Calif. salmon fisherman hopeful ahead of season

April 17, 2011 5:49:03 PM PDT
After three years without a real salmon catch, commercial fishermen are hoping this year puts them back in business.

The season is just two weeks away, but fishermen already have concerns about what may be in store. Silence at the piers during salmon season has become all too familiar. California has not had a real season in years and fishermen are desperate for a change.

"If crab season's any indication, there's been people lined all the way up the pier in line to buy crab from the first boat that comes in. Hopefully it'll be the same way during salmon season," said Rob Krancke.

With crab season in its final days, commercial fishermen are gearing up to head out May 1 for a long-overdue salmon catch. Record low salmon migration to the Sacramento River had forced a virtual shutdown of the industry, but fisheries regulators say this could be the most fruitful season in years. An estimated 730,000 salmon are expected to return, but not everyone is convinced the fishermen will find them

"We got guys going all over the place to try and find them," one Jim Anderson told ABC7 laughingly.

That may be easier said than done. With skyrocketing fuel costs, Anderson spends $1,200 to fill his boat "Allaine." Fishermen no longer have the luxury of time or money to wait for a bite.

"That's where the real concern lies, is the guys who can't afford to go scout and go traveling around looking for fish. They're just kind of stuck at the dock waiting for somebody to find fish, and then the whole fleet will bolt," Anderson explained.

So far, sport fishermen already in their salmon season are coming back empty handed. They predict the commercial season could be rough.

"Well, so far, we have some very, very good fishermen fishing out of here that know what they're doing, and they're not finding them," Jack Gross said.

It is not just the fisherman anxious for a new beginning. Those who sell salmon and those who love to eat it are ready too.

"I don't think I could really put it into dollar amounts. We've survived, but it's had an effect. It's been tough," said Randy Haake at the Princeton Seafood Company.


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