Recreational ocean salmon fishery almost ready for 2019 season

Most of the California coast will be open for the fishery in April; remaining season dates will be finalized soon.

STATEWIDE—The 2019 recreational ocean salmon fishery will open off most of the California coast during the first two weeks of April; dates for the remaining sections of coast to be open for the fishery will be announced next week. Season open dates were announced during the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) March meetings in Vancouver, Washington.

Recreational ocean salmon fishing will open on April 6 in the Monterey management area (Pigeon Point and south to U.S.-Mexico border). The Fort Bragg and San Francisco management areas, located between Horse Mountain and Pigeon Point, will have its recreational salmon fishery open on April 13.

Pigeon Point is at 37° 11’ 00” N. latitude, while Horse Mountain is at 40° 05’ 00” N. latitude.

The recreational salmon fishery will remain closed for all of April in the Klamath management area, which is north of Horse Mountain and up to the California-Oregon border.

Season dates for the stretch of ocean still closed will be finalized at some point at April.

Members of the PFMC decided to open portions of the California coast for the ocean salmon fishery after returns of Chinook salmon from the Klamath and Sacramento rivers in 2018 showed the species’ population was insufficient to overcome their “overfished” status this year.

“Continued concerns over the overfished status of Sacramento and Klamath River fall Chinook, as well as protections for threatened and endangered stocks, are expected to limit salmon seasons in certain times and areas this year,” Kandice Morgenstern, an environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) said “Despite these constraints, we expect California sport anglers to see a greater amount of fishing opportunity overall compared to last year.”

PFMC members will meet again in April at Rohnert Park, California and decide when to open the rest of the fishery for 2019.

“Traditionally, fishing in the Monterey area is better early in the season,” Department of Fish and Wildlife staff said in a published statement. “Recreational fishing representatives prioritized opening this area ahead of others on the California coast, though it may lead to decisions to close the season earlier in Monterey than in other areas. 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.”

Anglers, stakeholders and members of the public are invited to a hearing for season proposals on March 26. The hearing will be at 7 p.m. and take place at Hampton Inn, 1160 Airport Park Boulevard in Ukiah. Those who can’t attend the meeting in person can watch live on the PFMC website, which is www.pcouncil.org.

The minimum size limit for catches in the Fort Bragg management area is 20 inches in total length; the minimum size limit is 24 inches in total length for the San Francisco and Monterey management areas.

Keep up with the latest on season dates, bag/possession limit information and gear restrictions online at (www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon). Call the ocean salmon hotline at 800-662-9825 for in-season changes of state regulations to federal form.

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