California’s recreational salmon fishery will open April 2 in ocean waters from Point Arena (38° 57’ 30” N. lat) south to the U.S./Mexico border, with a minimum size limit of 24 inches. Openings for north of Point Arena will be determined in mid-April.
Ocean abundance forecasts have increased over the prior year for Sacramento River Fall Chinook and Klamath River Fall Chinook, California’s two primary target stocks. However, fishery managers recommended the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) take a more precautionary approach to 2022 ocean salmon seasons. Fisheries have performed better than expected in recent years, raising concerns for sensitive, non-target stocks of salmon, and fewer fish have returned to the rivers to spawn than expected. These concerns, along with the continued threat of drought and the persistent overfished status of Klamath River Fall Chinook since 2018, prompted the PFMC to approve additional fishery restrictions in 2022.
“The 2022 fishing season will be a mix of good and bad news,” said Grace Easterbrook, an environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). “For recreational anglers wishing to pursue salmon off the Central Coast, there will be ample opportunity if the fish show. However, fishing seasons in the north will be more constrained due to the persistent low abundance of Klamath River Fall Chinook.”
The PFMC approved three fishing season alternatives for public review on Monday, March 14 at its meeting in San Jose and will continue to accept public input before finalizing the recreational and commercial seasons next month. The alternatives are available on the PFMC website at www.pcouncil.org. A public hearing is scheduled for March 22, where the public is invited to comment on the PFMC’s season proposals. Final season dates will be decided at the April 6-13 meeting in Seattle, Washington. Details on how to attend the public hearing and PFMC meeting, as well as instructions to provide public comment, can also be found on the PFMC website.
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 webpage 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.