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Virus Contributes To Possible Big California Salmon Season

Mike Hudson unloads chinook salmon off his boat at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. July 22, 2019.
Mike Hudson unloads chinook salmon off his boat at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. July 22, 2019.

Anglers and biologists believe California is likely to experience an increase of chinook salmon during the fall run resulting from the coronavirus and fewer fish caught over the summer.

The annual migration is expected to peak in September, The San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday.

State and federal scientists earlier this year forecast 473,200 adult salmon off the San Francisco Bay Area coast from the Sacramento River system, a big jump from 380,000 last year and 224,000 in 2018.


The route spanning the Marin Coast through the Golden Gate, Bay-Delta and up the Sacramento River is known as the "Salmon Highway.”

The region could experience a “traffic jam” of chinook, also called king salmon, in the coming month, said Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Live Bait in San Rafael.

“We just had a half dozen fish come in on the Salmon Highway (on San Francisco Bay)," Fraser said.

The season was delayed from its scheduled opening in early April to mid-June, with more than two months of fishing shut down.

During that time, salmon continued to roam the ocean and feed on this year’s abundant supply of krill, squid and juvenile anchovies.


“The outlook for Sacramento River fall Chinook salmon is better than last year,” environmental scientist Jennifer Simon wrote in a report for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.