California officials say the state could see a return to a full-length coastal salmon fishing season this year with biologists forecasting a tripling of the fish's ocean population.
Department of Fish and Game spokesman Harry Morse says the agency is projecting 729,000 salmon from the Sacramento River fall run in 2011, up from a 2010 projection of 245,000 fish.
The department announced the preliminary figure Tuesday at a meeting in Santa Rosa.
Morse says federal regulators will evaluate the data and come up with a final number to make recommendations on the length of this year's fishing season. Cancelled and limited seasons have financially devastated West Coast fishermen in recent years.
The department cautions the actual number of fish counted by the 2010 season's end was fewer than half of what was predicted.