Category Archives: Sport Fishing

Map-based Sport Fishing Regulations Offers Ease of Use for Anglers

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has launched a beta release of an online location-based Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations tool to help anglers identify those regulations that relate to the area they plan to fish. The new tool provides an easy way for anglers to find the sections of the regulations that are relevant to them.

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The new fishing regulations tool can be found at https://map.dfg.ca.gov/sportfishingregs/. It is designed to work on a smart phone, tablet or desktop computer.

When accessed from a smart phone or a tablet with GPS, the map-based tool will automatically present the angler with the sport fishing regulations that apply to their current location based on the GPS in the device. When accessed from a tablet without GPS or from a desktop computer, the user can click anywhere on the map to discover the regulations for that area.

The new tool includes the Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet, found on our Regulations webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/regulations.

The regulations are also now available in the existing Fishing Guide, available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/guide.

“This is a big step forward in making the complex fishing regulations more accessible to the angling community,” said CDFW Acting Fisheries Branch Chief Roger Bloom. “As we continue to simplify our fishing regulations, they will be kept up-to-date within this new tool.”

This is a beta release that CDFW staff will be actively working to improve. CDFW welcomes comments or suggestions for improvement. Please send feedback to fishingguide@wildlife.ca.gov.

Media Contacts:
Roger Bloom, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 445-3777
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

General Trout Season Opens Saturday

The general trout opener in many counties throughout California will commence on Saturday, April 30, one hour before sunrise.

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Because of the popularity of this annual event with the angling public, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is making every effort to stock trout in all accessible waters approved for planting prior to the season opener. Because of the increased rains this winter, CDFW expects most lakes to be open and available for fishing.

Most lakes, rivers and streams have a limit of five trout per day and 10 in possession. However, regulations differ on season opening and closing dates, bag limits, minimum and maximum size limits and gear restrictions.

Anglers are advised to check specific area regulations and opening dates in the 2016-17 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulation booklet (www.wildlife.ca.gov/regulations) for regulations specific to each body of water.

In 2012, CDFW regional staff created the Eastern Sierra Back Country Fishing Guide to provide anglers with a quick, informative and accurate account of the distribution of fisheries in back country high elevation lakes. This guide does not address front country waters, defined as lakes and streams that are accessible by vehicle. Most of the lakes lie within U.S. Forest Service lands managed as wilderness and usually require back country permits for overnight use. Most back country fisheries are based on self-sustaining populations of trout and do not need regular trout stocking to maintain fish populations. The guide can be found at https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regions/6 (under Hunting, Fishing, Education).

Crowley Lake in the Eastern Sierra is expected to be one of the most popular opening day destinations for anglers from around the state. In past years, an estimated 10,000 anglers have turned out for the opener, and approximately 50,000 trout are caught during the first week of the season. Typically Crowley is planted with hundreds of thousands of small and medium sized trout, and because of excellent food sources in the 5,280-acre reservoir, these trout grow to catchable sizes and weigh at least three-quarters of a pound by the opener. About 10 percent of the trout caught at Crowley during opening weekend weigh over a pound and a half. These fish are from stocks planted in previous years or are wild fish produced in Crowley’s tributary waters.

Anglers are asked to be particularly vigilant when cleaning fish and fishing gear at Crowley Lake and in the upper and lower Owens River Drainage. The New Zealand Mudsnail was discovered several years ago in the Owens River Drainage, and CDFW would like to prevent mudsnails from spreading into other waters. To avoid spreading New Zealand Mudsnails and other aquatic invasive species to other waters, anglers are advised to dispose of their fish guts in bear-proof trash cans, rather than throw them back into the water. Wading gear should be properly cleaned before using in new waters.

All persons age 16 and older must possess a valid California fishing license to fish within state lines. Freshwater fishing licenses can be purchased online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/online-sales or at regional CDFW offices or other license agents. Anglers no longer have to display their license visibly above the waist but they must have it in their possession while fishing.

Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944
James Erdman, CDFW Environmental Scientist, (760) 873-6071

Salmon Seasons Set for Ocean and Inland Waters

The California Fish and Game Commission adopted recreational ocean and inland salmon season regulations as presented by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) on April 18. Ocean salmon season dates and management measures are set to coincide with the alternatives adopted by the Pacific Fishery Management Council for federal waters off the California coast. Inland river seasons adopted by the Commission are identical to the 2015 seasons with the exception of a reduction in the allowable harvest of Klamath Basin Chinook salmon.

“Reduced fishing opportunity in the ocean and inland areas are a reflection of lower abundance for some California salmon stocks as compared to recent years, likely as a result of extended drought and generally unfavorable ocean conditions for salmon survival,” said Jennifer Simon, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Marine Region Salmon Team. “The 2016 seasons are intended to allow limited fishing opportunity on stocks that can support them while providing increased protection for the most vulnerable of stocks.”

An expected ocean abundance of roughly 300,000 Sacramento River fall Chinook (compared to 650,000 last year) will support recreational and commercial opportunities for ocean salmon fisheries off portions of California and Oregon. A projected return of 151,000 spawning adults allows for an inland river recreational harvest of 24,600 adult Chinook.

The Klamath River fall Chinook ocean abundance forecast of 142,200 adults is substantially lower than recent years and the primary reason for ocean fishery constraints. A projected return of 30,909 natural area spawning adults allows for an inland river recreational harvest quota of 1,110 adult Chinook salmon greater than 22 inches. In 2015 the harvest quota was 14,133.

The resulting bag and possession limits and seasons adopted by the Commission are as follows:

Central Valley Rivers:

Daily limit of two fish per day and a possession limit of four fish. On the American and Feather rivers the general season opener is July 16. On the Sacramento River below Deschutes Road Bridge to the Red Bluff Diversion Dam, the season opens Aug. 1 and closes Dec. 16. From below the Red Bluff Diversion Dam to the Carquinez Bridge, the season opens July 16 and closes Dec. 16. Please see the 2016 Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet for openings and closing of specific sections of each river, as well as gear restrictions.

Klamath River:

Daily limit of two fish per day of which only one may be greater than 22 inches, and the possession limit is six fish of which only three may be greater than 22 inches. The Klamath River fall Chinook season opens Aug. 15 and closes Dec. 31, while the Trinity River opens to salmon fishing on Sept. 1 and closes Dec. 31.

Ocean Salmon: 

Ocean salmon recreational fisheries include a daily limit of two adult Chinook salmon with four in possession on land with varying size restrictions depending on the area. Season dates include openings in May, June, July, August and the Labor Day weekend in the Crescent City/Eureka area. Fisheries further south opened on April 2 and will continue through Nov. 13 in the Fort Bragg area, through Oct. 31 in the San Francisco area, through July 15 from Pigeon Point to Point Sur, and through May 31 south of Point Sur. For a more in-depth look at ocean salmon seasons and restrictions, please see  www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon.

Long-running drought conditions, coupled with suboptimal ocean conditions, have raised serious concerns for Sacramento River winter Chinook salmon, which are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and have experienced very low survival as juveniles in 2014 and 2015. Fisheries south of Point Arena, particularly recreational fisheries in the greater Monterey Bay region, continue to experience late-season reductions in 2016 to minimize interactions with winter Chinook.

Media Contact:
Jennifer Simon, CDFW Salmon Team, (707) 576-2878
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Recreational and Commercial Rock Crab Fishery Opens in Channel Islands, Excluding State Waters Between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands

State health officials determined today that rock crab species caught in state waters near the Channel Islands no longer contain high levels of domoic acid, and no longer pose a significant risk to human health. Acting upon a recommendation from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), in consultation with the director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Fish and Game Commission has opened the recreational and commercial rock crab fisheries in this area.

However, a closure still remains in effect in state waters between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands within an exclusion area bounded by straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

  • 34° 7.75’ N lat. 120° 0.00’ W long.;
  • 34° 7.75’ N lat. 119° 50.00’ W long.;
  • 33° 53.00’ N lat. 119° 50.00’ W long.;
  • 33° 53.00’ N lat. 120° 0.00’ W long.; and
  • 34° 7.75’ N lat. 120° 0.00’ W long.

