All posts by ahughan

Recreational Ocean Salmon Seasons Opening in June

Additional sections of the California coast will open up to recreational ocean salmon fishing in June. In the Klamath Management Zone, which is the area between the Oregon/California state line and Horse Mountain (40° 05’ 00” N. latitude), the season will open June 1 and continue through Sept. 3, 2018. 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, will open June 17 and continue through Oct. 31, 2018. The Monterey area between Pigeon Point and the U.S./Mexico Border opened on Apr. 7 and will continue through July 2, 2018.

Shorter recreational ocean seasons in 2018 are the result of two key California salmon stocks attaining ‘overfished’ status this year. Both Sacramento River fall Chinook and Klamath River fall Chinook have experienced three successive years of poor adult returns, in response to the drought and poor conditions for survival.

The minimum size limit is 20 inches total length in all areas north of Pigeon Point and 24 inches in all areas south of Pigeon Point. 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 2019, the recreational ocean salmon season will open Apr. 6 south of Horse Mountain. The minimum size limit will be 20 inches total length in the area from Horse Mountain to Point Arena and 24 inches total length in all areas south of Point Arena. The daily bag limit will be two Chinook salmon per day. The remainder of the 2019 ocean salmon season will be decided at the PFMC meeting in April 2019.

For the first time, state ocean salmon regulations will automatically conform to federal regulations using the new process described in the California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 1.95.  Federal regulations for ocean salmon were published in the Federal Register (83 FR 19005) on May 1, 2018, and are effective as of May 1, 2018.

Public notification of any in-season change is made through the National Marine Fisheries Service Ocean Salmon Hotline. Before engaging in any fishing activity for ocean salmon, please check one of the following resources for the most up-to-date information:

  • CDFW website, www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon
  • National Marine Fisheries Service Ocean Salmon Hotline, (800) 662-9825
  • CDFW Ocean Salmon Hotline, (707) 576-3429

 

Media Contacts:
Kandice Morgenstern, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2879
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

Fillmore Trout Hatchery Temporarily Closed to Public for Scheduled Maintenance

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Fillmore Trout Hatchery in eastern Ventura County will be closed to the public approximately four months beginning May 4, while the facility undergoes maintenance and repairs. All of the rainbow trout normally raised at the Fillmore Trout Hatchery have been moved to the Mojave River Hatchery in San Bernardino County to accommodate the necessary work.

The Mojave River Hatchery underwent extensive maintenance and upgrades in 2017 and is now open to the public. The hatchery is again growing and stocking trout to approved waters in Southern California. With the Mojave River Hatchery back online, trout production and distribution is forecast to improve significantly for Southern California in 2018. It is now the Fillmore Trout Hatchery’s turn for facilities work and the Mojave River Hatchery has adequate room to raise fish for the Fillmore Trout Hatchery for the next few months.

As with the Mojave River Hatchery, the maintenance scheduled for the Fillmore Trout Hatchery will result in increased efficiencies and better trout production. The Fillmore Trout Hatchery has been in service to the public for 78 years. The maintenance and repairs scheduled include improving capability of the aeration tower, pressure washing and epoxy coating of the rearing ponds, plumbing upgrades, water and electrical use efficiencies, enhanced public outreach and educational materials for visitors and grounds work.

During the closure, Fillmore Trout Hatchery staff will perform maintenance and repairs to the raceways, buildings and equipment. Once the repair projects are complete, the hatchery will begin to receive fish and will again open to the public. CDFW estimates reopening in September or October.

For a list of fish plants, please see CDFW’s Fish Planting Schedule.

Media Contacts:
Matt Norris, CDFW Desert Region, (760) 938-2242
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

Recreational Salmon Seasons Set for 2018

The recreational salmon seasons have been set for 2018, and it appears to be a mixture of good news and bad for California anglers. Klamath River fall run Chinook are likely to be one of the better fishing opportunities due to higher returns that will support both ocean and inland salmon seasons. But returns for Sacramento River fall run Chinook – the main stock of salmon supporting California’s ocean and Central Valley river fisheries – have been low for the third consecutive year, pushing them into “overfished” status.

In order to meet conservation goals for Sacramento River fall run Chinook, some ocean salmon seasons have been shortened and the daily bag and possession limits for Central Valley river fisheries have been reduced.

“The goal is to get even more fish back to the spawning grounds this fall than would be required in a normal year,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Fisheries Branch Chief Kevin Shaffer.

In an effort to hasten the rebuilding process, the Pacific Fishery Management Council constructed conservative ocean salmon seasons for 2018, in the hopes of producing higher numbers of returning spawners. The California Fish and Game Commission set similar ocean seasons.

The 2018 recreational ocean salmon season for the California coast is 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 June 1 and continue through Sept. 3.
  • 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, will open June 17 and continue through Oct. 31.
  • The Monterey area between Pigeon Point and the U.S./Mexico border opened on April 7 and will continue through July 2.

The minimum size limit is 20 inches total length in all areas north of Pigeon Point and 24 inches in all areas south of Pigeon Point. 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.

