Tag Archives: fishing

New Recreational Pacific Halibut Regulations in Effect for 2015

Angler with Pacific halibut
Angler with Pacific halibut

The recreational Pacific halibut fishery will open May 1 for the 2015 season. This year the fishery will be held to a federally established quota of 25,220 pounds. The season dates will be May 1-15, June 1-15, July 1-15, Aug. 1-15, and Sept. 1-Oct. 31, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier.

“California’s recreational quota was the result of hard work with the industry and other states,” said Marci Yaremko, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) representative to the Pacific Fishery Management Council. “We are committed to ensuring this year’s catch does not exceed that number.”

To be consistent with international and federal gear restrictions already in place, state regulations now limit anglers to one rod and no more than two hooks per person to take Pacific halibut. New state regulations will allow the use of a harpoon, gaff or net to assist in taking a Pacific halibut that has been legally caught by angling.

The season dates were determined through a collaborative effort between CDFW staff and stakeholders to provide as much fishing opportunity as possible between May and October. The open and closed periods are intended to spread the fishing activity from spring through fall.

Again this year, field staff will be stationed at public launch ramps and charter boat landings to monitor catches of Pacific halibut along with other marine sportfish. CDFW will examine this information in comparison to expected catch rates and confer with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on a weekly basis. If the cumulative catch is expected to reach or exceed the quota prior to Oct. 31, NMFS will close the fishery.

The public can follow the progress of catch through the season by viewing the new Pacific halibut thermometer, http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/pacifichalibut.asp, which will be updated weekly with the latest catch projection information.

Before engaging in any fishing activity for Pacific halibut, please check one of the following resources for the most up-to-date regulations:

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Media Contacts:
Deb Wilson-Vandenberg, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 649-2892
Carrie Wilson, CDFW Communications, (831) 649-7191

Fish and Game Commission Adopts Central Valley and Klamath River In-river Sport Fishing Regulations

The California Fish and Game Commission adopted changes to the Central Valley and Klamath River basin salmon sport fishing regulations for the 2015 season on Friday, April 17. The changes include fall-run Chinook quotas, bag and possession limits, and restrictions at the mouth of the Klamath River (spit area) and in the main stem Klamath River in the vicinity of Blue Creek. The only change to the Central Valley regulations is an increase in the possession limit from two to four salmon. All other Central Valley regulations remain unchanged from last year.

The Klamath basin sport fishing quota for adult fall-run Chinook salmon is 14,133 fish. This represents a 250 percent increase over last year’s salmon quota and allowed for an increase in daily bag limit. The daily bag limit for fall-run Chinook salmon is three fish, no more than two adults (greater than 22 inches) and the possession limit is nine fall-run Chinook salmon, no more than six adults. The 2015 sport fishing season for fall-run Chinook salmon will run from Aug. 15 through Dec. 31 on the Klamath River and Sept. 1 through Dec. 31 on the Trinity River.

The Commission adopted two new restrictions for Klamath anglers, one recommended by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) in regard to the spit area and one in the main stem Klamath near Blue Creek recommended by the Yurok Tribe. The new spit area restriction limits anglers to “catch and keep” for all legally caught Chinook salmon. Additionally, once anglers have retained two adult Chinook salmon greater than 22 inches or their total daily bag limit they must cease fishing in the spit area.

The Commission reviewed two key proposals for Blue Creek. CDFW’s, which requested a joint focused study to determine hook and release mortality in the Blue Creek area and the Yurok Tribe proposal to implement a conservation closure. The Commission selected the Yurok Tribe proposal to close all non-tribal sports fishing in the Blue Creek area from June 15 through Sept. 14 from ½ mile below to 500 feet above the confluence of Blue Creek and the Klamath River. From Sept. 15 through Dec. 31 the closure is 500 feet above and below Blue Creek. The Commission adopted the proposal as a conservation measure.

The Klamath fall-run Chinook quota is subdivided into sub quota areas within the basin.   The lower Klamath River (mouth to Weitchpec) will receive 50 percent (7,067 fish) of the quota, the upper Klamath River (upstream of Weitchpec) will receive 17 percent (2,403 fish) of the quota and the remaining 33 percent (4,663 fish) is allocated to the Trinity River, split between the lower (Trinity confluence to Cedar Flat) and upper Trinity (upstream of Cedar Flat). The mouth of the Klamath River (spit area) will receive an allocation of 2,120 adult fall-run Chinook which is inclusive of the lower Klamath River sub area quota.

