Ocean Salmon Fishery Information

Recreational Ocean Salmon Regulations
Commercial Ocean Salmon Regulations
Additional Information About Regulations
Inseason Estimates
Annual Coded-Wire Tag Recovery Reports
Klamath River Fall Chinook Fishery Disaster Information
2020 California Ocean Salmon Preseason Process: Calendar of Events and Contact Information

Recreational Ocean Salmon Regulations*

Map of California including key landmarks for the recreational ocean salmon fishery

OR/CA Border to Horse Mountain (KMZ)

  • June 6 - August 9
  • Minimum size limit: 20 inches total length
  • Klamath Control Zone** (KCZ) closed in August 
  • Additional closures around mouth of Klamath, Smith & Eel rivers (see §27.75 T14 CCR)

Horse Mountain to Point Arena (Fort Bragg)

  • May 1 - November 8
  • Minimum size limit: 20 inches total length

Point Arena to Pigeon Point (San Francisco)

  • May 1 - November 8
  • Minimum size limit: 20 inches total length

Pigeon Point to U.S./Mexico Border (Monterey and South)

  • May 1 - October 4
  • Minimum size limit: 24 inches total length

General Sport Regulations

  • Daily bag limit: 2 salmon of any species except coho (silver) salmon.
  • 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.
  • Retention of coho (silver) salmon or steelhead trout is prohibited in any ocean fishery.
  • Salmon may not be filleted on any boat or prior to being brought ashore.
  • Salmon may only be taken by angling as defined in §1.05 T14 CCR. 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 and the fishing line is released automatically by a mechanical device from the sinker or weight when any fish is hooked.
  • North of Point Conception: No more than two single-point, single-shank barbless hooks shall be used and no more than one rod per angler when fishing for salmon or fishing from a boat with salmon on board.
  • Horse Mountain to Point Conception: When fishing with bait and angling by any means other than TROLLING1, no more than two 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 T14 CCR).

*NMFS may by inseason action close recreational fisheries between May 1 and June 15, 2020 in the Fort Bragg, San Francisco, and Monterey subareas on the recommendation of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The recommendation to close would be informed by an evaluation of actions or orders enacted by jurisdictions in these subareas to address public health concerns related to COVID-19 that would make access to the ocean salmon recreational fishery impracticable (e.g., restrictions on activities or closure of harbors, launch ramps and other forms of access). If NMFS closes these subareas May 1-15, May 16-31, June 1-15, or an additive combination of these specific date ranges in succession; NMFS may by inseason action extend the season in the California KMZ beyond August 9 not to exceed August 31 if the STT determines that such opening would not increase impacts to stocks in the FMP beyond those described in Table 5 of Pre-III for 2020, and would otherwise meet the objectives described in that table, including but not limited to 50/50 harvest sharing with the Klamath River Tribes (Yurok and Hoopa Valley Tribe).

*NMFS may close fisheries through inseason action on the recommendation of the affected state(s) of Washington, Oregon or California where the recommendation to close is informed by an evaluation of actions or orders promulgated or issued by jurisdictions in these areas to address public health concerns related to COVID-19 concluding that these actions would likely make access to the fishery impracticable (e.g., restrictions on activities or closure of harbors, launch ramps and other forms of access) or would make information essential to manage and implement the fishery unavailable. NMFS should open fisheries closed on this basis through inseason action upon notice from the affected State(s) that said actions or orders making access to the fishery impracticable have been lifted and information essential to manage and implement the fishery would be available.

**Klamath Control Zone: The ocean area at the Klamath River mouth bounded on the north by 41°38'48" N. lat. (approximately 6 nautical miles north of the Klamath River mouth); on the west, by 124°23'00" W. long. (approximately 12 nautical miles off shore); and on the south, by 41°26'48" N. lat. (approximately 6 nautical miles south of the Klamath River mouth).


Commercial Ocean Salmon Regulations*

Map of California including key landmarks for the commercial ocean salmon fishery 

OR/CA Border to Humboldt South Jetty (KMZ)

Closed in 2020

Horse Mountain to Point Arena (Fort Bragg)

  • August 1-10; September 1-30
  • Minimum size limit: 27 inches total length
  • All salmon must be landed in California and north of Point Arena

Point Arena to Pigeon Point (San Francisco)

  • May 6-12, 18-31; June 1-6, 14-30; July 13-31; August 1-28; September 1-30
  • Minimum size limit: 27 inches total length through August, 26 inches thereafter
  • All salmon caught in the area prior to September 1 must be landed and offloaded no later than 11:59 p.m., August 30
  • During September, all salmon must be landed south of Point Arena

