Recent ‘atmospheric river’ proved catastrophic for fall salmon run in some area waterways

Sacramento News and Review

The Mokelumne River was seeing an outstanding run of fall chinook salmon at the fish hatchery when the atmospheric river hit between Oct. 24 and 25.

“We lost a lot of our fish,” said William Smith, manager of the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery. “The Cosumnes River went up to 14,000 cfs (cubic feet per second) and every creek in the region came up with the storm. As a result, the salmon scattered throughout the Valley. Meanwhile, the releases from Camanche Dam were still 250 cfs.”

He added, “The rain was a blessing for some, but not for us.”

Smith said the Mokelumne River was on pace to get 12,000 to 15,000 adult fall-run fish this season, but now there are barely 4,000 fish in the river.

“The majority of fish in the river are jacks, not adults,” he noted. “There are not even 1,000 adult females in the river now.”

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