The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announces the recreational ocean salmon season in the Klamath Management Zone (KMZ), the area between the Oregon/California border and Horse Mountain (40° 05’ 00” N. latitude), will open May 16, making all ocean waters in California available to salmon fishing. The season will continue through May 31 and reopen June 16-30, July 16-Aug. 16, and Sept. 1-5 with a 20-inch minimum size limit.
Anglers fishing in the KMZ should be conscious of closures at the mouths of the Klamath and Smith rivers throughout the season, as well as a closure at the mouth of the Eel River during August and September. See California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.75 for complete river mouth closure information.
In the Fort Bragg area, which extends from Horse Mountain to Point Arena (38° 57’ 30” N. latitude), the season will remain open through Nov. 13 with a 20-inch minimum size limit. In the San Francisco area, which extends from Point Arena to Pigeon Point (37° 11’ 00” N. latitude), the season will continue through Oct. 31 with a 24-inch minimum size limit through April 30 and 20-inches thereafter. In the Monterey area between Pigeon Point and Point Sur (36° 18’ 00” N. latitude) the season will continue through July 15 while areas south of Point Sur will continue through May 31. The minimum size limit in Monterey and areas south is 24-inches total length.
CDFW and the Pacific Fishery Management Council have constructed ocean salmon seasons to reduce fishery-related impacts on endangered Sacramento River winter Chinook. Drought conditions and unsuitable water temperatures in the upper Sacramento River led to greater than 95 percent mortality of juvenile brood year 2014 and 2015 winter-run Chinook. Coupled with abnormally warm and unproductive ocean conditions, fisheries managers and industry representatives chose to take additional protections beyond those required by the Endangered Species Act biological opinion and harvest control rule.
Available ocean data suggest that winter-run Chinook are concentrated south of Pigeon Point, especially south of Point Sur, during the late summer and early fall. Strategic closures and size limit restrictions implemented in the San Francisco and Monterey management areas are intended to minimize harvest and catch-and-release mortality of winter-run Chinook.
The daily bag limit is two Chinook per day and no more than two daily bag limits may be possessed when on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit.
For anglers fishing north of Point Conception (34° 27’ 00” N. latitude), no more than two single-point, single-shank barbless hooks shall be used, and no more than one rod may be used per angler when fishing for salmon or fishing from a boat with salmon on board. In addition, barbless circle hooks are required when fishing with bait by any means other than trolling between Horse Mountain and Point Conception.
CDFW reminds anglers that retention of coho salmon is prohibited in all ocean fisheries.
Final sport regulations will be published in the CDFW 2016 Supplemental Fishing Regulations booklet available in May at www.wildlife.ca.gov/regulations. For complete ocean salmon regulations, please visit CDFW’s ocean salmon webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429.