Striped Bass vs. Salmon – The Ukiah Daily Journal


Looking at the photo of this huge Striper, it made me think of the “good old days” of Striper fishing at Lake Mendocino. (Drainocino) My personal best for a Striper is 37 pounds. I hung it in the early 1980s.

(There is a life.) Anyway, it got me thinking about hitching up the bass boat and crossing the Sacramento River to try my luck..?

While searching online for fishing reports, I found this article written a few days ago by Mike’s Fishing Guide Service and thought I would share it with you all. This is a good read……..

This is a reminder for those of you who think striped bass have no effect on migrating chinook salmon and rainbow trout in the Sacramento River. The argument of coexistence between the two species has been the subject of much debate in recent years. As an angler who feels biased towards one species or the other, voice their opinion on the matter. First, let me say that “coexistence” (both species existing together in the Sacramento River with a high number of races. Since the introduction of stripers to the West Coast in 1891) was based on conditions different rivers as they currently exist. Historically, there was much more water available in the Sacramento River. Many of the river’s conditions and variables have changed dramatically over the past two decades. Due to California’s severe drought conditions. At the same time, a much greater demand for water diversion. Keeping our $50 billion agriculture industry hydrated. With water in the homes of our States of more than 40 million inhabitants. Concerning the dynamics of which the two anadromous species successfully coexisted, becomes a delicate subject. This fishing blog is not about pitting Stripers against Salmon and Steelhead. Rather, the amount of salmon returning to the Sacramento River would likely be higher if the release practices of these hatcheries were temporarily changed. When they leave. Simulate brief conditions similar to those of historical coexistence. Some anglers may not be aware that hatcheries consider the impact of predation on hatchery salmonids released as juveniles. During their migration from the Sacramento River to the Pacific Ocean.

Although research biologist Hatchery reports losses caused by predation. When setting the estimated return of adult Chinook Salmon and Rainbow Trout. This does not mitigate the fact that if the timing of the release was made to coincide with a discharge from high river levels. Many more salmon and rainbow trout would return to our river system as adults. For example, let’s say a hatchery raises 12 million baby salmon. With an average adult return of 1% in three years (average life cycle of Chinook Salmon and Rainbow Trout). It would be expected that 120,000 adult Chinook salmon would return to the river to spawn as adults. The Sacramento River’s only fish hatchery hasn’t been able to meet its one percent goal for the past decade. Realistically, the percentage of an adult Chinook salmon returning is usually between 0.6% and 0.8%. So out of the 12,000,000 eggs raised annually by the hatchery. We can unfortunately assume that only 60,000 to 80,000 of these salmon will return to spawn as adults. Coleman National Fish Hatchery (the only hatchery on the Sacramento River) has a target number of 12,000 breeding pairs of adult Chinook salmon. Thus, they can raise and release a target number of 12,000,000 juveniles. Trying to hit their target percentage of one percent. To come back in three years as an adult. 120,000 returning adults is theoretically the target number for federally run hatcheries. What the Federal Hatchery has been unable to produce for some time. Over the past decade, the number of returning adult chinook salmon in the Sacramento River has declined dramatically year over year.

Do striped bass in the Sacramento River and California Delta consume all hatchery-raised salmon and rainbow trout? No! They do! The extent to which stripe predation exerts on any given age class of hatchery juvenile salmon or rainbow trout is frankly unknown. It is likely that there will be a very large increase from one year to the next. Based on current river conditions. What is known is that juveniles are released under low river conditions. Suffer a much greater loss than juveniles released in conjunction with rising river waters. Caused by rain. Which there hasn’t been much to say about in the Golden State in recent years.

Allow the highly intelligent and adaptable striped bass to take advantage of these hatchery releases. Gathering in the narrow funnels and choke points of the geographical features of the river. Consuming these precious juveniles throughout the river system. Spring, summer, fall and winter!

FACTS! If juvenile salmon were released into the Sacramento River, accompanied by a pulsating flow of water from the Shasta Lake store, our salmon runs would certainly be greater. Stripers do not play well with other species of fish. They have been known to exploit their food sources (such as baby chinook salmon) until the sources are completely wiped out. Stripers are good at hunting together and eating 24 hours a day. I have personally witnessed these slaughters many, many times. While guiding on the Sacramento River during hatchery release times. Being on the river more than the department biologist and research teams. Provides first-hand accounts and eyewitness accounts of stripes feeding on salmonids. Better understand the eating habits of strippers. As they exploit their preferred food source.

To sum it up for those who see all the mixed messages on social media and their comment trends on this topic.

1)- Salmon and striped bass have co-existed for over 100 years (under many different conditions).

2)- Stripers may actually play an important role in the predation of hatchery-reared juvenile Chinook salmon.

3)- Californian fishermen would certainly have more salmon to catch if striped bass predation were limited or reduced at the time of release. Facts!

4)-To what degree or percentage of loss tracers are responsible. Is undocumented and unknown, even in present times.

5)-Sacramento River water levels and water distribution. Determine the impact of striped bass on migrating juvenile salmon.

6)-In California’s current catastrophic drought situation. It is likely that nothing will change between the relationship between chinook salmon and the share of striped bass on the Sacramento River.

Mike’s Fishing Guide Service for the Sacramento River

One person’s comment to this article is as follows;

Why don’t hatcheries release more than 12 million? If others are released, others will return. If stripes are to blame for the decline of salmon here, why not on the east coast as well? I have been fishing stripers for over 2 decades and have caught thousands of them and rarely have I caught one with a baby salmon most of the time they had blue gills or smelt and crayfish in them . I think the seals are a bigger problem. I saw them with striped sturgeon and salmon high up in the delta system. Seals need to be brought down to a manageable level so they don’t come up river where they don’t belong.

All good food for thought!

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to keep the reel Don – 4REEL Fishin’


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