New Sport Ocean Fishing Regulation Changes for 2013

New 2013-2014 Ocean Sport Fishing Regulation booklets are now available at California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) offices and wherever sport fishing licenses are sold. Anglers and divers need to be aware of a number of new fishing regulations that are in effect this year.

Regulation changes include the following: new size and bag limits for kelp bass, sand bass and spotted bass, and new at-sea fillet size requirements for these basses and ocean whitefish. Changes also include new regulations for groundfish (including rockfish), northern California marine protected areas, and sturgeon. Regulation changes are highlighted throughout the booklet for quick reference.

Effective March 1, 2013, new size, bag, and fillet size limits are in effect for kelp bass, sand bass, and spotted sand bass. Bass must now be at least 14 inches total length or 10 inches alternate length (measured from base of foremost spine of dorsal fin to longest tip of tail), and fillets must be at least 7 ½ inches long and retain a 1 inch square patch of skin when filleted at sea. The new bag limit for these basses is five fish in combination.

New marine protected areas (MPAs) are now in effect in northern California, from the California/Oregon border to Alder Creek, near Point Arena. For more information, visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa, or the MPA mobile website at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/m/MPA, or a northern California CDFW office.

New sturgeon fishing regulations established a new method of measuring sturgeon and a new size limit of 40 to 60 inches fork length (not total length, as before). Barbless hooks are required when fishing for sturgeon and snares are prohibited. Fish longer than 68 inches fork length may not be removed from the water. For more information: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=58288&inline=1

New seasons, bag and size limits, and species allowed for take have been established for groundfish. For more information: http://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/new-recreational-groundfish-regulations-effective-march-1/

Also effective March 1, 2013, fillets from ocean whitefish filleted at sea must now measure at least 6 ½ inches long, and the entire skin must remain intact.

For the complete set of new and updated ocean sport fishing regulations, CDFW recommends picking up a copy of the new 2013-2014 regulations booklet. Booklets are also available online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/sportfishing_regs2013.asp.

Media Contacts:
Mary Patyten, Marine Region, (707) 964-5026
Carrie Wilson, Communications, (831) 649-7191

DFG Surveys Salmon Anglers on Central Valley Rivers

The Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Central Valley angler surveys have begun on the American, Feather, Mokelumne and Sacramento rivers. Over the next five months, survey crews will repeatedly visit 20 different sections of river to cover the full extent of the inland salmon fishery. Survey crews count the number of boats and anglers, weigh and measure each fish caught and collect the heads of those salmon imbedded with a coded wire tag.

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“The information the survey crews collect is vital to understanding the dynamics of the salmon fishery resource and for setting seasons in the future,” said Mike Brown, a DFG environmental scientist. “The collection of salmon heads imbedded with tiny coded wire tags provides a history of how each hatchery release has fared and gives us information that can help guide salmon management in future years.”

During the 2011 Central Valley fall-run Chinook salmon sport fishery survey, crews contacted more than 4,000 fishing parties, measured 2,805 salmon and collected 652 salmon heads with coded wire tags in them. This and other baseline information were fed into a computer program that estimated the total effort and harvest of Chinook salmon in the 2011 Central Valley river sport fishery.

Those results showed approximately 60,500 salmon were caught and kept and 10,990 salmon were released for a total catch of 71,489. Seventy percent of the salmon kept were 2-year-olds, also known as “jacks.” Anglers fished on average about 14 hours to catch a salmon.

The 2012 salmon season is anticipated to be more productive than 2011.

Since 2007, 25 percent of salmon smolts released at each of the five Central Valley salmon hatcheries had their adipose fin clipped and a tiny coded wire tag inserted into the fleshy portion of their snout. Samplers check each salmon to see if its adopse fin, the small fleshy lobe on the fish’s back between the dorsal fin and the tail fin, is missing. If it is missing, the fish bears a coded wire tag.

During the survey, samplers carry large plastic bags for anglers to carry salmon after heads are removed. Upon request, the angler survey will provide the angler with a recognition letter containing information about their catch, including hatchery origin, age and release information.   Although anglers on occasion do not want samplers to take the head of their catch, most voluntarily comply once the reason for the collection is explained.

Section 8226 of the Fish and Game Code states, “Anglers upon request by an authorized agent of the Department, [must] immediately relinquish the head of the salmon to the State.”

The data collected by survey crews is essential for management of the highly popular salmon fishery.

Anglers can review a summary of the Central Valley Fall-Run Sports Fishery for 2011 at:

 http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=43505&inline=1

Media Contacts:
Mike Brown, DFG Environmental Scientist, (916) 227-4989
Harry Morse, DFG Communications, (916) 323-1478

DFG Begins New Study to Increase Survival of Out-migrating Juvenile Salmon

Department of Fish and Game (DFG) biologists are trying a new tactic to help California’s ocean-bound juvenile salmon, in hopes of increasing survival rates. On May 3, for the first time in state history, DFG staff used a boat to move approximately 100,000 young Chinook (called smolts) down the Sacramento River to San Francisco Bay. Upon arrival, the smolts were released in the Bay, where they will grow to adulthood before returning upriver to spawn.

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“We’ve been using trucks to transport smolts to points downstream for years, but we’ve never moved them by barge, and we’ve never moved them this far,” said DFG Environmental Scientist Colin Purdy, who supervised the boat transport to the Bay Area. “Truck releases are typically much further upstream, and though they do shorten the fish’s journey to the ocean, they still face all kinds of hazards in the river. It’s possible we could better the chances of survival for this species just by making a few thoughtful changes in our operating practices. The data we collect over the next few years will tell the story, but we’re hopeful that we’ll see positive results.”

Salmon return to their spawning grounds using their sense of smell. The process, called imprinting, begins before birth as waters flow over the eggs and continues as they grow and make their way to the ocean. Each segment of water on their journey has distinctive chemical cues which they can re-trace to their spawning grounds. Water is circulated through pumps from the Sacramento River into the boat’s holding tank, where the fish are kept. The hope is that this may improve their ability to find their way back as an adult and predators are unable to access the fish in the holding tank during the journey downstream.

This is the beginning of a multi-year study program aimed at increasing return rates of salmon from the sea to their native rivers. Over the next few years, scientists will use the data collected from the fish to test and evaluate the idea that overall survival rates and increased adult returns can be better achieved by barging the young salmon downstream.

To form a basis of comparison for this study, two other control groups of 100,000 smolts each were released by trucks in other locations at the same time as the barge release — one at a different location in the Bay, and one into the Sacramento River near Sacramento. All 300,000 fish in this study were implanted with coded wire tags smaller than a tiny piece of pencil lead, which will ultimately enable scientists to tell which of the three groups the returning fish came from — the barge release, or one of the two truck releases.

The study is being conducted by DFG fisheries biologists with the support of the Commercial Salmon Trollers Advisory Committee, which donated the use of the boat, fuel and crew time to help ensure a successful start to the study. They have committed to helping DFG for the next three years of data collection.

“This has been a major cooperative effort and we really appreciate DFG’s willingness to work with everybody and look at new ways of doing things,” said Zeke Grader, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen. “DFG is committed to decreasing straying rates among the salmon migrating up the Sacramento River. Barging may be one way to achieve this goal.”

Scientists hope to confirm that — unlike the usual method of transporting the fish by truck — the boat transport will both eliminate in-river hazards such as getting lost or being eaten by predators, and give the smolts a chance to imprint on their native stream on their way to the ocean, improving their chances of successful return.

Media Contacts:
Colin Purdy, DFG Region 2, (916) 358-2832
Andrew Hughan, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8944

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