Category Archives: salmon

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

April Recreational Ocean Salmon Fishery Curtailed on Much of the California Coast

California’s recreational salmon fishery will open in ocean waters on Saturday, April 7 from Pigeon Point (37° 11’ 00” N. latitude) south to the U.S./Mexico border. The recreational salmon fishery will remain closed in all other areas off California during the month of April.

At its meeting this week in Rohnert Park, Calif., the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) made the decision to open only a limited section of the California coast on April 7. California’s recent drought combined with poor ocean conditions has resulted in three consecutive years of low abundance for Sacramento River fall Chinook and Klamath River fall Chinook, pushing both into “overfished” status.

“Fishing seasons are being curtailed this year in an effort to increase spawner escapement to the Sacramento and Klamath river basins in 2018,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife Environmental Scientist Kandice Morgenstern.

Where fishing is open in April, the minimum size limit is 24 inches total length. Additional season, bag/possession limit information and gear restrictions can be found on CDFW’s ocean salmon webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon.

For the first time, state ocean salmon fishing regulations will automatically conform to federal ocean salmon fishing regulations using the new process described in the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.95. In the past, the California Fish and Game Commission needed to adopt the April season recommended by the PFMC. Public notification of any in-season change to conform state regulations to federal regulations is made through the NMFS ocean salmon hotline at (800) 662-9825.

Salmon seasons beginning on or after May 1 will be decided during the April 5-11 PFMC meeting in Portland, Ore. The PFMC is considering alternatives for California’s 2018 commercial and recreational ocean salmon regulations, including season dates and size limits. The public is encouraged to comment at a hearing on Tuesday, March 27 at 7 p.m., at the Laurel Inn and Conference Center, 801 West Laurel Drive in Salinas. Comments can also be submitted through the PFMC website at www.pcouncil.org.

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

California’s Drought, Poor Ocean Conditions Impact Salmon Forecast for 2018

Commercial and sport anglers received mixed news today regarding the status of Sacramento River fall Chinook and Klamath River fall Chinook – California’s two largest Chinook salmon populations. While adult returns of both stocks were well below minimum escapement goals in 2017, and projected abundance for both stocks is modest compared to historic averages, state and federal fishery scientists reported an increase in the number of jacks (two-year-old Chinook) that returned to spawn in 2017. Higher jack returns, as seen in 2017, can indicate the potential for increased abundance of adult (three years old or older) Chinook for 2018 fisheries.

Forecasts presented at today’s annual Salmon Information Meeting suggest there are 229,400 Sacramento River fall Chinook adults in the ocean this year, along with 359,200 Klamath River fall Chinook adults. While the Sacramento River fall Chinook forecast is comparable to last year, there are greater numbers of Klamath River fall Chinook projected to be in the ocean in 2018. Fall Chinook from these runs typically comprise the majority of salmon taken in California’s ocean and inland fisheries.

The effects of the recent drought are still impacting California’s salmon populations. Outbound juvenile Chinook suffered unusually high mortality because of low flows and high water temperatures in both the Sacramento and Klamath watersheds in 2014 and 2015. Unsuitable river conditions, coupled with persistently poor ocean conditions during the same period, resulted in very low numbers of adult Chinook returning to spawn in both the Klamath and Sacramento River basins in 2017.

Over the next two months, the Pacific Fishery Management Council will use the 2018 fall Chinook ocean abundance forecasts, in addition to information on the status of endangered Sacramento River winter Chinook, to set ocean sport and commercial fishing season dates, commercial quotas and size and bag limits.

At the same time, fishery managers with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will be working to develop a suite of recommendations for the California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) to consider on 2018 fishing seasons, size limits and bag limits for Chinook salmon river fishing in the Klamath/Trinity and Sacramento River basins. For more information, please visit the FGC Sport Fishing Regulations website.

