Chinook Salmon

CDFW to Host Virtual Public Meeting on Ocean Salmon Fisheries

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites the public to attend its upcoming annual Salmon Information Meeting. The meeting will feature the outlook for this year’s sport and commercial ocean salmon fisheries, in addition to a review of last year’s salmon fisheries and spawning escapement.

The meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. via webinar.

Stakeholders are encouraged to provide input on potential fishing seasons to a panel of California salmon scientists, managers and fishery representatives who will be directly involved in the upcoming Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) meetings in March and April.

The 2021 Salmon Information Meeting marks the beginning of a two-month long public process used to develop annual sport and commercial ocean salmon fishing regulations. The process involves collaborative negotiations with west coast states, federal agencies, tribal comanagers, and stakeholders interested in salmon fishery management and conservation. Public input will help California representatives develop a range of recommended season alternatives during the March 2-5 and 8-11, 2021 PFMC meeting. The PFMC will finalize the recommended season dates at its April 6-9 and 12-15, 2021 meeting.

Salmon Information Meeting details and instructions for attendance are available on CDFW’s Ocean Salmon web page, along with a calendar of events and other opportunities for public engagement in the 2021 preseason process. A summary of key information and meeting outcomes will be posted on the Marine Management News blogsite after the meeting.

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Media Contacts
Ian Pritchard, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2891
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169

Special Post-Season Waterfowl Hunt Weekend Reserved for Veterans and Active Military Personnel Feb. 13-14

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will reopen and staff nearly two dozen of the state’s most popular waterfowl hunting areas to welcome veterans and active military personnel for a special hunt weekend Feb. 13 and 14.

The first Veterans and Active Military Waterfowl Hunting Days take place the second weekend in February throughout the Balance of the State, Southern San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California waterfowl zones on both private property and public land for eligible hunters.

Species and daily bag limits are the same as the regular season with the following exceptions: Brant are not open to take and geese are not allowed to be taken in the Balance of State Zone on these days.

In addition to a valid California hunting license, California duck validation, federal duck stamp and Harvest Information Program (HIP) validation, any person participating in these hunts must possess and present upon demand verification of eligibility. Acceptable verification includes: a Veteran ID Card, military ID card for active duty personnel, or a state-issued driver license or ID card with veteran designation. Qualifying veterans are those defined in Section 101, Title 38, of the United States Code. Absence of verification may subject the hunter to citation.

Among those public areas reopening for Veterans and Active Military Waterfowl Hunting Days: The Little Dry Creek Unit of the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area, Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, Sutter National Wildlife Refuge, Grizzly Island Wildlife Area, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, Kern National Wildlife Refuge, Los Banos Wildlife Area, Mendota Wildlife Area, Merced National Wildlife Refuge, San Luis National Wildlife Refuge, North Grasslands Wildlife Area, San Jacinto Wildlife Area, Volta Wildlife Area, Wister Unit of the Imperial Wildlife Area and Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area.

A wildlife area pass is required to hunt on Type A and Type B state-operated wildlife areas and national wildlife refuges during the hunt weekend. These items are not available for sale at hunter check stations and must be purchased ahead of time. All 2020 Type A and Type B Wildlife Area Season Passes and Type A One and Two-Day Wildlife Area Passes will be accepted during the hunt weekend. A Type A or Type B Season Pass is required to hunt on Type B Wildlife Areas.

As of Feb. 1, overnight camping is once again allowed on state-operated wildlife areas and federal refuges reopening for the Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days Feb. 6-7 and the Veterans and Active Military Waterfowl Hunting Days Feb. 13-14. Please check with the individual property for entry procedures, specific details and other regulations.

Waterfowl hunters are strongly encouraged to review the 2020 CDFW Wildlife Area Operational Changes due to COVID-19 webpage prior to visiting any state-operated wildlife area or refuge in order to understand all required health and safety practices in place to help protect visitors and staff. Waterfowl hunters are further advised to check with the individual property they are planning to hunt for specific entry procedures, details and other regulations.

