Off The Hook

by Dan Bacher, April 11, 2012

Photo courtesy, Jeff McCann

Recreational salmon fishing opened on the California coast from Horse Mountain in Humboldt County to the U.S./Mexico border on Saturday with good fishing reported by moochers and trollers fishing Monterey Bay and the San Mateo County Coast.

Brian Cutting, captain of the Chubasco out of Randy's Fishing Trips in Monterey, reported 32 salmon for 30 anglers at noon on Saturday. The anglers hooked the fish while mooching with anchovies in Monterey Bay.

The four anglers fishing with Ultimate Fishing Charters in Santa Cruz caught limits of chinooks from 8 to 15 pounds by 9:30 a.m., according to Dennis Pfanner of Sacramento Pro Tackle. The fishermen trolled with hoochies at 80- to 125-feet deep off Moss Landing.

Frank Salazar at the Emeryville Sportfishing Center reported that one boat, the Sundance, returned early with seven limits of salmon ranging from 7 to 12 pounds after trolling off the San Mateo County Coast. “As of noon, the larger party boats had anywhere from 5 to 20 fish,” said Salazar.

The Bodega Bay opener started slow; the New Sea Angler reporting 3 salmon to 10 pounds as of 1:30pm Saturday. Captain Rick Powers expects to see improved salmon action with a few more days of calm weather.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) at its meeting in Seattle on Thursday adopted a set of generous ocean salmon seasons that provides both recreational and commercial fishing opportunities coastwide in 2012. The salmon season recommendation will be forwarded to the National Marine Fisheries Service for approval by May 1.

“Everyone’s pleased to see such an abundance of the major Sacramento River and Klamath River work-horse stocks,” said Council Chairman Dan Wolford. “After achieving all of the conservation goals for weak stocks in 2012, both recreational and commercial ocean salmon fishermen should enjoy a good season this summer.”

The estimated largest number of returning Sacramento River fall Chinook since 2005 will fuel ocean salmon fisheries off California and Oregon. Fisheries south of Cape Falcon, in northern Oregon, are supported by Sacramento River fall Chinook.

In 2008 and 2009, poor Sacramento returns, spurred by a “perfect storm“ of record water exports out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, declining water quality and poor ocean conditions, led to the largest ocean salmon fishery closure on record.

“The abundance forecast of Sacramento River fall Chinook in 2012 is 819,400, far above the number needed for optimum spawning this fall (122-180,000 fish),” according to the PFMC. “The Klamath fall Chinook forecast for 2012 is about 4 times greater than average and the highest forecast on record since 1985.”

The Oregon Coast natural coho forecast in 2012 is about 290,000, the largest forecast since at least 1996.

Recreational fisheries in southern Oregon and California are for Chinook only and run from May 1 through Sept. 9 in the Brookings/Eureka/Crescent City area, and from Saturday to at least Oct. 7 in areas further south.

The recreational seasons for California are s:

• Oregon/California Border to Horse Mountain

May 1 through Sept. 9 (C.6).

All salmon except coho. Seven days per week, two fish per day (C.1). Chinook minimum size limit of 20 inches total length. Klamath Control Zone closed in August (C.4.e). See California State regulations for additional closures adjacent to the Smith, Eel, and Klamath rivers.

• Horse Mt. to Point Arena (Fort Bragg), Saturday through Nov. 11. Seven days per week. All salmon except coho, two fish per day (C.1). Chinook minimum size limit of 20 inches total length.

• Point Arena to Pigeon Point (San Francisco), Saturday through Nov. 11. Seven days per week. All salmon except coho, two fish per day (C.1). Chinook minimum size limit of 24 inches total length through July 5; 20 inches thereafter.

• Pigeon Point to U.S./Mexico Border (Monterey), Saturday through Oct. 7. Seven days per week. All salmon except coho, two fish per day (C.1). Chinook minimum size limit of 24 inches total length through July 5; 20 inches thereafter.

The California Fish and Game Commission will discuss and is expected to adopt in-river recreational salmon seasons for the Klamath/Trinity and Sacramento systems and ocean recreational salmon regulations at a Special Meeting/Teleconference Call at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 18 at the Resources Building, 1416 Ninth Street, Room 13201, Sacramento.

Anglers can expect to see a full salmon season on the Sacramento, American, Feather, Trinity and Klamath rivers similar to last year's season.

“A range of varied season dates are proposed to continue salmon fishing in the American, Feather and Sacramento rivers and expand angler access in the Feather and Mokelumne rivers,” according to the Commission.

For more information, go to: http://tinyurl.com/c4eanz9

While the hatchery supported fall-run chinook salmon runs have bounced back, the spring and winter run chinook runs continue to decline, due to increased exports of Delta water to corporate agribusiness and southern California in recent years and other factors.

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