Northern CA Saltwater

Poor Sacramento forecast cuts San Francisco salmon season

BY ANDY MARTIN/WON Staff WriterPublished: Mar 20, 2018

Opener may be as late as July!

SAN FRANCISCO — Anglers hoping for a repeat of last year’s extraordinary salmon season outside of the Golden Gate will have to wait until early June and possibly as late as mid-July to get their lines back in the water under ocean fishing regulations being considered by the federal government.

San Francisco anglers will lose the opportunity to fish in May and at least part of June under the three options approved last week by the Pacific Fishery Management Council. Most years, salmon out of San Francisco opens in April.

oceansalmonopensOCEAN SALMON OPENS April 7 and runs to April 30 south of Pigeon Point this season, and won’t open until June or July north of there, so there will be huge fishing pressure on the southern waters the first month of the season this year. King salmon salmon will be big and bright by then, however, like this one caught by Jonathan Pham of Sacramento while trolling aboard the Sundance out of Emeryville during a previous season.

With an ocean abundance of Sacramento River fall king salmon only 250,000 fish, biologists said they will cut back on saltwater seasons in California and Southern Oregon to make sure enough fish return this fall to spawn.

The three options approved by the PFMC for the Point Arena to Pigeon Point area will be up for public review for the next two weeks, and then one will be adopted by the PFMC at its April meeting.

The first option would allow salmon fishing out of the Golden Gate June 9-Oct. 31. Anglers would be allowed two king salmon a day at least 20 inches. Fishing would be allowed seven days a week. Under Option 2, the season would run July 1-Oct. 31. Option 3 would allow fishing July 21-Oct. 31.

Charter operators and other sport anglers knew the seasons would be cut heading into last week’s PFMC meeting, but many were surprised how many days were trimmed to provide enough spawner escapement for the Sacramento River.

Last year’s seasons were shut down out of Eureka and Crescent City, and limited out of Fort Bragg, because of a record-low ocean abundance forecast for Klamath River fish. This year, the Klamath estimate is much higher, from 50,000 adult fish last year to more than 350,000 adult kings this year, but the low returns to the Sacramento dealt a blow to salmon seasons out of the Golden Gate.

Biologists said only 3,000 kings returned to Coleman National Fish Hatchery near Redding last season. That was only enough to produce 6 million eggs, half of the hatchery’s goal of 12 million.

“Although some abundance forecasts are improved over last year, the 2018 salmon runs still present a challenge for ocean fishermen and managers throughout the West Coast,” said Chuck Tracy, the executive director of the PFMC. “The conservation needs of Sacramento River fall Chinbook and Rogue and Klamath coho will constrain fisheries.”

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