California Salmon Fishing Explodes

The season is one of the best fishermen have seen in more than 25 years.

California’s Chinook, or king salmon run, detailed recently in Salt Water Sportsman, is one of the best fishermen have seen in more than 25 years.

Northern California coastal anglers are reporting some of the best Chinooks salmon fishing in more than two decades, according to the California Department of Fish and Game.

“In my 26 years of working with salmon on the North Coast, I have never seen such a remarkable beginning to a salmon season. If the start of the season is any indication of what’s in store for the second half, anglers should not miss this opportunity of a lifetime. Get out there and take advantage of this epic bite!” said DFG Northern Regional Manager Neil Manji.


Salt Water Sportsman Regional Editor Ron Ballanti’s recent feature on the return of the salmon to the San Francisco area alerted anglers to the possibility of another strong season this year. Concurrent with the opening of this year’s season, mild weather and favorable sea conditions contribute are making that a reality.

“Thanks to the favorable ocean conditions and plentiful food, all the reports we are receiving from the coast are very positive,” said Manji. “The charter boats are coming back early enough to make two trips a day because everyone has been catching their limits.”

Earlier this year fisheries managers estimated there would be thousands of adult salmon off the coast available to fishermen. In the wake of several years of closed and reduced salmon fishing seasons, a strong population of the fish is now available to anglers as they stage along the coast on preparation for their run inland to their traditional spawning grounds.


Early forecasts predicted 819,000 adult Sacramento River fall-run Chinook and 1.7 million Klamath River fall-run Chinook adults off the coast. Since the opener in April, recreational harvest estimates for Chinook salmon off the California coast are the highest recorded since 2004. North of Horse Mountain, the totals are the highest since 2006 and five times those from 2011 during the same time period.

The San Francisco area harvest is the highest since 2006, and landings in the Monterey area are the best seen since 2004. In the Fort Bragg area, landings have been more moderate, although comparable to seasons that occurred there in 2003 and 2004.

The daily bag and possession limit is two salmon per person and the minimum size limit is 20 inches.


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