Looking back on the year in fish

By: J.D. Richey Journal Outdoors Columnist
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Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2011! Happy New Year everyone and thanks for spending a little bit of your week with me. I sincerely appreciate it! Now, let’s take a quick look back at 2010. I guess I’d have to describe it as a bit of a roller coaster ride…an interesting year to be sure…with plenty of peaks and valleys. January Massive Storm: January kicked off with a huge storm that brought with it lots of rain, huge seas and 50 mph winds. Sound familiar? The San Mateo International Sportsmen’s Expo (R.I.P.) made its last ever appearance Jan. 14-17. DFG says you can turn in steelhead report cards online: The International Game Fish Association, after a 6-month review process, approves Japan’s Manabu Kurita’s 22-pound, 4-ounce largemouth bass as the co-world record holder for the species. Now, Perry and Kurita, 32, of Aichi, Japan, will forever be linked in history by a pair of 22-pound, 4-ounce largemouth bass. February The Pacific Marine Fisheries Council reports “The 2009 adult escapement of Central Valley Chinook Salmon is the lowest on record and continues the declining trend in escapement despite the 2008 and 2009 closures of nearly all ocean Chinook fisheries south of Cape Falcon…” Despite all of this, there is talk of a salmon season in 2010. What the?? March A sport ocean salmon season is announced and it will run most of the summer. Wallowa Lake in northwestern Oregon gives up a World Record 8.23-pound kokanee to angler Wan Teece of Enterprise, Ore. Auburn’s own Skeet Reese takes the early lead in the Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year competition. Another solid year for the man in black (and yellow) and he finishes third overall behind Kevin VanDam and Edwin Evers. A no-kill of wild steelhead regulation goes into effect on the Smith River. Finally! State Assembly member Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) introduces a bill to eradicate striped bass. Later, facing strong opposition from angling groups she comes to her senses and the bill is gutted. They’ll try again… mark my words! Due to growing concerns over the Sacramento River’s green sturgeon, a major section of the river is now closed indefinitely to all sturgeon fishing — from Keswick Dam near Redding down to the Highway 162 Bridge. April Ocean salmon opens and there’s lights out fishing in Bodega and Santa Cruz. The hot bite is fairly short lived, however. May A limited inland salmon season is officially announced. Anglers will get short windows to chase kings on the Feather, Sac and American later in the year. June California Department of Fish and Game completes a release of 16.5 million Sacramento River fall-run Chinook salmon smolts on June 15. Oregon’s Wallowa Lake gives it up again: a new all-tackle world record, 9.67-pound kokanee salmon. What are they feeding those fish up there?? The unthinkable: Alaska’s famous Kenai River is subject to emergency king salmon fishing closures due to a lack of fish. Uh-oh! July Even more unthinkable: An emergency closure on the world’s best king salmon stream: Alaska’s Nushagak River due to low returns. Less than a year after a new record for brown trout was taken in Michigan, a 41-pound, 8 ouncer is caught by Roger Hellen of Franksville, Wisc. A whole lot of ugly: Greg Bernal of Florissant, Mo. nabs a 130-pound giant blue cat (think about that one for a minute… 130 pounds of catfish) while fishing on the Missouri River, out of North County, Mo. with an Asian carp for bait. I’m referring to the fish’s looks, not Greg’s. August Professional bass angler Mike Hart of Winnetka, Calif. is caught weighing in bass stuffed with lead sinkers Wednesday during the WON BASS U.S. Open at Lake Mead, Nev. He’s banned for life. The first salmon season in three years concludes on the Feather River. Fishing was brutal except for the final few days. September The white sea bass are on like Donkey Kong in Monterey. Grab your surfboard, kayak, skiff or whatever and get out there! Salmon season on the Sacramento River below Knights Landing proves that there aren’t a whole heck of a lot of salmon this year either. October Late in the month, the American River opens to salmon fishing. Fishing’s tough overall, though there are a few fish caught opening week. The first rains hit the Smith River and guide John Klar gets a 61-pound Chinook. This starts a month plus of really good fishing. November Giants win the World Series… Need I say more? After a couple weeks of 70-degree weather, it starts raining in Nor Cal seemingly every day. December It’s still raining a lot! A new study shows that Delta fish are in decline (duh!) Black kokanee salmon, supposedly extinct for over 70 years, are found still living in a lake near Mount Fuji, Japan. J.D. Richey is a 1986 Placer High graduate whose outdoors pieces have been published nationally. Find him online at