The 2018 ocean salmon season is off to a great start, but many believe the outlook for inland waters is dismal. In an effort to increase salmon returning to the spawning grounds, some ocean seasons have been shortened, along with changes to daily catch and possession limits inland.
The area known as the Fort Bragg region opened June 17 and, so far, charter boats, guides and individuals are reporting limits of big fish from Fort Bragg to Half Moon Bay.
The Klamath River fall-run chinook may be one of the better fishing opportunities, but fall-run returns for Sacramento River have been low for the third consecutive year; pushing them into overfished status.
The 2018 recreational ocean salmon season for the California coast is as follows:
The minimum size limit is 20 inches total length in all areas north of Pigeon Point and 24 inches in all areas south of Pigeon Point. The daily bag limit is two chinook salmon per day. No more than two daily bag limits may be possessed when on land.
On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit. Retention of coho salmon (also known as silver salmon) is prohibited in all ocean fisheries off California.
The 2018 recreational inland salmon season for California inland waters is as follows:
Seasons for Central Valley fishery start on traditional dates on all sections of all rivers. Only one salmon per day may be retained and the possession limit is two salmon.
In the Klamath River the season will open Aug. 15 and continue through Dec. 31. The Trinity River season will be open from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31. The daily bag limit is two salmon, no more than one over 22 inches. The possession limit is six salmon, no more than three over 22 inches.
Regulations approved by the CDFW commission since the 2017 season created a positive effect for the coming Central Valley salmon season. The new regulations – including closure of the American River’s Nimbus Basin due to construction; reduction in daily bag and possession limit for the Central Valley, and a shortened leader length regulation to reduce snagging – were pivotal in setting seasons on the Sacramento River fall chinook to reduce harvests and rebuild stocking goals.
The 2018 regulations will be published in the 2018-2019 Sport Fishing Regulations Supplement and posted on the CDFW website in May. Additional information is on the CDFW’s ocean salmon webpage or call CDFW’s ocean salmon hotline (707) 576-3429 or the Klamath-Trinity River hotline (800) 564-6479.