After Coordination with Local Government, CDFW Lifts Fishing Delay in Mono County

As requested by county officials, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham is lifting the delay of the trout opener in Mono County. Beginning May 23, trout season will be open in the county.

The trout season was originally scheduled to open in Mono County on April 25, 2020. In April, CDFW had discussions with county leadership regarding trout fishing, which typically draws a high tourism influx to the area. Local officials were concerned about the transmission of COVID-19 and its potential to put a strain on their healthcare systems. Further, all non-essential businesses including lodging, dining and camping options were closed in compliance with state and local public health officers’ orders. Thus, CDFW, in consultation with Fish and Game Commission President Eric Sklar, delayed the opener through May 31, 2020.

However, in a letter yesterday, Mono County officials requested that CDFW end the delay before May 31, indicating that the county received approval from the California Department of Public Health to move into the Governor’s Phase Two, Stage Two Resilience Roadmap and would begin discussions of reopening. Though county officials requested the opening on May 22, CDFW required one additional day for consultation and processing this request, thus the delay in Mono County will expire at midnight on May 22 and fishing can resume on May 23, 2020.

This decision does not affect the trout season in any other county.

CDFW reminds anglers to abide by all state and local health guidelines regarding non-essential travel and physical distancing. Staying home in order to stay healthy is still the best way to keep yourself and others safe. Anglers are also advised to check with local authorities on the status of access points as many site closures and access restrictions exist and may change daily.

Pursuant to the emergency regulation approved by the Commission, CDFW will provide accurate information for the angling public at this website or by phone at (916) 445-7600.

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

After Coordination with Local Government, California Department of Fish and Wildlife Delays Trout Season Openers in Three Counties

As requested by county officials, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham delayed the start of the trout opener in Alpine, Inyo and Mono counties. The director made this decision in consultation with California Fish and Game Commission President Eric Sklar.

The trout season was scheduled to open in these three counties this Saturday, April 25. The delay to the opener in these counties expires May 31, 2020.

“After talking with the county representatives, we agreed this was a necessary step toward being responsive to local needs in this public health emergency,” said CDFW Director Bonham. “These counties asked for our help, and we responded.”

Specifically this means all waters in these three counties not currently open to fishing will remain closed to fishing until May 31. After local government coordination in Alpine, Inyo and Mono counties, CDFW is also making minor adjustments to bag and possession limits in waters that are currently open for fishing to protect and conserve the existing fisheries that may be affected by increased angling pressure or harvest. These modifications will also expire May 31. Pursuant to the emergency regulation approved by the Commission, CDFW will provide accurate information for the angling public online or by phone at (916) 445-7600.

Today’s decision does not affect the trout season in any other county.

Early this week, CDFW had discussions with county leadership regarding trout fishing, which typically draws a high tourism influx to these counties. Local officials are concerned that people traveling to these areas to fish would exacerbate the transmission of COVID-19 and put a strain on their healthcare systems. Further, all non-essential businesses in these counties including lodging, dining and camping options are closed in compliance with state and local public health officers’ orders.

On April 15, the California Fish and Game Commission authorized CDFW to temporarily delay, suspend or restrict recreational fishing if the director of CDFW, in consultation with the president of the Commission, finds that such action is necessary to protect against the threat from COVID-19 based on state, federal, local, and tribal public health guidance and public safety needs.

At the request of counties or tribes, CDFW will consider action to address needs regarding fishing seasons amongst the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are a county or tribal representative with questions or would like to provide input on potential angling related delays or restrictions, please contact Roger Bloom, Acting Branch Chief, Fisheries Branch, by email at Roger.Bloom@wildlife.ca.gov.

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

Delay in California’s 2020 Recreational Ocean Salmon Opener

California’s recreational ocean salmon fishery will be delayed statewide through the month of April, despite plans made earlier this year for the fishery to open in some locations as early as this Saturday, April 4.

The delay is the result of an in-season action taken Tuesday by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), on advice from the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (PFMC) salmon industry advisors and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). The April delay is a response to physical distancing requirements and widespread closures of launch ramp facilities, charter boat operations and restrictions to harbor and marina access due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Delaying the opener of the fishery will reduce impacts to stocks of concern and provide more fishing opportunity later in the summer months than would otherwise be possible.

The April delay negates the opening dates previously scheduled for the Monterey, San Francisco and Ft. Bragg management areas that had been announced in CDFW’s March 10, 2020 press release. The Klamath Management Zone (Horse Mountain to the Oregon state line) will also remain closed.

Recreational salmon season dates and regulations that will take effect on or after May 1 in all areas of California will be determined at the April 5-9 PFMC meeting, which will be held via webinar due to the COVID-19 health crisis. To learn more about how to attend and participate virtually, as well as provide input on existing season proposals, please visit the PFMC’s website at www.pcouncil.org.

