California’s recreational salmon fishery will open in ocean waters on Saturday, April 3 in the Monterey management area, from Pigeon Point (37° 11’ 00” N. latitude) south to the U.S./Mexico border, with a minimum size limit of 24 inches. All other areas of the California coast will remain closed until further notice. The remaining 2021 season dates and associated regulations will be finalized next month.
Although the San Francisco and the Fort Bragg management areas were originally scheduled to open in April, on the advice of salmon fishery representatives, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) made the decision to delay the openers in these areas to limit ocean fishery impacts due to poor stock forecasts. Both Klamath River fall Chinook and Sacramento River fall Chinook have reduced ocean abundance forecasts for the 2021 season compared to long term averages, and the PFMC is taking steps to ensure that enough salmon will return to rivers this fall to meet spawner abundance goals.
Traditionally, fishing in the Monterey management area is better early in the season, prompting recreational fishing representatives to prioritize its opening ahead of areas to the north. Although seasons for the San Francisco, Fort Bragg and Klamath management areas are not yet known, the season alternatives that are currently under consideration prioritize opportunity later in the summer, when catch rates are typically better.
Final season dates will be decided during the virtual PFMC meeting to be held April 6-9 and 12-15. The public is invited to comment on the PFMC’s season proposals at that meeting or at a virtual public hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 23. Details on how to attend the PFMC meeting, public hearing, and ways to provide public comment can be found on the PFMC website at www.pcouncil.org
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 www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon or by calling the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429. 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.