The 2018 recreational inland salmon season for California inland waters is as follows:

  • Seasons for Central Valley fishery start on traditional dates on all sections of all rivers. Only one salmon per day may be retained and the possession limit is two salmon.
  • In the Klamath River the season will open Aug. 15 and continue through Dec. 31. The Trinity River season will be open from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31. The daily bag limit is two salmon no more than one over 22 inches. The possession limit is six salmon, no more than three over 22 inches.

Regulations approved by the Commission since the 2017 season created a positive effect for the upcoming Central Valley salmon season. The new regulations – including a complete closure of Nimbus Basin on the American River to all fishing due to construction, a reduction in the daily bag and possession limit for the Central Valley, and a shortened leader length regulation intended to reduce snagging – were pivotal in setting seasons on the Sacramento River fall Chinook because they helped reduced potential harvest to meet stock rebuilding goals.

The 2018 sport seasons, dates, locations and bag limits will be published in the 2018-2019 Sport Fishing Regulations Supplement, which will be posted on the CDFW website in May. Additional season information can be found on CDFW’s ocean salmon webpage or by calling CDFW’s ocean salmon hotline at (707) 576-3429 or the Klamath-Trinity River hotline at (800) 564-6479.

Media Contacts:
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958
Kandice Morgenstern, CDFW Ocean Salmon Project, (707) 576-2879
Roger Bloom, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 445-3777

Thousands of Steelhead Released into Oroville Afterbay This Week

During the first week of April, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Feather River Hatchery will stock 51,800 yearling steelhead into the Thermalito Afterbay near Oroville.  This is the second juvenile steelhead release of the year and brings the total number of steelhead stocked in the Afterbay this season to 234,000.

The practice of stocking the Afterbay with steelhead that are in excess of the Feather River allotment of 400,000 fish started in 2006 and has been very successful when the fish are available.

“The Afterbay grows fish,” explained CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Supervisor Jay Rowan.  “It’s a highly productive habitat with acres of shallow weed beds that produce huge insect hatches in the spring and summer.”

While these fish are going in at only 1/4 pound each, the juvenile steelhead will take advantage of these insect hatches and grow to catchable sizes quickly.  Twenty to 24-inch fish are common later in the summer and fall.

“It is really great to be able to provide an additional fishing opportunity for the community, especially one that is accessible to shore anglers,” said Feather River Hatchery Manager Anna Kastner. “When the fishing is good, people will line up along the banks to catch these steelhead.”

The Feather River Hatchery has also stocked 303 hatchery steelhead kelts to the Thermalito Afterbay this year which provides an additional trophy fishing opportunity. The kelt program uses male hatchery steelhead that have returned from the ocean to the hatchery to spawn. Their milt is first used to fertilize eggs at the hatchery for the next generation of steelhead.  The fish are then reconditioned and put in the Afterbay for anglers to catch. There are concerns that putting hatchery-produced males back in the river after they have been spawned at the hatchery could allow certain family groups to be overrepresented if that fish spawns again in the wild, which could potentially lead to inbreeding.  Moving kelts to the Afterbay solves that problem, with the added bonus of providing another fishery for anglers.

Media Contacts:
Anna Kastner, CDFW Central Region, (530) 538-2222|
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Volunteers Needed for Bighorn Sheep Survey

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Society for Conservation of Bighorn Sheep (SCBS) are seeking volunteers to assist biologists with a sheep count in the San Gabriel Mountains on March 3 and 4, 2018 (Saturday evening and all day Sunday).

No survey experience is necessary to participate but volunteers must attend an orientation on Saturday, March 3, at 6 p.m. at the Angeles National Forest Supervisor’s Office in Arcadia.

Volunteers will hike to designated observation sites early Sunday morning to count and record bighorn sheep. Volunteer groups will be led by a representative from CDFW, USFS or SCBS. Participants must be at least 16 years old and capable of hiking at least one mile in rugged terrain (most survey routes are longer). In general, hikes will not be along trails and accessing survey points will involve scrambling over boulders, climbing up steep slopes and/or bush-whacking through chaparral.

Volunteers are encouraged to bring binoculars or spotting scopes in addition to hiking gear. Mountain weather can be unpredictable and participants should be prepared to spend several hours hiking and additional time making observations in cold and windy weather. Volunteers will need to start hiking early Sunday morning.

Surveys for bighorn sheep in the San Gabriel range have been conducted annually since 1979. The mountain range once held an estimated 740 sheep, which made the San Gabriel population the largest population of desert bighorn sheep in California. The bighorn population declined over 80 percent through the 1980s but appears to be on the rise with recent estimates yielding approximately 400 animals.

Please sign up online at www.sangabrielbighorn.org. If you do not have access to the internet, you may call (909) 584-9012 and leave a call-back number to register.

This annual event is always popular and fills up quickly.  Please sign up soon to ensure a space.

Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944
Zach Behrens, USFS Communications, (909) 382-2788
Norm Lopez, SCBS, (805) 431-2824