Sac River Winter Chinook Numbers Look Historically Low

Collecting milt from a male winter-run Chinook salmon that is part of the Battle Creek reintroduction captive broodstock program at Livingtston Stone National Fish Hatchery located in northern California near Redding. USFWS photo/Steve Martarano

A few years back, winter-run Chinook salmon on the Sacramento River appeared to be on the upswing. But a report today suggests that the fish being counted on the trip toward the sea is rather bleak – possibly to historically low levels in what could be the worst total ever recorded.

Here’s more from the Redding Record-Searchlight:

About 149,000 young winter-run chinook salmon have made it from Redding to Red Bluff this year on their annual trek to the Pacific Ocean, according to data from the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences.

In an average year, about 1.3 million of the winter-run salmon would be counted near the former Red Bluff Diversion Dam.

This is the second-straight year the number of winter-run salmon migrating down the Sacramento River to the ocean has been very low, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Last year, only 557,652 young salmon got as far as Red Bluff. But in 2021 warm water from Shasta and Keswick dams was cited as mostly to blame for the lower numbers of fish.