It’s official; a new record for the number of steelhead returning to the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery in one season has been set. The hatchery has received 530 adults and 638 juveniles this year to date, a total of 1,168 fish. That compares to 719 adults and 402 juveniles last season, a total of 1,121 fish.
“We’re still spawning and taking eggs,” said William Smith, the manager of the hatchery. “We’ve taken over 1 million eggs to date. Our goal is to raise 250,000 steelhead smolts for release into the river next year.”
He plans to keep the hatchery open into the first week of March, since fresh steelhead are still arriving every week, with 15 new fish reported last week.
The hatchery has taken over 1 million steelhead eggs more than enough to make sure they meet their production goal of 250,000 steelhead smolts.
Over the next month, The CDFW will be releasing 300,000 6 to 8-inch steelhead smolts in the Mokelumne below Camanche Dam.
Experienced anglers fishing below the hatchery continue to battle some quality steelhead and wild trout. “One guy who has been fishing three to four days per week has been catching and releasing around three fish per day in the 18- to 24-inch range while using flies,” said Smith.
The big steelhead run follows a record salmon run. A total of 19,904 fall Chinook salmon went over Woodbridge Dam in the fall of 2017.
The factors behind the record steelhead and salmon runs include stronger river pulse flows, closures of the Delta Cross Channel gates, the use of tagging data to increase fish survival, barging salmon, habitat improvements and the 1998 Lower Mokelumne River Settlement Agreement.
You can thank the CDFW, East Bay Municipal Utility District, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and Committee to Save the Mokelumne for their hard work in restoring the river’s fisheries.
General information: (209) 759-3383. Fishing regulations information: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?
While a record number of Chinook salmon returned to the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery in the fall of 2017 and good numbers of salmon returned to the Feather River Fish Hatchery, a below normal number of salmon came back to Nimbus Fish Hatchery on the American River and one of the lowest numbers of fall run Chinooks ever returned to Coleman Fish Hatchery on Battle Creek and the upper section of the Sacramento River.