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Despite dry year, Mokelumne River teeming with salmon

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25800 North Mcintire Road Clements CA

Posted: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 12:00 am

Despite the lack of rainfall in Northern California this year, the Mokelumne River’s salmon run is about as plentiful as it was in 2012 — 2,500 salmon have found their way through the fish hatchery at Lake Camanche.

So if you want to check out the salmon, they’ll be at the fish hatchery a while longer.

“So far, we’ve spotted about 2,500 fish at the hatchery, about the same as last year,” said Eric Barrow, an office technician for the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We’re grateful.”

The plentiful salmon numbers are due to extremely rainy conditions in November and Dec. 2012, according to Abby Figueroa, a spokeswoman for the East Bay Municipal Utility District, which holds a majority of the Mokelumne River’s water rights.

But if the weather continues to be as dry as it has been for most of the 2013 calendar year, we can expect a smaller number of salmon next year, Figueroa said.

When salmon swim upstream on the Mokelumne each year from the San Francisco Bay, workers at the fish hatchery kill the females, slice open their bellies and harvest the eggs. They also harvest milt, or sperm, from the males, which is mixed with the eggs.

“We fertilize the eggs and raise them,” he said. “We keep them here about nine months and bring them back to the Delta.”

Hatchery workers will fertilize the eggs from about 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Thursday and then on Nov. 25 and Nov. 27, Barrow said.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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