California’s recreational salmon fishery will open in ocean waters on Saturday, April 4 in the Monterey management area, from 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 11 rather than April 4. The Klamath Management Zone (Horse Mountain to the Oregon state line) will remain closed for the month of April. The remaining 2020 season dates will be finalized next month.
At its meeting this week in Rohnert Park the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) made the decision to open sections of the California coast on April 4 and April 11. The delayed opening will help managers achieve conservation goals for Klamath River fall Chinook, which are projected to return in low numbers this year, while providing anglers with opportunity to catch Sacramento River fall Chinook.
Traditionally, fishing in the Monterey area is better early in the season, prompting recreational fishing representatives to prioritize opening this area ahead of others on the California coast. 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 4-10 PFMC meeting in Vancouver, Washington. The public is invited to comment on the PFMC’s season proposals at that meeting or at a hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24 at the Red Lion Hotel, 1929 Fourth St. in Eureka. Comments can also be submitted 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 web page at: wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon. Public notification of any in-season change to conform state regulations to federal regulations is made through the National Marine Fisheries Service ocean salmon hotline at (800) 662-9825.