Closures remain in effect for all rock crab in areas north of Piedras Blancas Light Station in San Luis Obispo County (35° 40′ N latitude), and for Dungeness crab in state waters north of the Sonoma/Mendocino County Line (38° 46.1′ N latitude). Tests on crabs in those areas continued to show elevated levels of domoic acid.

Pursuant to emergency regulations adopted by the Fish and Game Commission, the recreational rock crab fishery is now open in state waters near the Channel Islands except for within the above listed exclusion area. The commercial rock crab fishery is also open effective immediately within the same areas open for the recreational crab fishery.

Despite several weeks of samples below alert levels, as a precaution, CDPH and OEHHA recommend that anglers and consumers not eat the viscera (internal organs, also known as “butter” or “guts”) of crabs. CDPH and OEHHA are also recommending that water or broth used to cook whole crabs be discarded and not used to prepare dishes such as sauces, broths, soups or stews. The viscera usually contain much higher levels of domoic acid than crab body meat.  When whole crabs are cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach from the viscera into the cooking liquid.  This precaution is being recommended to avoid harm in the unlikely event that some crabs taken from an open fishery have elevated levels of domoic acid.

Elevated domoic acid levels forced a closure of the rock crab fishery but also a delay in the opening of the more economically valuable Dungeness crab fishery.  With recent test results showing that domoic acid levels south of the Mendocino/Sonoma county line no longer pose a significant human health risk, both the recreational and commercial Dungeness crab fisheries opened earlier this month.

Pursuant to the emergency regulations adopted by the Fish and Game Commission and CDFW on Nov.  5 and 6, respectively, the current open and closed areas are as follows:

Areas open to crab fishing include:

  • Recreational and commercial rock crab fisheries along the mainland coast south of 35° 40′ N latitude (Piedras Blancas Light Station, San Luis Obispo County)
  • Recreational and commercial rock crab fisheries in state waters near the Channel Islands outside of the exclusion area between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands
  • Recreational and commercial Dungeness crab fisheries along mainland coast south of Sonoma/Mendocino County line at 38° 46.1’ N latitude, near Gualala, Mendocino County

Areas closed to crab fishing include:

  • Recreational and commercial rock crab fisheries north of 35° 40′ N latitude (Piedras Blancas Light Station, San Luis Obispo County)
  • Recreational and commercial rock crab fisheries in state waters between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands within an exclusion area bounded by straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

(1) 34° 7.75’ N lat. 120° 0.00’ W long.;
(2) 34° 7.75’ N lat. 119° 50.00’ W long.;
(3) 33° 53.00’ N lat. 119° 50.00’ W long.;
(4) 33° 53.00’ N lat. 120° 0.00’ W long.; and
(5) 34° 7.75’ N lat. 120° 0.00’ W long.

  • Recreational and commercial Dungeness crab fishery north of Sonoma/Mendocino County line at 38° 46.1’ N Latitude, near Gualala, Mendocino County

CDFW will continue to closely coordinate with CDPH, OEHHA and fisheries representatives to extensively monitor domoic acid levels in Dungeness and rock crabs to determine when the fisheries can safely be opened in the remainder of the state.

Rock Crab Fishery Closure Map

OEHHA Memo 3/28/2016

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Media Contacts:
Christy Juhasz, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2887

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Recreational Dungeness Crab Fishery Open South of Sonoma/Mendocino County Line, Commercial Fishery to Open in Seven Days

Closure of the recreational Dungeness crab fishery south of the Mendocino/Sonoma county line has been lifted, and opening of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery – delayed since November – is set for March 26 in the same region.