Below are general COVID-19 safety guidelines to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus in the outdoors:

  • Stay Local: Stay close to home during this pandemic period. If you or anyone in your household is feeling sick, please remain at home and plan your trip for another time. 
  • Plan Ahead: The ongoing pandemic response continues to be dynamic. Prior to leaving home, check to ensure your destination is open, if parking is available and what visitor guidelines may be in effect.
  • Stay Safer at Six Feet: No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Those camping together should only include people within your immediate household. This means no guests or friends, and no gatherings or parties.
  • Keep Clean: Be prepared as not all services may be available. Restrooms may be unavailable or closed. Bring soap/hand sanitizer. Please pack out all trash.

Stay Covered: The state requires you to wear a face covering when you cannot maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Individuals must have a face covering with them at all times.

Media Contact:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 215-3858

Photo:
Bill Self of Dublin is an Air Force veteran, retired educator, and lifelong California sportsman. He and his fellow veterans along with active military personnel will enjoy an extra weekend of duck hunting Feb. 13 and 14 during California’s first Veterans and Active Military Waterfowl Hunting Days. Photo courtesy of Edward Lee.

Many Californians Took to the Woods and Waters in 2020

Fishing, Hunting License Sales Soar Amid Pandemic

With more free time on their hands, a growing interest in securing their own food, coupled with the needs for physical outlets and mental relief as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, more Californians turned to fishing and hunting last year.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) issued nearly two million sport fishing licenses in 2020, an 11 percent increase from 2019. Of those, 1,201,237 were annual resident sport fishing licenses, a 19 percent increase over 2019. Not since 2008 has CDFW issued as many sport fishing licenses as it did last year.

California hunter numbers also spiked. CDFW issued nearly 300,000 California hunting licenses in 2020, a nine percent increase from the previous year. Of those, 244,040 were annual resident hunting licenses – an 11 percent increase from the previous year.

About 16 percent of the annual resident hunting licenses issued last year – 43,450 – went to first-time license holders. Another 12 percent of those hunting licenses – 31,835 – went to reactivated hunters, meaning residents who didn’t purchase a California hunting license in 2019, but held one in a prior year.

“We recognize it’s important to provide an outlet for recreation, mental and physical health during these difficult times, and we’ve worked hard as a department to keep hunting and fishing opportunities open, available and safe as much as possible,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “We’re especially excited to welcome so many new hunters and new anglers of all ages and all backgrounds. A California fishing or hunting license is a passport to outdoor adventure and a gateway to healthy living, environmental stewardship, good times and lifetime learning.”

Hunters and anglers play a crucial role in managing natural resources by regulating wildlife populations to maintain ecological and biological diversity, participating in surveys for scientific data collection and reporting wildlife crimes. Hunters and anglers also help sustain a multibillion-dollar outdoor recreation industry and provide a significant funding source for fish and wildlife conservation in California.

Amid the global pandemic in 2020, CDFW created new virtual learning resources for hunters and anglers while instituting COVID-19 safeguards and precautions on the ground to keep hunting and fishing opportunities open and safe for both staff and participants. Among those efforts:

  • The Harvest Huddle Hour (R3H3) debuted. Part of CDFW’s R3 initiative to recruit, retain, and reactivate hunters and anglers in California, the virtual seminar series for beginning adult audiences is intended to increase knowledge and confidence around skillsets required to harvest wild food in California. The seminars, archived online at the CDFW website, included “Intro to California Inland Fishing,” “Bag and Possession Limits and Gifting Your Take,” “Intro to Foraging,” “Tackle Box Basics” and “Intro to Turkey Hunting.” More topics in hunting, fishing, foraging and the shooting sports are planned for 2021.
  • Beginning in May, CDFW’s Hunter Education Program allowed aspiring hunters to complete their hunter education requirements entirely online. Prior to COVID-19, California offered a traditional in-person course or a hybrid online/in-person class with a certified Hunter Education Instructor.
  • CDFW’s Hunter Education Program also moved its Advanced Hunter Education Clinics – focused on the how-to of hunting – to an online, webinar format in 2020. The webinars, archived online at the CDFW website, included “Waterfowl Reservation System and Refuge Operations,” “Waterfowl Wednesday,” “Upland Opportunities” and “Band-tailed Pigeons – What They Are and How to Hunt Them.” More topics are planned for 2021.
  • CDFW’s Fishing in the City Program, which provides angling opportunities for city dwellers and suburban residents, continued with trout and catfish plants in neighborhood park ponds and suburban lakes even though it had to suspend in-person fishing clinics. Fishing in the City created a series of “learn to fish” videos to help newcomers get started in fishing – and help parents get their kids started in fishing.
  • CDFW instituted COVID-19-related safeguards and operational changes at all state-operated wildlife areas and refuges — popular with hunters, anglers, wildlife watchers, hikers, and others — to keep these areas open and accessible throughout 2020 and into 2021.
Boy with decoys at sunrise

January 2021 California Department of Fish and Wildlife Calendar

All calendar items are subject to change as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Please continue to adhere to all safety protocols including physical distancing, wearing masks and frequent hand washing.

