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Firefighters pluck four fishermen from island in American River

One of four fishermen rescued from American River explains what happened after water flows increased

Fishing guide Anthony Langes explains what happened when he and three other anglers were taken by boat from an island below the Nimbus Dam by firefighters on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. The American River is rising as flows below the dam are increase
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Fishing guide Anthony Langes explains what happened when he and three other anglers were taken by boat from an island below the Nimbus Dam by firefighters on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. The American River is rising as flows below the dam are increase

Firefighters used a boat to remove salmon fishermen Tuesday morning from an island in the American River near Nimbus Fish Hatchery.

River flows below Nimbus Dam have increased the past few days after a wet weekend and in anticipation of a storm on Thursday.

Rescuers decided about 10:45 a.m. to use a boat to pick up the four anglers because of the swift current. The group was taken from the island and delivered safely to the shore.

Before the rescue, a siren sounded to alert the anglers and others downstream that dam floodgates would open, said Capt. Michelle Eidam, Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District spokeswoman. Eidam said a Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department deputy who was on the scene to watch the floodgates open noticed the men trying to make their way to the shore.

Eidam said the deputy yelled to the fishermen to return to the island and wait for help. One of those plucked from the island, fishing guide Anthony Langes, said that he and his fellow anglers could have waded to shore, but appreciated the caution of first responders.

“They started raising the water through the gates there,” Langes said. “So they took precaution and came out to rescue us, which we much appreciated.”

Asked how he and the other fishermen would have gotten off the island, Langes said, “Wade across. The water is only a few feet deep. It is something we are used to doing all the time. But somebody got scared. Better safe than sorry.”

“The water levels will continue to get higher,” Eidam said.

In anticipation of projected rain, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will increase water releases from Folsom Lake to 15,000 cubic feet per second on Thursday, which will cause the American River to run higher and faster than normal.

Due to rising river levels, Sacramento County officials announced that Discovery Park, along with the Howe Avenue access point and miles 0 to 3 on the American River Parkway bike trail, will be closed Wednesday through Monday morning.

Sacramento city and county departments, along with other agencies, have been working to notify people along the river about the potential for rising water. Because of the changing nature of the river, officials advise people to use caution around area waterways and to stay on high ground.

Firefighters used a boat to rescue salmon fishermen on Tuesday from an island in the American River near the Nimbus Fish Hatchery. Metro Fire spokeswoman Michelle Eidam explains.

Bee photographer Randy Pench contributed to this story.

Jessica Hice: 916-321-1550, @JesserPea

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