A fifty-one inch long Chinook salmon, found dead during a salmon survey in Battle Creek by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG), is probably a record for the state of California say Department biologists.
"I have counted tens of thousands of salmon during my career and this is the biggest I have ever seen," said Doug Killam DFG Associate Fisheries Biologist. "When alive, it could have weighed more than the largest Chinook officially recorded in California, an 88-pound fish caught in the Sacramento River." Usually, the salmon weigh between 20 and 30 pounds.
DFG biologists walk Battle Creek weekly to note the number of dead salmon. Since Chinook salmon die after spawning, counting the bodies allows biologists a rough idea of how many salmon spawn in each river.
After being born in rivers, the salmon take to the ocean until they are ready to spawn. Usually the salmon live in the ocean for around three or four years, but sometimes up to eight. When they return to freshwater to spawn, the always return to the river they were born in.
"Hopefully this fish was entirely successful in passing on its superior genetic potential," said Killam. "This is one of the few bright spots this year for one of California’s great sport fish, the Chinook salmon."