Wildlife areas, ecological reserves and other properties may be closed due to wildfire damage. Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts are strongly encouraged to check for closures before leaving on any recreational trip.

Various Days — Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Access Permit Application Deadline for Multiple Hunting Opportunities. Wild pig, waterfowl, turkey and quail hunts are available through the SHARE program. A $12.14 non-refundable application fee is charged for each hunt choice. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share.

1 — Recreational Groundfish Fishery for Boat-based Anglers Closed. Species include rockfish, cabezon, kelp and rock greenlings, lingcod, leopard shark, soupfin shark and spiny dogfish, and other federally managed groundfish. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/regulations/groundfish-summary.

2 — White and White-fronted Goose Season Opens in the Northeastern California Zone. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

7 — “Humbled: How California’s Monterey Bay Escaped Industrial Ruin” Virtual Event, 5:30 to 7 p.m. In their book, “Humbled: How California’s Monterey Bay Escaped Industrial Ruin,” local authors Glenn Church and Kathryn McKenzie recount the story of a divided community, an emerging environmental movement and the twists and turns that eventually dismantled plans for a vast industrial complex. Hear from the authors and learn about this pivotal event in California’s history of conservation. Hosted by the Elkhorn Slough Reserve, this event is free and available to stream live via Facebook and Zoom. For more information and to view the program, please visit www.facebook.com/events/801486314032275.

10 — Canada Goose Season Closes in the Northeastern California Zone. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

12— California Fish and Game Commission Meeting. The meeting is to be held via webinar/teleconference due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. For more information, please visit fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2021.

12—California Fish and Game Wildlife Resources Committee Meeting. The meeting is to be held via webinar/teleconference due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. For more information, please visit fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2021.

13 — Duck Season Closes in the Northeastern California Zone. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

15 — White Geese and White-fronted Goose Season Closes in the Northeastern California Zone. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

31 — Duck and Goose Season Closes in the Balance of State Zone. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

31 — Duck and Goose Season Closes in the Colorado River, Southern San Joaquin and Southern California Zones. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

31 — Deer Tag Reporting Deadline. Deer tag holders must submit a harvest report for any 2020 deer tag by the Jan. 31, 2021 deadline. All tag holders must report even if they did not hunt, or they hunted unsuccessfully. Tag holders who do not report by this deadline will be charged a $21.60 non-reporting penalty fee when purchasing a 2021 deer tag drawing application or deer tag. To report your harvest online, please visit www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales/customersearch/begin. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/hunting#9941260-tag-reporting.

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Media Contacts:
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8907
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

CDFW Offering Free, Physically Distanced Swan Tours This Fall and Winter

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is once again offering free swan tours in Yuba County near Marysville on select Saturdays, November through January.

Held in partnership with the Mathews Rice farming operation, this area – called District 10 – boasts the largest number of overwintering tundra swans in the Central Valley as well as abundant geese, ducks, shorebirds and raptors.

These popular, naturalist-led tours last approximately two hours and have been reconfigured to meet current COVID-19-related health and safety protocols. These safety measures include all participants and guides driving their own vehicles instead of carpooling together. Walkie talkies will be distributed to each participant vehicle to hear and communicate with the guide during the tour. Participants are required to follow all health protocols, which will be distributed upon registration.

The tour dates are:

  • Nov. 21 and 28
  • Dec. 5, 12 and 19
  • Jan. 2, 9 and 16

Tours are offered at 9:30 a.m. and at 1 p.m. on each date.

Pre-registration is required by contacting Genelle Treaster, CDFW North Central Region, at genelle.treaster@wildlife.ca.gov.

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Media Contacts:
Genelle Treaster, CDFW North Central Region, (916) 396-1518
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 215-3858