Final 2019 California ocean salmon sport and commercial fishing regulations have not yet been determined. Fishery regulations that take effect in April 2019 for the area south of Horse Mountain will be finalized at the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) meeting in March. Regulations in effect on or after May 1, 2019, will be adopted at the PFMC meeting in April.
Salmon Season Blog Update: 10/2018
As we get ready for the close of recreational Salmon Season in a few weeks on October 31, we take a look back at the 2018 California ocean recreational fishing report.
Naturally, the question on every angler’s mind is, “How was your fishing experience this year?”
Reports out of Bodega show that this last month of salmon fishing continues to be hot with many reporting their boats limiting out. So there’s still time for you to get into the action.
There’s a Reason They Call It Fishing
Jorge and I had only one trip out of Bodega this year in June. We did fairly well on rockfish but were skunked where it came to hauling in salmon, as were many on the boat we chartered. Really I did not have any bananas with me!
It may have just been “one of those days” or a matter of lady luck not being on board with us. In fact, our good fishing buddy who was also out that same day made his limits in a couple of hours and headed home in time for lunch. This is why, my husband is quick to remind me, they call it fishing and not shopping!
2018 Salmon Take an Indication of a Successful 2019 Season?
Given everyone else’s angling success this year, our friend, Mike Aughney of USAFishing.com, took out his crystal ball out and predicted:
It’s rare to wrap up a good season with even better signs of the next to come. I will go on the record and say that next season could possibly be as good as 1988. I may not be publishing this report then but all the signs (the only negative is a possible El Nino) are pointing to an excellent year.
Ok, Mike- I’m going to hold you to it!
New Authority in Regulations
As all anglers have discovered, this year the California Fish and Game Commission adopted a new process through which State recreational fishing regulations for ocean salmon. They automatically conformed to federal regulations for both Salmon and Pacific Halibut (Section 1.95, Title 14, CCR). This new process eliminated the need to adopt changes to regulations for these species through the Commission rulemaking process.
The 2018 season started off with the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) approving a reduced recreational and commercial ocean salmon seasons for the West Coast on April 10. This resulted in cuts of about a third for the ocean sport fishery and over half of the commercial fishery, compared to a normal season.
“This year’s greatly shortened commercial and sport seasons are caused by losses we sustained during the drought,” John McManus, executive director of the Golden Gate Salmon Association said. “This could have been avoided if more water had been reserved to keep the Sacramento cool enough to support spawning salmon. The State Water Resources Control Board is in a position to ensure we don’t see a repeat in the next drought and we hope they act to protect California’s unique salmon runs.”
For more information, see the Council website’s salmon season recommendations for 2018 salmon management: https://www.pcouncil.org/?p=53627
Anglers Get Involved
We encourage anglers to have a say in the protection and process of regulations development. There are two regulating bodies you should be aware of and consider participating in actively.
Golden Gate Salmon Association
The Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA) mission is to protect and restore California’s largest salmon producing habitat comprised of the Central Valley rivers that feed both the Bay-Delta ecosystem and the communities that rely on salmon as a long-term, sustainable commercial, recreational and cultural resource. Salmon recovery is their passion.
It is their long list of accomplishments that have allowed for the successful hooking of this year’s coastal salmon. They include helping to steer $20 million in federal salmon restoration funds to projects aimed primarily at habitat restoration for Central Valley salmon runs. Even more astoundingly, through their efforts to push both state and federal hatchery managers to truck fish over the past three years of drought that we continued to have a salmon fishing season this year and into the next.
Learn more about all they are doing to make salmon fishing great and how you can support their efforts. Visit their website: goldengatesalmon.org.
Pacific Fishery Management Council
We encourage anglers to become involved and have a say in the federal regulation development process for ocean fisheries. Visit the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s website (www.pcouncil. org).
There are many ways in which you can become involved:
- Contact the staff officer for salmon, Robin.Ehlke, or call (503) 820-2410, or toll-free 1-866-806-7204 ext. 410.
- Read the Salmon management plan https://www.pcouncil.org/salmon/fishery-management-plan/current-management-plan/
- Contact a member of the Salmon Advisory Subpanel: https://www.pcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/sas.pdf
- Contact a member of the Salmon Technical Team: https://www.pcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/stt.pdf
- Read the “How to Get Involved”page on the Council website
- Comment. Comments may be mailed, emailed, or delivered in person at a Council meeting. See the Council’s contact information.
- Attend a Council meeting or subcommittee meeting (see the Council’s Meeting and Events information)
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.
The 2018 locations still open for recreational fisheries through October 31 is between Horse Mountain to Pigeon Point. We know it as Fort Bragg and San Francisco areas. The minimum size limit is 20 inches total length.
Salmon Areas Now Closed
The area from Pigeon Point to the U.S./Mexico border (Monterey area and south) opened on April 7 and closed July 2. The minimum size limit was 24 inches.
The area from the Oregon/California border to Horse Mountain, California (the Klamath Management Zone, or KMZ) opened June 1 and closed September 2. The minimum size limit was 20 inches.
Limits and Restrictions
The daily bag limit is two Chinook per day. No more than two daily bag limits may be possessed when on land.
Furthermore, when fishing on a boat in ocean waters you may not possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit.
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.
Coho Salmon Protected During Salmon Season
In order to protect the species during salmon season, it’s important for anglers to remember that the taking of Coho Salmon is strictly prohibited in all ocean fisheries.
As a result of their protected status under the Endangered Species Act, these four species of coho salmon are forbidden:
- Lower Columbia River coho
- Oregon Coast coho
- Southern Oregon/Northern California Coast coho
- Central California Coast coho
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.
We suggest anglers call the National Marine Fisheries Service hotline at (800) 662-9825 for the most up-to-date information. The CDFW website also provides current information for ocean salmon regulations at wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon.
For complete ocean salmon regulations in effect, 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.
Plan Ahead Now for Your Next 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.
Most importantly, 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 Hooking Fresh Salmon and Other Fish
If you prefer to forego rolling out of bed at the hour of oh-dark-hundred to make the excursion for fish, we recommend making your way up to Sea Ranch Abalone Bay and stay in bed for as long as your little heart desires!
Then as you begin to yearn for fresh salmon make your way over to Surf or Gualala Supermarket. Their fish departments will help you pick out that perfect fish to certainly satisfy your taste buds. Another option is to keep your eye out for local fishermen like Captain Bill and King Ling often found in Gualala at noon across from the Farmers Market selling their catch of the day.
But as noted above, my husband calls that shopping, not fishing!Book now