Point Reyes to Point San Pedro

  • October 1-2, 5-9, 12-15
  • Minimum size limit: 26 inches total length
  • All salmon caught in this area must be landed between Point Arena and Pigeon Point 

Pigeon Point to U.S./Mexico Border (Monterey and South)

  • May 1-12, 18-31; June 1-6, 14-30; July 13-31; August 1-28
  • Minimum size limit: 27 inches total length
  • All salmon caught in the area prior to September 1 must be landed and offloaded no later than 11:59 p.m., August 30

General Commercial Regulations

  • All salmon except coho (silver) salmon; 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 48 hours. Salmon may be landed in an area that is closed more than 48 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.
  • Paper reporting requirements: Any person required to complete a landing receipt for the landing of salmon shall on the same landing receipt accurately record the total number of salmon landed in the “Note Pad” field of the landing receipt. Any person who lands salmon shall keep a copy of all landing receipts documenting salmon landings on board the fishing vessel that caught the salmon until 15 days after the last salmon season closure for the calendar year (§182 T14 CCR, §8043 Fish &Game Code).
  • Electronic reporting requirements: Beginning on July 1, 2019 any fish receiver or fisherman with a fisherman's retail license shall record landing information on an electronic fish ticket (§197 T14 CCR).
  • 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: When Pacific halibut are caught and landed incidentally in the commercial salmon troll fishery under an authorized license, both the number of Pacific halibut landed and the number of salmon landed must be recorded on the landing receipt or electronic fish ticket. Please see federal regulations for incidental Pacific halibut harvest requirements and restrictions.

*NMFS may close fisheries through inseason action on the recommendation of the affected state(s) of Washington, Oregon or California where the recommendation to close is informed by an evaluation of actions or orders promulgated or issued by jurisdictions in these areas to address public health concerns related to COVID-19 concluding that these actions would likely make access to the fishery impracticable (e.g., restrictions on activities or closure of harbors, launch ramps and other forms of access) or would make information essential to manage and implement the fishery unavailable. NMFS should open fisheries closed on this basis through inseason action upon notice from the affected State(s) that said actions or orders making access to the fishery impracticable have been lifted and information essential to manage and implement the fishery would be available.


Additional Information

  • link opens in new windowFederal Commercial Salmon Regulations
  • National Marine Fisheries Service Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline (800) 662-9825
  • CDFW - Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline (707) 576-3429
    CDFW - Ocean Salmon Project
    3637 Westwind Blvd., Santa Rosa CA 95403-1067

Inseason Estimates

Preliminary Inseason Estimates (September 16, 2020): Provided below are the 2020 California commercial and recreational Chinook salmon ocean fishery landings by number of fish for each management zone. 2019 estimates are also presented for the purpose of general comparison. Estimates for both years represent landings from the season opener through the end of August.  Note that season structure, total opportunity for harvest, and projected catch differed in 2019 and 2020. The 2020 estimates are preliminary, subject to change, and provided for informational purposes only. Final 2020 estimates will be published in the Review of 2020 Ocean Salmon Fisheries and available on the link opens in new windowPacific Fishery Management Council’s website in February 2021, where historic estimates can also be found.

Management Zone 2020 Commercial Catch (Preliminary) 2019 Commercial Catch 2020 Recreational Catch (Preliminary) 2019 Recreational Catch
Klamath Management Zone CLOSED 5,857 3,688 4,894
Fort Bragg 2,302 10,467 2,268 3,760
San Francisco 144,307 152,572 39,256 52,505
Monterey 35,386 95,942 2,314 23,103
Total Statewide 181,995 264,838 47,526 84,262

Annual Coded-Wire Tag Recovery Reports

Recovery of Coded-Wire Tags from Chinook Salmon in California’s Central Valley Escapement, Inland Harvest, and Ocean Harvest


Klamath River Fall Chinook Fishery Disaster Information

Status Update (October 12, 2020): The October 30th deadline for submitting Salmon Disaster Relief applications to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission is rapidly approaching. If you are an eligible member of the commercial fishing, buyer/wholesaler, charter/CPFV, or in-river guide sector and have received an application but have not yet submitted it, please do so at your earliest convenience. If you were expecting an application (envelope pictured here) per the terms of eligibility outlined in the link opens in new windowSpend Plan but haven’t yet received one at the address you have on file with CDFW, please contact us immediately at SalmonDisaster@wildlife.ca.gov or (707) 576-2870.