California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Summary of California Ocean Salmon Seasons

Recreational Ocean Salmon Regulations

Map of California including key landmarks for the recreational ocean salmon fishery

OR/CA Border to Horse Mountain

Open May 10 - September 7, 2014

  • Daily bag limit: 2 salmon of any species except coho
  • Minimum size limit: 24 inches total length
  • Klamath Control Zone* (KCZ) closed in August
  • Closures around mouth of Klamath, Smith and Eel rivers (see CDFW regulation §27.75)

* Klamath Control Zone: The ocean area at the Klamath River mouth bounded on the north by 41°38'48" N. lat. (approximately six nautical miles north of the Klamath River mouth); on the west, by 124°23'00" W. long. (approximately 12 nautical miles off shore); and on the south, by 41°26'48" N. lat. (approximately six nautical miles south of the Klamath River mouth).

Horse Mountain to Point Arena (Fort Bragg)

Open April 5 - November 9, 2014

  • Daily bag limit: 2 salmon of any species except coho
  • Minimum size limit: 20 inches total length

Point Arena to Pigeon Point (San Francisco)

Open April 5 - November 9, 2014

  • Daily bag limit: 2 salmon of any species except coho
  • Minimum size limit: 24 inches total length through June 30; 20 inches total length thereafter

Pigeon Point to U.S.-Mexico Border (Monterey and south)

Opens April 5 - October 5, 2014

  • Daily bag limit: 2 salmon of any species except coho
  • Minimum size limit: 24 inches total length

General Sport Regulations

  • Possession limit: No more than two daily bag limits may be possessed when on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit.
  • Retention of coho salmon or steelhead trout is prohibited in any ocean fishery.
  • Salmon may only be taken by angling as defined in Section 1.05. No sinkers or weights exceeding 4 lbs may be used, except that a fishing line may be attached to a sinker or weight of any size if such sinker or weight is suspended by a separate line & the fishing line is released automatically by a mechanical device from the sinker or weight when any fish is hooked.
  • North of Pt. Conception: No more than 2 single-point, single-shank barbless hooks shall be used & no more than 1 rod per angler when fishing for salmon or fishing from a boat with salmon on board.
  • Horse Mt. to Pt. Conception: When fishing with bait and angling by any means other than TROLLING1, no more than two (2) single-point, single-shank barbless CIRCLE HOOKS 2 shall be used. The distance between the two hooks must not exceed 5 inches when measured from the top of the eye of the top hook to the inner base of the curve of the lower hook and both hooks must be permanently tied in place (hard tied).
    NOTE: These special gear restrictions apply to each angler fishing for salmon or fishing from any boat or floating device with salmon on board.

    1. TROLLING is defined as angling from a boat or floating device that is making way by means of a source of power, other than drifting by means of the prevailing water current or weather conditions.
    2. A CIRCLE HOOK is defined as a hook with a generally circular shape and a point which turns inwards, pointing directly to the shank at a 90-degree angle.

Commercial Ocean Salmon Regulations

Map of California including key landmarks for the commercial ocean salmon fishery

OR/CA Border to Humboldt South Jetty (KMZ)

September 12-30 or 4,000 Chinook quota

  • Five days per week, open Friday through Tuesday
  • Minimum size limit: 27 inches total length
  • Landing and possession limit
    • 20 Chinook per vessel per day September 12-16
    • 30 Chinook per vessel per day September 19-23, 26-30*
  • All salmon caught must be landed within the area and within 24 hours of any closure of the fishery
  • Klamath Control Zone (KCZ) closed (12 mile square centered on Klamath River mouth)
* Inseason action taken to increase daily landing and possession limit effective September 19, 2014.

Horse Mountain to Point Arena

June 19-30; July 15 - August 29*; September 1-30

  • Minimum size limit: 27 inches total length
  • During September, all fish caught in the area must be landed north of Point Arena
  • When the KMZ quota is open, all fish caught in the area must be landed south of Horse Mountain

Point Arena to Pigeon Point

May 1 – June 30; July 15 - August 29*

  • Minimum size limit: 27 inches total length

September 1-30

  • Minimum size limit: 26 inches total length
  • During September, all fish caught in the area must be landed south of Point Arena

Point Reyes to Point San Pedro

October 1-3, 6-10, and 13-15 (Monday through Friday)

  • Minimum size limit: 26 inches total length
  • All salmon caught must be landed between Point Arena and Pigeon Point

Pigeon Point to U.S./Mexico Border

May 1 - June 30; July 15 - August 13*

  • Minimum size limit: 27 inches total length

* All salmon must be offloaded within 24 hours of the August 29th closure

General Commercial Regulations

  • All salmon except coho; all commercial salmon must be landed in California
  • Single point, single shank barbless hooks are required
  • No more than 6 lines are allowed per vessel
  • Compliance with minimum size or other special restrictions: All salmon on board a vessel must meet the minimum size and other special requirements for the area being fished and the area in which they are landed if that area is open or has been closed less than 96 hours. Salmon may be landed in an area that is closed more than 96 hours only if they meet the minimum size and other special requirements for the area in which they were caught AND it is not otherwise prohibited in the regulations.
  • Transit through closed area with salmon on board: It is unlawful for a vessel to have troll gear in the water while transiting any area closed to salmon fishing while possessing salmon.
  • Barbless circle hooks1 required when fishing with bait and fishing by any means other than trolling2
  • 1. A CIRCLE HOOK is defined as a hook with a generally circular shape and a point which turns inwards, pointing directly to the shank at a 90-degree angle.
    2. TROLLING is defined as angling from a boat or floating device that is making way by means of a source of power, other than drifting by means of the prevailing water current or weather conditions.

Note: Any person required to complete a landing receipt shall accurately record the total number of Chinook salmon landed in the "Note Pad" field of the landing receipt (Fish & Game Code § 8043, Title 14, §182). Federal regulations also require the total number of Pacific Halibut be recorded if caught and landed incidentally during commercial salmon fishing.

Additional Information