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

Closed (season will be decided in April)

Horse Mountain to Point Arena (Fort Bragg)

Opens April 4-30, 2015

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

Point Arena to Pigeon Point (San Francisco)

Opens April 4-30, 2015

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

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

Opens April 4-30, 2015

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

* Regulations effective on or after May 1 will be decided by the California Fish and Game Commission and the Pacific Fishery Management Council in April 2015.

General Sport Regulations

  • Retention of coho salmon or steelhead trout is prohibited in any ocean fishery.
  • 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.
  • Salmon may not be filleted on any boat or prior to being brought ashore.
  • 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.

  • Recovery of coded-wire tag from salmon head: Any person in possession of a recreationally taken salmon with a missing adipose fin (the small, fleshy fin on the back of the fish between the back fin and tail) shall immediately relinquish the head of the salmon, upon request by an authorized agent or employee of the Department, to facilitate the recovery of any coded-wire tag (§1.73).

Commercial Ocean Salmon Regulations

Regulations effective on or after May 1 will be decided by the Pacific Fishery Management Council in April 2015.

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