North Coast Salmon Season Looking Good
Department of Fish and Game (DFG) biologists are expecting a promising north coast salmon fishing season through Labor Day, September 5. The sport season opened Saturday in the Klamath Management Zone, which stretches from the Oregon border to Horse Mountain, located just north of Shelter Cove.
The return of a healthy sport fishing season is excellent news for anglers and businesses in the region. For the last three years, salmon fishing has been relatively nonexistent on the north coast due to fishery restrictions designed to protect California salmon stocks and a lack of local salmon in nearshore areas.
Early in the season, fishing success and opportunity is very weather-dependent. Fair weather on Saturday afforded anglers with the opportunity to pursue salmon from Crescent City to Fields Landing with "hit-or-miss" catches reported. On Sunday, the weather turned stormy and those few salmon anglers who ventured out on the rough seas returned early from their trip without much luck. Field samplers with DFG's California Recreational Fisheries Survey Program contacted approximately 200 anglers fishing from private skiffs and commercial passenger fishing vessels and checked almost 100 chinook salmon landed during the opening weekend. Heads were collected from all adipose fin-clipped salmon because the missing fin indicates that the salmon snout was implanted with a microscopic coded wire tag that reveals the hatchery of origin and other information important to California salmon management.
"This is a promising start to the salmon season," said Ed Roberts, DFG associate marine biologist. "Weather hampered anglers on Sunday, but on Saturday most boats landed a few legal fish and also released some undersized fish."
Anglers reported that cold water conditions and scattered bait made locating schools of salmon difficult. Increasing winds on Sunday severely limited effort and success. As the season proceeds, waters are expected to warm and anglers will be better able to locate schools of bait and salmon. Spring weather is notoriously difficult to predict while summer days normally bring calmer seas.
Wardens checking anglers found good overall compliance with salmon regulations. The most common violation continues to be the use of barbed hooks while fishing for salmon. Anglers north of Point Conception are reminded that they are required to use only barbless hooks while fishing for salmon and that once a salmon is onboard their boat or other floating device, all anglers must use barbless hooks, even if they switch to bottom fishing.