Recent test results show that domoic acid levels in crabs off the California coast south of the Mendocino/Sonoma county line no longer pose a significant human health risk, according to notice given today to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Fish and Game Commission (Commission) by the director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), after consultation with  the Director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

As a result, the director of OEHHA recommends opening the Dungeness crab fishery in this area. Under emergency closure regulations, CDFW will provide commercial Dungeness crab fishermen at least seven days’ notice before the re-opening of the commercial fishery south of the Mendocino/Sonoma county line, and so that fishery will open at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 26. The presoak period, during which commercial fishermen may begin getting gear in place, starts at 6:01 a.m. Friday, March 25.

Closures remain in place north of the Mendocino/Sonoma county line for the Dungeness crab commercial and recreational fisheries. The commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries are closed north of Piedras Blancas Light Station near San Simeon, and in state waters around San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz islands.

The unusually high domoic acid levels off the coast this fall and winter wrecked a Dungeness crab fishery worth as much as $90 million a year to California’s economy. Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates and sometimes fish. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and may be fatal.

“This has been a very difficult season for hardworking Californians who have suffered significant financial hardship due to this natural disaster,” said Charlton H. Bonham, Director of CDFW. “We thank the affected communities for their patience and fortitude as we have worked with our partners at CDPH and OEHHA to open a portion of the commercial fishery along a traditional management boundary as recommended by the industry.”

Both the commercial and recreational Dungeness crab seasons are scheduled to end June 30 in the newly opened area, although the CDFW director has authority to extend the commercial season.

In February, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker seeking federal declarations of a fishery disaster and a commercial fishery failure in response to the continued presence of unsafe levels of domoic acid and the corresponding closures of rock crab and Dungeness crab fisheries across California. Should a federal determination be made to declare a disaster and failure, the state and federal agencies will work together to determine the full economic impact of the disaster and, upon appropriation of funds from Congress, provide economic relief to affected crabbers and related businesses.

Despite several weeks of test results that showed crab body meat samples below alert levels, one sample of viscera was slightly above the alert level. Because of this, CDPH and OEHHA strongly recommend that anglers and consumers not eat the viscera (internal organs, also known as “butter” or “guts”) of crabs. CDPH and OEHHA are also recommending that water or broth used to cook whole crabs be discarded and not used to prepare dishes such as sauces, broths, soups or stews. The viscera usually contain much higher levels of domoic acid than crab body meat. When whole crabs are cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach from the viscera into the cooking liquid. This is being recommended to avoid harm in the event that some crabs taken from an open fishery have elevated levels of domoic acid.

With the partial opening of the commercial fishery in the state, CDFW recommends that all people fishing for crab refer to the Best Practices Guide, a resource providing tips on how to use crab trap gear in a manner that reduces incidences of whale entanglements. This guide was produced collaboratively between commercial crabbers, agency staff and staff from non-profit organizations during two meetings of the Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group that took place late last year.

Pursuant to the emergency regulations adopted by the Commission and CDFW on November 5 and 6, 2015, respectively, the current open and closed areas are as follows:

Areas open to crab fishing include:

  • Recreational Dungeness crab fishery along mainland coast south of Sonoma/Mendocino county line – 38° 46.1’ N Latitude, near Gualala, Mendocino County
  • On March 26, 2016 Commercial Dungeness crab fishery along mainland coast south of Sonoma/Mendocino county line – 38° 46.1’ N Latitude, near Gualala, Mendocino County
  • Commercial and recreational rock crab fishery along the mainland coast south of 35° 40′ N Latitude (Piedras Blancas Light Station, San Luis Obispo County)

Areas closed to crab fishing include:

  • Recreational Dungeness crab fishery north of Sonoma/Mendocino county line – 38° 46.1’ N Latitude, near Gualala, Mendocino County
  • Commercial Dungeness crab fishery north of Sonoma/Mendocino county line – 38° 46.1’ N Latitude, near Gualala, Mendocino County
  • Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries north of 35° 40′ N Latitude (Piedras Blancas Light Station)
  • Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries in state waters around San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands.

CDFW will continue to closely coordinate with CDPH, OEHHA and fisheries representatives to extensively monitor domoic acid levels in Dungeness and rock crabs to determine when the fisheries can safely be opened throughout the state.

OEHHA Memo 3/18/2016

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Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937