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Salmon unable to find their way home to Coleman Hatchery

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ANDERSON, Calif. - Salmon coming from the Pacific Ocean were unable to find their way back to the Sacramento River after they were trucked to the ocean due to drought conditions.

The Coleman National Fish Hatchery is now dealing with the repercussions.

"It's a gem of the Northstate, you can come out here in October and see thousands of fish out here in Battle Creek and there's a lot of people that depend on their livelihood or they go fishing for their entertainment," said Project Leader at Coleman, Brett Galyean. "I think if you're not concerned about salmon, then there might be another species that you will be concerned about. So, I think it's definitely very important." 

In April 2014, 4 million Fall-run Chinook Salmon were released from Coleman National Fish Hatchery and 8 million were put on a truck and taken up to San Francisco Bay via highway. The drought had lowered water levels and experts were concerned the fish wouldn't survive in the warmer water.

The following year, they trucked all 12 million salmon. The problem with trucking salmon, is that the fish miss the imprinting stage. So, they become lost on the swim back.

When trucking fish, it is expected that the numbers will be down when they return. The decrease this year, however, was more than expected.

This year, 5,500 salmon returned to Coleman National Fish Hatchery. With those fish, they were able to make 6 million eggs. The goal was double that. The past few years they've released 12 million fish in April.

However, they believe if they would have released the fish into the low rivers instead of trucking, many more fish would have been lost. 

Galyean said given a wet Spring, the numbers should go back up and there likely won't be any bans on Fall Chinook this fishing season. 

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