is time to spawn, they need no directions. Humans have tried and failed to understand this without success, and even the best GPS units cannot compare with a steelhead’s innate ability to find home. Every salmon knows where home is.