Sláinte an bhradáin agat — Croí folláin agus gob fliuch
May you have the health of a salmon –a healthy heart and a wet mouth.
Irish blessing in Gaelic with translation
It’s the time of year when adult Chinook salmon enter San Francisco bay on their way to spawn in the upper reaches of the Sacramento River, Stanislaus River, and all with waterways up alongside the coast of Northern California. After feeding on krill (small crustacean) in the Pacific getting ready for their long trek, massive schools of salmon move under the Golden Gate into the open area known as California City, North of Angel Island and just South of San Quentin State Prison. Named originally for the Chinook peoples of Washington, Chinook Salmon are the largest of the Pacific Salmon species, and often referred to as King Salmon.
Chinook salmon making their way upstream
And, due to the selfless efforts of many to save them, the salmon are in abundance this year. Because of the drought of 2015, with such low water in the streams where the spawn, there were fear that juvenile salmon would not being able to make it down from their spawning grounds on the various rivers and tributaries to continue the cycle. Numerous organizations worked together to truck many of the juvenile salmon safely down to permit the cycle to continue. At the same time, as always, state and federal hatcheries worked hard to replenish salmon populations. It is no secret that hatcheries throughout the state bulked up to insure, as best anyone can, the continued presence of salmon in San Francisco Bay and in our favorite restaurants and stores.
Chinook salmon swimming at a local hatchery
The presence of salmon is insured with the release of salmon smolts in and leading to San Francisco Bay. Smolts are young salmon or trout, at which point they become silvery and migrate to the ocean for the first time. They will stay in the ocean for seven years, on average, growing in size and strength. Then, on average, at age 7 or so, they bulk up and travel back to the stream or river where they were started to give birth to the next generation.
Starting back in 1974, SF Tyee Club’s began raising salmon from fingerlings out of the Oroville Hatchery to smolt status, when they release them into the San Francisco Bay. Tyee Club is located in an area known by fishermen as being in “California City.” It is a holding spot for inbound salmon. From there, they make their way up the rivers, tributaries and creeks to spawn the next generation.
At this time of year, the smolts have mostly made their way out to the Pacific Ocean and the salmon run or salmon season for fishing adult salmon has begun. Needless to say, it is a great time for seeing salmon swimming in the bay near Tiburon and past California City, as well as to rivers from Redding to the Delta.
This year, the efforts of so many have been blessed not only with an abundance of Chinook and Coho salmon, but also Chum or pink salmon, much more common in Oregon and Washington. It’s unusual, but not unheard of for salmon to migrate in search of new spawning grounds. And, of course when they get here they find that there is an abundance of krill, anchovies and squid for them to eat. Insuring a health eco system insures their continue presence.
Chum salmon spotted at Lagunitas Creek
Join us on board Just Dreaming Yacht for your very own private yacht charter to watch this magnificent migration and the capture of adults in the wild for a culinary treat.
For more information, click Exploring the Bay.