Ocean Salmon Fishery Information

Frequently Asked Questions for the 2023 Ocean Salmon Season

Why was the ocean salmon season closed?

Sacramento River Fall Chinook and Klamath River Fall Chinook are the two primary stocks fished in the State of California. This year, the abundance forecasts (PDF) for these stocks are very low following poor fish survival in 2022, which resulted in the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) providing guidance to the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) to take extraordinary precautions to protect salmon. Based on salmon fishery data, stock status, input from fishery stakeholders, and other information, on April 6, the PFMC recommended a full closure of the California commercial and recreational ocean salmon fisheries (PDF) for the remainder of 2023.

Please see the CDFW press release.

Recreational Ocean Salmon Fisheries

Will I be able to recover the cost of my annual sport fishing license since I can’t fish for salmon this year? Can I return my license for a refund?

No. Sport fishing licenses are considered valid and in use from the time of purchase. California sport fishing licenses and fees are established in Fish and Game Code Section 7149.05. This section does not provide CDFW with authority to refund sport fishing license fees. Also, sport fishing licenses are not species specific. With more than 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, 4,172 lakes and reservoirs, 80 major rivers, and more than 1,100 miles of coastline, and many fishable species, there are still a multitude of fishing opportunities available to any person with a valid California sport fishing license.

Commercial Ocean Salmon Fisheries

Will permit holders receive any kind of relief/financial assistance if they can’t fish?

Fisheries are subject to several factors that can cause sudden and unexpected losses, leading to serious economic impact for those who fish for a living, and their communities. In these instances, a state governor or an elected or duly appointed representative of an affected fishing community can request a fishery disaster determination from the Secretary of Commerce. More information about fishery disaster assistance can be found here: Frequent Questions: Fishery Disaster Assistance (NOAA Fisheries).

On April 6, Governor Newsom submitted a request to the U.S. Department of Commerce (California Salmon Disaster Request Letter April 6, 2023 (PDF)) to expedite a determination of a fishery resource disaster for the 2023 Sacramento River Fall Chinook and Klamath River Fall Chinook ocean and inland fisheries. This request is the first step in the process for a federal disaster determination. If the U.S. Department of Commerce approves a disaster, the fishery becomes eligible for a congressional appropriation of funds for fishery disaster relief. If Congress appropriates funding, CDFW will work with NMFS and affected entities to develop a spend plan that is consistent with the statutory requirements and conditions of the appropriation.

Map of key landmarks for the recreational ocean salmon fishery

Smith Closure Map - click to enlarge in new window
Smith Closure Map - Click to enlarge
Klamath Closure Map- click to enlarge in new window
Klamath Closure Map - Click to enlarge
Eel Closure Map - click to enlarge in new window
Eel Closure Map - Click to enlarge

Recreational Ocean Salmon Fishing

The recreational California ocean salmon fishery is CLOSED IN ALL REGIONS.

Commercial Ocean Salmon Fishing

The commercial California ocean salmon fishery is CLOSED IN ALL REGIONS.

Additional Information