California Halibut Limit Cut Significantly

California halibut
The author’s son with a healthy California halibut. Jim Hendricks

In an emergency regulation to protect the California halibut fishery in the northern portion of the Golden State, the California Fish and Game Commission on has voted unanimously to reduce the daily bag limit from three fish to two fish. These regs are expected to take effect June 1, 2023.

“The reduced California halibut limit is designed to protect the resource amid increased recreational fishing pressure due to limited fishing opportunities and changes in other ocean fisheries including king salmon,” according to a press statement from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The fishing for Pacific halibut (a different species from California halibut) fishery remains unaffected with a daily bag limit of one.

The federally managed king salmon season in ocean waters off California has been completely closed for 2023 because populations in the ocean waters off California have reached historic lows (see related story). As a result, fishery managers fear that the salmon closure will place excessive fishing pressure on California halibut populations as anglers turn to other species in the absence of king salmon. The emergency California halibut regs apply to waters north of Point Sur, Monterey County, where salmon fishing usually enjoys great popularity among anglers.

During the same meeting, the Fish and Game Commission enacted a full closure of California’s recreational salmon fishing season in the Klamath River Basin and Central Valley rivers, an action that was fully expected to follow the closure of king salmon fishing for 2023. The Commission also voted to close recreational salmon fisheries in the Smith River and Eel River, and the summer season in the Klamath and Trinity rivers.