On Tuesday, May 1, the recreational ocean salmon fishery will open in the area between Horse Mountain to the Oregon/California state line including Humboldt Bay. This fishery will remain open through Sept. 9. Though ocean salmon fishing south of Horse Mountain opened on April 7, the May 1 date is the earliest opening in this northern area since the early 1990s.
“The large population of salmon predicted in the ocean will provide California’s recreational anglers with considerable opportunity to pursue one of California’s most iconic fish species.” said the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Marija Vojkovich, Regional Manager for DFG’s Marine Region and California’s state representative on the PFMC.
In the fall of 2011, record numbers of “jack” Chinook salmon returned to spawn in the Central Valley and Klamath-Trinity basins. High numbers of “jack” returns are a good indication that large populations of adult salmon remain in the ocean and will be available to anglers in the upcoming season. Even with a more conservative approach to estimating the ocean population, fishery biologists expect about two million Chinook salmon will be in California coastal waters through the summer.
While ocean populations for Central Valley and Klamath-Trinity basin Chinook are forecasted to be very high, potential catch of endangered Sacramento River Winter Chinook and threatened California Coastal Chinook salmon were taken into consideration by the Pacific Fishery Management Council and Fish and Game Commission when setting salmon seasons last month. Fishery constraints to protect winter Chinook affected the minimum size limit in effect south of Point Arena while protections for California Coastal Chinook were applied primarily to the commercial fishery along the northern coast.
The coast-wide recreational daily bag and possession limit is two salmon of any species except coho. The minimum size limit is 20 inches total length between the Oregon/California state line and Point Arena (38° 57’ 30” N. latitude). For all areas south of Point Arena, the minimum size limit is 24 inches total length through July 5, and 20 inches total length thereafter. The fishery closes south of Pigeon Point on Oct. 7 and between Pigeon Point and Horse Mountain on Nov. 11.
For anglers fishing north of Point Conception, no more than two single-point, single-shank barbless hooks shall be used and no more than one rod 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.
For complete ocean salmon regulations, please visit the Ocean Salmon webpage at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/oceansalmon.asp or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline (707) 576-3429. The final 2012 ocean salmon regulations will be published in the DFG 2012 supplemental fishing regulations booklet available in May at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations.
photo: California Fish and Game Commission