Are you ready for the 2017 Salmon Season?
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced ocean waters recreational salmon fishery will begin Saturday, April 1, 2017. However, it’s anticipated the 2017 Salmon Season will be shortened or even closed early.
At least anglers will have the month of April to get their poles wet and anticipate the sweet Zzzzzzzzz sounds ringing from their reels.
The remainder of the 2017 salmon season won’t be decided next month. Meanwhile we wait for the final verdict by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) at its April 6-11 meeting in Sacramento, and by the Fish and Game Commission at its April 13 teleconference.
Brace for Low Catch Rates
Hopefully, this year’s season will not end up being a hard hearted April Fools joke.
Unfortunately the previous years’ droughts and poor river runs continue to negatively impact the salmon run. No doubt this will also greatly impact the haul out rate.
“Salmon abundance estimates are down this year, which is likely due to California’s recent drought and ocean conditions that were poor for salmon survival. Low forecasts for Klamath River fall run and continued concern over Sacramento River winter run are expected to limit fishing opportunity for the 2017 season,” said CDFW environmental scientist Kandice Morgenstern.
Forecasts suggest there are 230,700 Sacramento River fall run Chinook adults in the ocean this year, along with 54,200 Klamath River fall run adults. Both forecasts are lower than those of recent years, with the forecast for Klamath fall run being among the lowest on record. Salmon from these runs typically comprise the majority of salmon taken in California’s ocean and inland fisheries.
“With a poor forecast for Klamath fall run and continued concerns over the winter run, California anglers will see reduced Chinook fishing opportunity as compared to last year,” said Brett Kormos, a senior environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).
Open Water Salmon Fishery Range
California ocean sport fishing alternatives for areas south of Horse Mountain (40° 05’ 00” N. latitude) to the U.S./Mexico border provide seasons that are fairly conservative in comparison to recent years to protect Klamath River fall Chinook and Sacramento River winter Chinook. These protective measures include shortened seasons and mid-season closures.
The recreational salmon fishery north of Horse Mountain (Eureka area) will remain closed for all of 2017 due to historically low numbers of Klamath River fall Chinook salmon.
Limits and Restrictions
The daily bag limit is two Chinook per day and no more than two daily bag limits may be possessed when on land.
When fishing on a boat in ocean waters you may not possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit.
Anglers need to remember that taking of coho salmon is prohibited in all ocean fisheries.
For complete ocean salmon regulations in effect during the month of April, please visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) ocean salmon webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429.
Fishing Gear Regulations
For anglers fishing north of Point Conception (34° 27’ 00” N. latitude) you may use no more than two single-point, single-shank barbless hooks. No angler may use more than one rod, whether 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 Arena (38° 57’ 30” N. latitude), the minimum size limit is 20 inches total length. For areas south of Point Arena, the minimum size limit is 24 inches total length.
Potential for Early Close of 2017 Salmon Season
Sadly the seasons may close early or be subject to closure periods in 2017. Therefore, visit CDFW’s ocean salmon webpage or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline for the latest information on open fishing dates and locations. Many areas are likely to see reduced fishing opportunities this year compared with 2016 due to lower estimates of salmon stocks.
Our greatest concern is this year’s season will only last 30 days in April.
Pacific Fishery Management Council Offers Three Options
The Pacific Fishery Management Council is currently considering three alternatives for California’s 2017 commercial and recreational ocean salmon regulations, including season dates and size limits. They are also geographically specific.
The three options on the table give Mendonoma sport anglers the month of April to fish with varying dates for reopening:
- May 15 through October 31st.
- June 15th to October 31st.
- Close after April 30th with no reopening.
Word on the street is NMFS is pushing for option three (April only). Hopefully option two, or the month of April and then June 15th through Halloween will be the option of choice.
Listed below find all three options in detail based on geography.
1. Horse Mountain to Point Arena Options:
April 1-30 then…
- Reopening May 15th to October 31st
- Continuing through to May 31st and then July 1st to the 12th and then September 1 through November 12th.
- Only April 1-30th.
2. Point Arena to Pigeon Point Options:
April 1-30th then…
- Reopening May 15th to October 31st
- Reopening June 15th to October 31st.
- Only April 1-30th
3. Pigeon Point to Point Sur Options:
April 1-30 then…
- Continuing on through July 15th
- Continuing on through June 30th
- April 1-30th
Click here for a pdf chart of the full the proposed recreational seasons.
Hopefully we’ll see options that are closer to the first and second options. You will find final sport regulations published in 2017-2018 Supplemental Sport Fishing Regulations booklet . The regulations will also be online in May at www.wildlife.ca.gov/regulations.
For information on the salmon season process or general ocean salmon fishing information, visit the Ocean Salmon Project website. Or you may call the salmon fishing hotline at (707) 576-3429.
Plan Ahead Now for Your Salmon Season
As of this writing, Abalone Bay is available for booking April 15- May 1. We have limited availability through the rest of the tentative 2017 Salmon Season.
Party boats generally depart from south of Sea Ranch at Bodega Bay or north of us at Fort Bragg. During peak seasons they often run two trips a day.
Important: Be certain you have purchased your fishing license and have it on your person while fishing. Also check with your boat’s captain to verify if they will sell a one day’s license. Some are NOT offering that service.
Insiders Tip for Easy Catching Fresh Salmon and Other Fish
If you prefer to forego the crack of dawn excursion for fish try waiting at the Gualala Supermarket. Frequently local fishermen will stop by to sell their catch of the day. But my husband calls that shopping, not fishing!