Ocean salmon anglers across the California coast will be able to spend more time on the water this year chasing after King Salmon (also known as Chinook Salmon). At its meeting this week in Rohnert Park, the Pacific Fishery Management Council finalized and adopted ocean salmon seasons beginning on or after May 1 through the remainder of the year. Sport fisheries in the Klamath Management Zone Sport fisheries in the Klamath Management Zone will open from late May through early Sept. Fort Bragg and San Francisco areas are currently open; they will close for the first half of May, then reopen and continue through the end of Oct. The Monterey management area is open now and remains open through late Aug.
Despite an increase in fishing opportunity this year, ocean salmon season lengths were cut short in certain areas to limit harvest of Sacramento River fall Chinook, the main stock supporting California’s ocean fishery. Under the terms of the federal Salmon Fishery Management Plan, this stock has been classified as “overfished” following low returns of spawning adults in recent years. In an effort to hasten the rebuilding process, the council made the decision to limit the fishery so that a greater number of adult fish return to the river to spawn this fall.
The 2019 recreational ocean salmon season dates for the California coast are as follows:
In the Klamath Management Zone, which is the area between the Oregon/California border and Horse Mountain (40°05’00” N. latitude), the season will open May 25 and continue through Sept. 2.
The Fort Bragg and San Francisco areas, which extend from Horse Mountain to Point Arena (38°57’30” N. latitude) and Point Arena to Pigeon Point (37°11’00” N. latitude), respectively, opened April 13. Fishing will close on April 30, then reopen on May 18 and continue through October 31.
The Monterey area between Pigeon Point and the U.S./Mexico border opened April 6 and will continue through Aug. 28.
The minimum size limit is 20 inches total length in all areas north of Point Arena. In the San Francisco area, the minimum size limit is 24 inches total length through April 30, then 20 inches total length thereafter. In the Monterey area the minimum size limit is 24 inches total length. The daily bag limit is two Chinook Salmon per day. 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. Retention of Coho Salmon (also known as Silver Salmon) is prohibited in all ocean fisheries off California.
In addition to protecting Sacramento River fall Chinook, the season dates and size limit restrictions in combination also serve to minimize impacts of the ocean salmon fishery on ESA-listed Sacramento River winter Chinook and California Coastal Chinook stocks, as required by federal law.
For more information about ocean salmon seasons and the ocean salmon management process, visit the Ocean Salmon Seasons web page in the California DFW web site.
Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.