California’s recreational salmon fishery will open in ocean waters on Saturday, April 6 in the Monterey management area, between Pigeon Point (37° 11’ 00” N. latitude) south to the U.S.-Mexico border. In the Fort Bragg and San Francisco management areas, between Horse Mountain (40° 05’ 00” N. latitude) and Pigeon Point, the recreational salmon fishery will open on Saturday, April 13. The Klamath Management Zone (Horse Mountain to the Oregon state line) will remain closed for the month of April. The remaining 2019 season dates will be finalized next month.
At its meeting this week in Vancouver, Wash., the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) made the decision to open limited sections of the California coast on April 6 and April 13. Returns of Sacramento River fall Chinook and Klamath River fall Chinook in 2018 were insufficient to overcome their “overfished” status this year.
“Continued concerns over the overfished status of Sacramento and Klamath River fall Chinook, as well as protections for threatened and endangered stocks, are expected to limit salmon seasons in certain times and areas this year,” said Kandice Morgenstern, an environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). “Despite these constraints, we expect California sport anglers to see a greater amount of fishing opportunity overall compared to last year.”
Traditionally, fishing in the Monterey area is better early in the season. Recreational fishing representatives prioritized opening this area ahead of others on the California coast, though it may lead to decisions to close the season earlier in Monterey than in other areas. Delaying the opener in areas to the north should allow for more fishing opportunity there later in the year, when catch rates are typically better.
Final season dates will be decided during the April 9-16 PFMC meeting in Rohnert Park. The public is invited to comment on the PFMC’s season proposals at that meeting, at a hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26 at the Hampton Inn (1160 Airport Park Blvd.) in Ukiah, or through the PFMC website at www.pcouncil.org.
In April, the minimum size limit in the Fort Bragg management area is 20 inches total length. In the San Francisco and Monterey management areas, the minimum size limit is 24 inches total length.
Anglers are advised to check for updated information when planning a salmon fishing trip. Season dates, bag/possession limit information, and gear restrictions can be found on CDFW’s ocean salmon webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon. 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.