Anglers are always 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 web page. 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.

CDFW reminds Californians that everyone has the responsibility to flatten the COVID-19 curve by maintaining physical distance from other people of 6 feet or more when recreating in the outdoors, and staying home if they are sick.

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Media Contacts:   
Pete McHugh, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2870
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

CDFW Director Issues Declaration to Delay Commercial Dungeness Crab Season South of Mendocino/Sonoma County Line

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham has issued a declaration delaying the Nov. 15, 2019 start date for the California Dungeness crab fishery south of the Mendocino/Sonoma county line. Under the authority of section 8276.1(c)(1) of the Fish and Game Code, the Director may restrict take of commercial Dungeness crab after making a preliminary determination that there is a significant risk of marine life entanglement due to fishing gear. The opening of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery in that area (Districts 10, 17,18 and 19) will be delayed until Nov. 22, 2019. Pursuant to Fish and Game Code, section 8283, traps may be set and baited 18 hours in advance of the opening date. A pre-soak period can commence at 6 a.m. on Nov. 21, 2019.

CDFW would like to acknowledge the commitment by the Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group and various stakeholders to help inform management of this important commercial fishery. CDFW understands the crab fishery’s value to coastal communities and is committed to ensuring a robust fishery while taking appropriate steps to minimize marine life entanglements to the extent practicable.

Before taking this action, the Director considered all recommendations and information provided within the public notice period that ended at 5 p.m. on Nov. 4 in advance of enacting this delay. Comments received resulted in the Director shortening the delay from eight to seven days.

Through the course of the crab season, CDFW will engage regularly with the Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group to review scientific information and advise efforts to minimize the risk of whale and sea turtle entanglements. Based on that process, CDFW may take additional management actions in response to future risk assessments. For more information related to the risk assessment process or this delay, please visit CDFW’s Whale Safe Fisheries webpage. Commercial fishery participants should also be aware that additional delays are possible due to human health risks from domoic acid and should monitor the California Department of Public Health’s website for the latest results.

For more information on Dungeness crab, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab.

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

Ryan Bartling, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2877

North Coast All-Depth Recreational Fishing to Begin Nov. 1

Ever wanted to catch a widow rockfish? The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is pleased to announce a new recreational fishing opportunity for groundfish north of Point Arena (38° 57.5’ N. lat.) from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, 2019.

For two decades, recreational fishing for groundfish species in deep waters off the California coast has been completely off limits, driven by the need to protect certain stocks that have been overfished. This marks the first time anglers off the northern California coast will be allowed to fish for groundfish without needing to abide by fishing depth limit regulations.

The all-depth fishery will take place only in November and December 2019, and only north of Point Arena. The newly open areas will allow anglers to target groundfish species in the midwater column, such as widow and yellowtail rockfish, as well as species found on the bottom. There are no special gear requirements, though unless otherwise specified, regulations require anglers to use not more than two hooks and one line to target groundfish. All other season dates, bag limits, size limits and other special area closures still apply.

“We’re hoping there will be calm weather windows on the north coast, so anglers can get out and try their luck with a different variety of rockfish and other groundfish species that are found in deeper depths these next two months,” said CDFW Federal Fisheries Program Manager Marci Yaremko.

While the all-depth fishery has been proposed since 2017, encounters with yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus) in 2017 and 2018 exceeded the federal limit. In-season regulatory action in those years was needed to restrict depth limits in most areas of the state and also prevented the all-depth fishery from occurring. Following the outcome of the most recent yelloweye stock assessment indicating the population is rebuilding much sooner than expected, the federal limit increased in 2019, allowing the all-depth fishery this year.

California’s rugged north coast offers many opportunities to fish for groundfish from vessels. Launch and harbor facilities for private vessels are available from Fort Bragg to Crescent City but may vary by port and time of year. For those wishing to take a fishing trip on a party or charter vessel, there are multiple businesses offering fishing out of Fort Bragg, Shelter Cove, Eureka, Trinidad and Crescent City. An internet search for a specific port and “rockfish fishing” can quickly provide business contact information, scheduling details and cost of trips and gear rentals.

Anglers who take advantage of the deeper depths during November and December may encounter yelloweye rockfish. CDFW continues to recommend anglers avoid fishing in areas where yelloweye rockfish are known to occur. If encountered, yelloweye rockfish should be immediately returned to the water using best fish handling practices, and anglers should use a descending device in order to minimize injury and mortality. CDFW also encourages anglers who encounter yelloweye rockfish to change fishing locations to prevent catch of the species.

For more information regarding groundfish regulations, management and fish identification tools, please visit the CDFW Marine Region Groundfish website.

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Media Contacts:
Melanie Parker, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 649-2814
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988