The salmon season opener sets the pace for our local ocean fishing and draws the most interest from sport fishing anglers. This season was no different, as boats prepared weeks ahead, and stories of fish were soon to follow.
Monterey Bay was the epicenter of the salmon bite along the coast.
As daybreak approached that morning, boats started to hail fish on throughout the bay. As the morning settled in, boats converged upon a hot salmon bite just south of Moss Landing.
Many boats caught their limits of two salmon per person and were able to make it home early. Private boats trolling seemed to be the most productive, while boats mooching were also able to catch limits. Charter boats had a fish per rod to limits for their passengers. Salmon were caught from Fort Bragg to Morro Bay, and prospects look promising for salmon anglers this season.
The Pacific Fisheries Management Council has determined a positive outlook for this year’s salmon stocks on our coast. Based on the Klamath and Sacramento rivers’ estimated stocks, the season is very generous. It is estimated that 819,400 fall Chinook salmon will return to the Sacramento River. Klamath returns are expected to be four times greater than in recent years.
The science and estimated numbers may be disputed, but one fact remains: There are a lot of salmon out there.
The sport fishing season for salmon is set for April 7 through Oct. 7 from central California to the Mexico boarder. The minimum size is 24 inches in the San Francisco and Monterey areas until July 5, but otherwise it is just 20 inches.
The commercial salmon season will be set from Point Arena to Point Sur, May 1 through June 4, June 27 through Aug. 29 and Sept. 1 through 30.
From Point Sur to the Mexican border, the season will stay open May 1 through Aug. 29 and Sept. 1 through 30.
Hopefully there are as many salmon out there as the Pacific Fisheries Management Council believes, and hopefully after sport and commercial catches are complete, there will be enough escapement to ensure adequate spawning and abundant future stocks.
It will be nice to have a good salmon season for fresh fish, fun fishing and our local economy.
- Mike Baxter has fished in the Monterey Bay Area since he was a boy and has been a licensed charter boat captain for more than 20 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also hosts a fishing show on radio station KSCO (1080) from 8:06 to 9 p.m. Thursdays through the end of August.