For more information on the process for setting the California ocean salmon season or for general information about ocean salmon fishing, please visit the Ocean Salmon Project website. For the latest ocean salmon season regulations, please call the CDFW ocean salmon hotline at (707) 576-3429 or the National Marine Fisheries Service salmon fishing hotline at (800) 662-9825.

For the latest inland salmon season regulations in the Klamath/Trinity basin, call (800) 564-6479, and in the Central Valley, please visit the CDFW Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations website.

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

 

Nimbus Basin will be Closed to all Fishing as of March 2018

The Nimbus Basin on the lower American River will permanently close to all fishing as of March 1, 2018, as per fishing regulations amended by the Fish and Game Commission in December 2017.

The closure will take effect from Nimbus Dam on the lower American River to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) gauging station cable crossing approximately one-half mile downriver (California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 7.50(b)(5)(A) and (B).

Under current regulations, the American River from Nimbus Dam to the Hazel Avenue bridge piers is open to fishing all year (CCR Title 14, section 7.50 (b)(5)(A)), and from the Hazel Avenue bridge piers to the USGS gauging station cable crossing about 300 yards downstream from the Nimbus Hatchery fish weir from Jan. 1 through Aug. 15 (section 7.50(b)(5)(B)).

Closure of the Nimbus Basin to fishing is part of the Nimbus Hatchery Fish Passage Project, which involves reorienting the hatchery’s fish ladder into the Nimbus Basin and removing the existing fish weir. This project will create and maintain a reliable system of collecting adult salmon and steelhead broodstock for the hatchery and increase the amount of natural spawning and rearing habitat available in the lower American River.

The changes will also minimize American River flow fluctuations associated with installation and removal of the hatchery’s weir and eliminate health and safety concerns relative to the deterioration of the existing weir structure. The new spawning habitat opened up by the permanent removal of the weir will improve juvenile salmon production and increase harvest opportunities downstream.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife completed a joint Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIR/EIS) for the Nimbus Hatchery Fish Passage Project in 2011. Planning is currently underway and construction is scheduled to begin in federal fiscal year 2019. The EIR/EIS is available for download from www.usbr.gov/mp/ccao/hatchery.

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Media Contacts:
Jeanine Phillips, CDFW North Central Region Fisheries, (916) 358-2030
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

 

CDFW Now Accepting Fisheries Habitat Restoration Project Proposals

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting proposals for projects under its Fiscal Year 2018-19 Fisheries Habitat Restoration Proposal Solicitation Notice (PSN). The PSN and online grant application are online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Grants/FRGP/Solicitation. Applications must be submitted online by Friday, March 30, 2018 at 5 p.m.

CDFW will also hold a series of public workshops to assist applicants in understanding the requirements of the PSN. Applicants are encouraged to attend a workshop even if they have submitted proposals in the past. Workshops will be held in Yreka, Fortuna, Fort Bragg, Sacramento, Petaluma, San Luis Obispo, Los Alamitos, Monterey and Camarillo on various dates in February. For details and meeting contact information, please see the PSN Workshop Letter.

The PSN invites restoration projects that meet the funding requirements of the Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (focusing on recovery of state-listed salmon and steelhead along the coast and in the Central Valley), the Forest Legacy Program (focusing on the restoration of watersheds affected by historic forest practices), the Commercial Salmon Stamp Program (focusing on projects enhancing the salmon fishery) and the Steelhead Restoration and Report Card Program (focusing on projects enhancing the recreational steelhead fishery). Eligible applicants include public agencies, recognized tribes and qualified nonprofit organizations. Funded projects could include habitat restoration, water conservation, education, monitoring and restoration planning.

While the amount of available funding is not known at this time, in FY 2017-18 the program was able to provide more than $15 million in funding for eligible projects. Funding for FY 2018-19 grants is expected to be awarded to approved projects in early 2019.

For information or questions about the PSN or application process, please contact Tim Chorey, CDFW Fisheries Restoration Grant Program Coordinator, at (916) 327-8842.

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Media Contacts:|
Matt Wells, CDFW Watershed Restoration Grants Branch, (916) 445-1285
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988