The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) at its meeting in Vancouver, Washington, today adopted three fishing season options for ocean sport and commercial salmon fishing in 2019.
The Council will make a final decision on salmon seasons at its meeting in Rohnert Park, California, on April 11-15. Detailed information about season starting dates, areas open, and catch limits for all three alternatives are available on the Council’s website at www.pcouncil.org.
The California Coast from Pigeon Point south, including Monterey Bay, will open for sport salmon fishing on April 6. The San Francisco and Fort Bragg regions will open just a week later on April 13.
Anglers in the Klamath Management Zone (KMZ) (from Eureka north) are expecting an earlier and longer season than last year as well.
All KMZ alternatives include proposed fisheries from late May through late August/early September in the Klamath Management Zone in both California and Oregon.
“Ocean sport fishing below Horse Mountain, California will see increased opportunity compared to last year due to some improved forecasts,” according to the PFMC. “Alternatives for 2019 fisheries were structured to target spawning escapements in excess of what is required under the Salmon Fishery Management Plan in an effort to rebuild Sacramento River and Klamath River fall Chinook.
“The 2019 salmon season options are in and we are ready to go fishing,” said John McManus, President of the Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA).
“Our commercial fishermen may be starting as early as May, 1 to provide those delicious Omega 3’s for those of us who don’t fish and for the foodies who simply love salmon,” said McManus. “No matter which season option is ultimately selected, the commercial fleet will have more time on the water this year, which is great for anyone who loves to eat California’s most delicious, sustainable natural food. ”
“This is going to be a great salmon season because we had good rain in 2017 when this year’s fish were babies exiting the Central Valley where they were born. The heavy rain and snow runoff that spring provided the kind of flows needed to hide the baby salmon from predator fish and birds and speed their delivery to the ocean. This greatly boosted their survival,” he stated.
“Everytime we get decent rains and runoff in the spring we get much better salmon survival which becomes apparent two years later when the salmon come back as big strong adults. This season you’ll hear and see a lot of Fish On,” McManus said.
“Inland fishermen and women who fish the Sacramento River, its tributaries, and the Mokelumne River, should all experience better fishing this season too,” said McManus.
The National Marine Fisheries Service has forecasted 379,632 adult Sacramento River Fall Chinook (SRFC) salmon are now in the ocean off the West Coast, compared to 223,854 a year ago at this time. The number is derived from the number of jacks (two-year-olds), 41,184, that returned to the Sacramento River and its tributaries in 2018.
The Klamath River Fall Chinook (KRFC) abundance forecast is also promising. The age 3 forecast is 167,504, the age 4 forecast is 106,119 and the age 5 forecast is 599, a total of 274,182 adult salmon. That is lower than 2018 forecast, but still an improvement over low forecast numbers seen in recent years, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).
However, not all is well for our salmon fisheries, as Sacramento fall and winter chinook salmon, as well as coastal chinook and northern stocks of coho and Columbia lower Columbia River natural tule fall Chinook continue to suffer for decades of decline.
“Although some forecasts are up over last year, this year’s salmon runs are still challenging for ocean fishermen and managers,” said Council Executive Director Chuck Tracy. “In the north, conservation requirements for Fraser River (Canada) and other natural coho runs, as well as lower Columbia River natural tule fall Chinook, will constrain fisheries. In the south, we need to protect Sacramento River fall and winter Chinook, as well as California Coastal Chinook.”
For more information, see https://www.pcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/D5a_Supp-STT-Rpt-1_MAR2019BB_Revised.pdf pages 6 and 16