Recreational Ocean Salmon Fishing Opens North of Horse Mountain May 16

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announces the recreational ocean salmon season in the Klamath Management Zone (KMZ), the area between the Oregon/California border and Horse Mountain (40° 05’ 00” N. latitude), will open May 16, making all ocean waters in California available to salmon fishing. The season will continue through May 31 and reopen June 16-30, July 16-Aug. 16, and Sept.  1-5 with a 20-inch minimum size limit.

Anglers fishing in the KMZ should be conscious of closures at the mouths of the Klamath and Smith rivers throughout the season, as well as a closure at the mouth of the Eel River during August and September. See California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.75 for complete river mouth closure information.

In the Fort Bragg area, which extends from Horse Mountain to Point Arena (38° 57’ 30” N. latitude), the season will remain open through Nov.  13 with a 20-inch minimum size limit. In the San Francisco area, which extends from Point Arena to Pigeon Point (37° 11’ 00” N. latitude), the season will continue through Oct. 31 with a 24-inch minimum size limit through April 30 and 20-inches thereafter.  In the Monterey area between Pigeon Point and Point Sur (36° 18’ 00” N. latitude) the season will continue through July 15 while areas south of Point Sur will continue through May 31. The minimum size limit in Monterey and areas south is 24-inches total length.

CDFW and the Pacific Fishery Management Council have constructed ocean salmon seasons to reduce fishery-related impacts on endangered Sacramento River winter Chinook. Drought conditions and unsuitable water temperatures in the upper Sacramento River led to greater than 95 percent mortality of juvenile brood year 2014 and 2015 winter-run Chinook. Coupled with abnormally warm and unproductive ocean conditions, fisheries managers and industry representatives chose to take additional protections beyond those required by the Endangered Species Act biological opinion and harvest control rule.

Available ocean data suggest that winter-run Chinook are concentrated south of Pigeon Point, especially south of Point Sur, during the late summer and early fall. Strategic closures and size limit restrictions implemented in the San Francisco and Monterey management areas are intended to minimize harvest and catch-and-release mortality of winter-run Chinook.

The daily bag limit is two Chinook per day and no more than two daily bag limits may be possessed when on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit.

For anglers fishing north of Point Conception (34° 27’ 00” N. latitude), no more than two single-point, single-shank barbless hooks shall be used, and no more than one rod may be used per angler when fishing for salmon or fishing from a boat with salmon on board. In addition, barbless circle hooks are required when fishing with bait by any means other than trolling between Horse Mountain and Point Conception.

CDFW reminds anglers that retention of coho salmon is prohibited in all ocean fisheries.

Final sport regulations will be published in the CDFW 2016 Supplemental Fishing Regulations booklet available in May at www.wildlife.ca.gov/regulations. For complete ocean salmon regulations, please visit CDFW’s ocean salmon webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429.

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Media Contacts:
 Jennifer Simon, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2878

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

Sacramento River Closure to Go Into Effect April 1

A temporary emergency regulation closing all fishing within 5.5 miles of spawning habitat on the Upper Sacramento River begins on April 1, 2016 and will remain in effect through July 31, 2016. Enhanced protective measures are also proposed in the ocean sport and commercial salmon fisheries regulations for the 2016 season.

The temporary 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 temporary closure will protect critical spawning habitat and eliminate any incidental stress or hooking mortality of winter-run Chinook salmon by anglers.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) scientists believe the additional protection provided in the emergency river closure and potential ocean fishing restrictions will help avoid a third year of substantial winter-run Chinook salmon loss.

Historically, winter-run Chinook spawned in the upper reaches of Sacramento River tributaries, including the McCloud, Pit, and Little Sacramento rivers. Shasta and Keswick dams now block access to the historic spawning areas. Winter-run Chinook, however, were able to take advantage of cool summer water releases downstream of Keswick Dam. In the 1940s and 1950s, the population recovered, but beginning in 1970, the population experienced a dramatic decline, to a low of approximately 200 spawners by the early 1990s. The run was classified as endangered under the state Endangered Species Act in 1989, and as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1994.

The Fish and Game Commission adopted CDFW’s proposal for the 2016 temporary closure at its regularly scheduled February meeting.

Media Contact:
Jason Roberts, CDFW Northern Region, (530) 225-2131
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Feather River Hatchery Fish Ladder to Open Sept. 14

The fish ladder at Feather River Hatchery in Oroville will open Monday, Sept. 14, signaling the start of the spawning season on the Feather River. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) hatchery workers will open the gates in the ladder about 8 a.m. and will take more than 3 million spring-run eggs and 12 million fall-run eggs over the next two months in order to produce Chinook salmon for release next spring.

Visitors can observe the salmon through the viewing windows and from the observation deck located at the base of the fish barrier dam. At the main side of the hatchery, visitors can observe CDFW technicians performing the spawning process. Thousands of school children tour the Feather River Hatchery each year. For more information about spawning schedules and educational opportunities at the Feather River Hatchery, please call (530) 538-2222.  For information about hatchery tours, please call (530) 534-2306.

There are eight state-run salmon and steelhead hatcheries, all of which will participate in the salmon spawning effort. Those hatcheries, along with federally run hatcheries, will be responsible for the release of 40 million juvenile salmon into California waters. These massive spawning efforts were put in place over the last 50 years to offset fish losses caused by dams that block salmon from historic spawning habitat.

Once the young salmon reach 2 to 4 inches in length, 100 percent of the spring-run stock and 25 percent of the fall-run stock will be adipose fin clipped and implanted with coded wire tags prior to release. CDFW biologists use the information from the tags to chart the survival, catch and return rates of the fish.

For more information about California’s fish hatcheries, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/hatcheries.

Media Contacts:
Penny Crawshaw, Feather River Hatchery, (530) 538-2222
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 201-2958