Media Contact
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Fish and Game Commission Approves Emergency Fishing Closure on Part of Upper Sacramento River

Winter-run Chinook Salmon
Winter-run Chinook

Recommendations by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to provide dual areas of protection to Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon were approved by the state Fish and Game Commission on April 17.  An emergency regulation closing 5.5 miles of spawning habitat above the city of Redding on the Upper Sacramento River will go into effect on or about April 27. Enhanced protective measures were also included in the ocean sport and commercial fisheries regulations for the 2015 season.

“We are taking proactive measures on two fronts to protect these endangered fish both in the ocean and on their natal spawning habitat,” said CDFW Chief of Fisheries Stafford Lehr. “The fishing communities have stepped forward to support these measures and work towards long-term sustainability of the resource. None of us wanted to be in this situation, but heading into a fourth year of extreme drought calls for extreme measures.”

The emergency regulation closes all fishing on the 5.5 mile stretch of the Sacramento River from the Highway 44 Bridge where it crosses the Sacramento River upstream to Keswick Dam. The area is currently closed to salmon fishing but was open to trout fishing. The closure will protect critical spawning habitat and eliminate any incidental stress or hooking mortality of winter-run salmon by anglers.

The Commission also adopted ocean sport fishing regulations, which will mirror federal regulations approved earlier this week. CDFW, in consultation with representatives of California’s sport and commercial salmon fishing industries, recommended additional strategic protective measures for winter-run Chinook salmon to the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC). Following a two-month evaluation process, the PFMC recommended federal regulations that provide for sport and commercial seasons off California designed to target more abundant stocks, including Sacramento River fall-run Chinook salmon, while minimizing contact with winter-run Chinook.

“The CDFW proposal to reduce the allowable ocean harvest rate on winter-run salmon and change the timing and location of ocean fisheries south of San Francisco was accepted by the PFMC after in-depth analysis, review and discussion,” said Marci Yaremko, CDFW’s representative to the PFMC. “The Commission concurred with these recommendations, realizing their conservation benefit to all winter-run.”

It is highly unusual for a state to propose even stricter guidelines on a listed species than required by the federal Endangered Species Act. However, CDFW scientists believe the additional protection provided in the emergency river closure and additional ocean fishing restrictions will help a significant segment of the winter-run population to avoid losses.

“Given the gravity of the current situation, the Commission recognizes the need for highly protective measures,” said  Commission President Jack Baylis. “It is imperative that our fisheries are given the best protections.”

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Media Contact:
H
arry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478 or (208) 220-1169

CDFW Eastern Sierra Wardens to Conduct Wildlife Checkpoint

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will be conducting a wildlife checkpoint operation in in the Eastern Sierra in late April to promote safety, education and compliance with laws and regulations.

CDFW wildlife officers will be conducting the inspection on westbound Highway 108, north of Bridgeport, on Monday, April 27 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather permitting.

The wildlife checkpoint is being conducted to protect and conserve fish and wildlife, and to encourage safety and sportsmanship by promoting voluntary compliance with laws, rules and regulations through education, preventative patrol and enforcement.

All anglers and hunters will be required to stop and submit to an inspection. CDFW officers will also be providing informative literature about the invasive quagga mussel and New Zealand Mudsnail.

Media Contacts:
Lt. Bill Dailey, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (760) 872-7360
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Annual General Trout Opener Coming Soon

The general trout opener in many counties throughout California will commence on Saturday, April 25, one hour before sunrise.

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. Lingering winter conditions and this year’s unprecedented drought could play a major role in determining how many rivers, creeks, lakes and reservoirs can be stocked before April 25.

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 2015/16 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulation booklet at  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 http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/regions/6.

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 the Mudsnail 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

CDFW to Hold Public Meeting on Proposed Emergency Fishing Closure of Part of Sacramento River

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is holding a public meeting to solicit comments on a proposed closure of 5.5 miles of the Sacramento River above the Highway 44 Bridge in Redding to Keswick Dam. CDFW has determined this closure is necessary to protect endangered winter-run chinook salmon. The anticipated dates of closure are April 27-July 31.

