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California salmon is back big time

August 14, 2012|By Russ Parsons
  • Thanks to a fantastic season, diners will be able to really enjoy salmon, including with dill mayonnaise.
Thanks to a fantastic season, diners will be able to really enjoy salmon,… (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los…)

It's been a long, long haul for California's salmon fishermen. But this year has been a boom. How has the fishing been? So good they're postponing their annual salmon festival so they can stay out on the water.

The Golden Gate Salmon Assn., a group of commercial and recreational fishermen and related businesses that is dedicated to restoring the salmon fishery and habitat, announced this week that its annual fund-raising dinner originally scheduled for this weekend had been pushed back to Sept.  21.

“We regret the last-minute change,” Victor Gonella, president of the association, said in a statement. “But we are enjoying one of the best salmon seasons in years and fisherman have told us they want to stay on the water.  Who can blame them, really, after the less than stellar years of the recent past.”

"Less-than-stellar" is being kind. After peaking in 2003 with a catch that totaled more than 7 million pounds, the seasons were closed altogether in 2008 and 2009, and in 2010, the harvest was restricted to only a little more than 250,000 pounds.

The reasons for the crash were several: Postwar dam building, drought affecting farmers, pollution in the Sacramento River delta, and global warming's effects on ocean temperatures. Whatever the causes, the bottom line was that the number of young salmon heading out to sea fell from 400,000 fish in 2005 to 40,000 in 2009.

This year's population is expected to be back up to more than 800,000 -- one of the best in recent years. And for you and me, that should mean plenty of wild salmon available at grocery stores with far more reasonable prices than in recent years.

The September dinner will be held at the Sausalito Portuguese Hall, 511 Caledonia St., Sausalito. Tickets are $75 and are available at the association's website or by calling (855) 251-4472.

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