SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) – Northern California anglers are still hoping to see boatloads of fish in coming days as the first full-fledged commercial salmon season in three years got off to a slow start.

Some fishermen reported that salmon below the 27-inch minimum were plentiful on the season’s opening day Sunday but mature fish difficult to find.

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State wildlife officials have predicted a population of nearly 730,000 salmon in coastal waters in 2011, triple last year’s numbers.

Cancelled seasons in 2008 and 2009 and a shortened season in 2010 left many fishermen struggling to make a living.

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High fuel prices have led some anglers to postpone their first trips to sea until reports come back of better salmon catches.

The commercial salmon season runs from May through September.

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