Fall Species Watch: Chinook Salmon
By CDFW Fisheries Branch Contributor
Chinook salmon are the largest species of Pacific salmon. They exhibit an anadromous life history, which means that they hatch and grow in fresh water and then migrate to the ocean as juveniles. There they feed and grow to maturity for anywhere from two to four years, sometimes longer. Adult salmon will then migrate from the ocean to their natal freshwater stream to spawn, and the cycle continues.
Hundreds of miles of coastline and rivers in California provide ample opportunities to fish for Chinook salmon. Fishing ports between Monterey and Crescent City allow excellent access to fishing grounds where anglers are successful trolling flashers with spoons, hoochies or anchovies. Fishing for salmon in the ocean is particularly hot in the San Francisco and Bodega bay regions.
Inland salmon fishing provides greater opportunities for shore fishing, as well as hundreds of miles of rivers to fish from boats. Because stream flow, depths and access vary by location, inland fishing methods are diverse. Shore anglers generally drift fish using brightly colored spinners, beads and roe, while boat fishing methods include jigging, plug fishing, back trolling spinners, drifting roe and trolling with spinners and flatfish. Inland salmon fishing is hot on the Sacramento River between the city of Benicia and the confluence with Battle Creek near the city of Red Bluff. Shore anglers have a good chance to catch salmon on the Feather River at the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet, on the American River at Sailor Bar and on Suisun Bay at the First Street Peninsula in Benicia and on the bayside waterfront at Benicia State Recreation Area.
Fishing seasons, bag limits and gear restrictions are geographically and temporally different, so be sure to consult your supplemental sportfishing regulations (PDF) prior to your fishing trip.