“At the department, it pains us to propose this action for the state,” said Stafford Lehr, CDFW Fisheries Branch Chief. “But we are in unchartered territory here, and we believe this is the right thing to do if we want to help winter run and be able to fish for big rainbows in the long-run.”

The meeting will be held Tuesday, April 7, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Redding Public Library,1100 Parkview Ave. in Redding (96001).

CDFW is proposing a complete fishing closure in this critical holding and spawning area to ensure added protection for the federal and state endangered winter-run chinook, which face high risk of extinction. Given the gravity of the current situation, it is imperative that each and every adult fish be given maximum protection. Current regulations do not allow fishing for chinook salmon, but incidental catch by anglers targeting trout could occur.

An estimated 98 percent of the in-river spawning is occurring in the 5.5 mile stretch under consideration for closure. This reach is the principle spawning area in these extraordinary drought year conditions. This section represents only 10 percent of the waters currently open to fishing upstream of the Red Bluff Diversion Dam.

In 2014, approximately 95 percent of eggs and young winter-run chinook were lost due to elevated river temperatures. Given current drought conditions, it is likely the 2015-year eggs and young salmon will again be subject to extremely trying conditions.

CDFW is tasked by the Governor to work with the California Fish and Game Commission to determine whether fishing restrictions in certain areas are necessary and prudent as drought conditions persist. The proposed closure is also in accordance with the state and federal Endangered Species Acts.

Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce their water use by 25 percent. Visit  saveourwater.com to find out how everyone can do their part, and visit drought.ca.gov to learn more about how California is dealing with the effects of the drought.

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Media Contacts:
Roger Bloom, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 445-3777

Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478 or (208) 220-1169

New Recreational Groundfish Regulations Now in Effect

Black and yellow groundfish
Black and yellow rockfish

The California Fish and Game Commission adopted several changes to the current recreational groundfish regulations that apply to ocean fishing in state waters up to three miles from shore. The new regulations were adopted by the Commission at its Feb. 11 meeting, and became effective March 10.

The open season dates and allowable fishing depths for the recreational Groundfish Management Areas are as follows:

  • Northern – Open May 15 through Oct. 31, in 20 fathoms (120 feet) or less
  • Mendocino – Open May 15 through Oct. 31, in 20 fathoms (120 feet) or less
  • San Francisco – Open April 15 through Dec. 31, in 30 fathoms (180 feet) or less
  • Central – Open April 1 through Dec. 31, in 40 fathoms (240 feet) or less
  • Southern – Open March 1 through Dec. 31, in 60 fathoms (360 feet) or less

Staff from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) worked closely with recreational stakeholders to develop the regulations prior to submission to and approval by the Commission. “The changes are designed to allow as much fishing opportunity as possible while remaining within allowable catch limits,” said Marci Yaremko, CDFW’s State/Federal Fisheries Program Manager. “However, as we do each year, we will be closely monitoring catches up and down the state during the open season to ensure we don’t exceed any limits.”

Other changes include:

  • An increase in the lingcod bag limit from two to three fish
  • A sub-bag limit of five black rockfish within the 10-fish Rockfish, Cabezon, Greenling (RCG) complex bag limit
  • Statewide closure of the California scorpionfish fishery from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31

Take and possession of bronzespotted rockfish, canary rockfish, cowcod and yelloweye rockfish will remain prohibited statewide.

For more information about recreational groundfish regulations and to stay informed of in-season changes, please call the Recreational Groundfish Hotline at (831) 649-2801 or check CDFW’s Marine Region Groundfish Central website at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/groundfishcentral/index.asp.

Media Contacts:
Joanna Grebel, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 601-2279
Carrie Wilson, CDFW Communications, (831) 649-7191

Fisheries Agencies Report Positive Outlook for 2015 Ocean Salmon Fishing Season

Media Contacts:
Jennifer Simon, CDFW Ocean Salmon Project, (707) 576-2878

Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

At the annual salmon informational meeting held in Santa Rosa today, state and federal fishery scientists presented encouraging news for sport and commercial salmon anglers. Forecasts suggest there are 652,000 adult Sacramento River fall Chinook salmon in the ocean this year, along with 423,800 adults from the Klamath River fall run. Fish from these runs comprise the vast majority of salmon taken in California’s ocean and inland fisheries.

