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