Despite the abundance of rain and favorable spawning conditions we've seen this winter, the impact of the drought years on the King salmon is upon us. The salmons' ability to spawn when the streams had so little water, in addition to poor ocean conditions upon their youngs' arrival to the ocean, made for a challenging couple of years for California's salmon populations. The salmon who hatched during the drought years will be ready to return to spawn this winter, and low returns are expected.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) options for the 2017 salmon season were extremely limited in response to the low salmon return estimates, with particular concern for the Klamath River and the Sacramento River winter salmon runs. As a result, although we will have a salmon season, the most productive months and regions for salmon fishing in California will be closed for commercial fishing.
California Commercial Salmon Season 2017
Commercial fisheries from Cape Falcon to the Florence South Jetty, Oregon open on April 15 and will run through July 31 with intermittent closures to reduce impacts on Klamath fall Chinook. This area will also be open in September and October. Fisheries from the Florence South Jetty to Horse Mountain, California will be closed for the entire season to reduce impacts on Klamath River fall Chinook.
Between Horse Mountain and Point Arena (in the Fort Bragg area), there will be a 3,000 Chinook quota ocean fishery during the month of September, after 2017 Klamath River fall Chinook spawners have entered the Klamath River.
In the area from Point Arena to Pigeon Point (San Francisco), the season will be open for most of August and all of September. From Pigeon Point to the Mexico border (Monterey), the Chinook season will be open in May and June. There will also be a season from Point Reyes to Point San Pedro (subset of the San Francisco area), open October 2 to 6 and October 9 to 13.
The limited season is designed to protect the return spawners associated with the recent drought years, so that their population can rebuild. The end of the drought and improved ocean conditions will go a long way in supporting the overall population, but it will take some time.
It's unlikely that fresh, local California King salmon will be available in Noyo Harbor this summer. The F/V Animal Fair will be fishing for black cod, rockfish, and hagfish for most of the summer, and potentially the small opener for salmon in September. We will give advance notice of any black cod or rockfish sales.