James Phillips holding a Chinook salmon
CDFW Environmental Scientist and Ocean Salmon Project team member James Phillips, holding a Chinook salmon. CDFW photo by Kristie Amtoft.

These forecasts, which were higher than last year, will be used over the next few months by fishery managers to set sport and commercial fishing season dates, commercial quotas, and size and bag limits.

“The forecasts are encouraging and suggest that California fisheries may see salmon seasons in 2015 that have increased opportunities over last year,” said Melodie Palmer-Zwahlen, a senior environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Chinook salmon that will be harvested in ocean fisheries in 2015 hatched 2-4 years ago and, as a result, have not been highly impacted by California’s drought. Starting next year, it is anticipated that future ocean salmon fishing opportunities may be impacted by the ongoing drought.

Season dates and other regulations will be developed by the Pacific Fishery Management Council and California Fish and Game Commission over the next few months. For more information on the salmon season setting process or general ocean salmon fishing information, please visit the Ocean Salmon Project website at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/oceansalmon.asp, or call the salmon fishing hotline at (707) 576-3429.

Anglers Urged to Return Overdue 2014 Sturgeon Fishing Report Cards

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reminding sturgeon anglers to return their 2014 Sturgeon Fishing Report Cards as required by law. Although the deadline to report their catch was Jan. 31, so far only about 9,000 (or 18 percent) of the 49,263 report cards sold have been returned. The sport fishing regulations require that all sturgeon anglers return their Report Cards, even the sturgeon anglers who did not encounter sturgeon and who did not fish for white sturgeon.

Without the data gleaned from the late report cards, CDFW’s scientific understanding of the white sturgeon and green sturgeon populations is incomplete. This makes it harder for scientists to recognize possible overfishing of the diminished white sturgeon population and to document accidental catch of the threatened green sturgeon. In this case, addressing the uncertainty could mean new harvest restrictions.

“Anglers who return their cards are providing data that is otherwise unavailable and it’s very good data.  They are also helping to protect the white sturgeon fishery and rebuild both sturgeon populations.  Anglers who do not return report cards are complicating those efforts,” said Marty Gingras, CDFW Sturgeon Program Manager. “We’re asking anglers to send the information to us now, even though the deadline has passed. It’s truly better late than never.”

Anglers can return the overdue report cards by mail to the address printed on the card or use the CDFW website at https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Fishing – 758846-harvest-reporting

White sturgeon and green sturgeon are anadromous, meaning they move from the salt and brackish water to spawn in freshwater. They are both native California species and can live to be more than 100 years old.  California’s white sturgeon and green sturgeon populations were substantially reduced by commercial fishing in the 19th century and the recreational and commercial sturgeon fisheries were (with minor exceptions) closed from 1901 through 1953. Only recreational fishing for sturgeon has been allowed since 1954, and that fishery has become increasingly restricted over time in an effort to rebuild the populations and protect the fishery.

Media Contact:
Marty Gingras, CDFW Sturgeon Program Manager, (209) 234-3486
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

CDFW to Hold Public Meeting Regarding Pacific Halibut Management

Media Contacts:
Caroline McKnight, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 649-7192

Carrie Wilson, CDFW Communications, (831) 649-7191

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites the public to attend a meeting to discuss the 2015 recreational Pacific halibut fishing season dates under consideration for California.

halibut2
A CDFW sampler taking data from a sport-caught Pacific halibut in 2012. CDFW photo by E.W. Roberts III.

The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015 at the City of Eureka Wharfinger Building in the Bay Room, located at 1 Marina Way, Eureka (95501) from 6-8:30 p.m.

The meeting will provide information on Pacific halibut management and include a discussion on 2015 season options for the recreational fishery. The public is encouraged to provide input to managers and representatives that will aid in the development of future Pacific halibut management for 2015 and beyond.

Pacific halibut fishing regulations are developed through a collaborative regulatory process involving the Pacific Fishery Management Council, National Marine Fisheries Service, California Fish and Game Commission and the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

For more information regarding Pacific halibut management, please refer to the CDFW website at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/pacifichalibut.asp.