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Ocean Salmon Sport Regulations

Fishing Regulations Icon California Fishing

General Sport Regulations

Daily bag limit

2 salmon of any species except coho.

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 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 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 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 Hooks2 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.

OR/CA Border to Horse Mountain

June 1 – September 3

  • Minimum size limit: 20 inches total length

Horse Mountain to Point Arena (Fort Bragg)

June 17 – October 31

  • Minimum size limit: 20 inches total length

Point Arena to Pigeon Point (San Francisco)

June 17 – October 31

  • Minimum size limit: 20 inches total length

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

April 7 – July 2

  • Minimum size limit: 24 inches total length

To see a detailed map, please visit http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Salmon

1.73. SALMON

(a) Salmon includes Chinook, coho, pink, chum, and sockeye salmon.

(b) 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. The head may be removed by the fish owner or, if removed by the official department representative, the head shall be removed in a manner to minimize loss of salmon flesh and the salmon shall immediately be returned to the fish owner.

27.75. SALMON CLOSURES

(a) No salmon may be taken at any time in ocean waters at the Smith River mouth bounded on the north by 41°59’36” N. lat. (approximately 3 nautical miles north of the Smith River mouth), on the west by 124°16’24” W. long. (approximately 3 nautical miles offshore), and on the south by 41°53’30” N. lat. (approximately 3 nautical miles south of the Smith River mouth).

(b) No salmon may be taken at any time in ocean waters at the Klamath River mouth bounded on the north by 41°35’30” N. lat. (approximately 3 nautical miles north of the Klamath River mouth), on the west by 124°08’54” W. long. (approximately 3 nautical miles offshore), and on the south by 41°29’24” N. lat. (approximately 3 nautical miles south of the Klamath River mouth). In August, the ocean salmon closure expands into the “Klamath Control Zone.” The Klamath Control Zone is defined in federal regulations as 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 offshore), and on the south by 41°26’48” N. lat. (approximately 6 nautical miles south of the Klamath River mouth).

(c) No salmon may be taken during the months of August and September in ocean waters at the Eel River mouth bounded on the north by 40°40’24” N. lat. (approximately 2 nautical miles north of the Eel River mouth), on the west by 124°21’24” W. long. (approximately 2 nautical miles offshore), and on the south by 40°36’24” N. lat. (approximately 2 nautical miles south of the Eel River mouth).

Sport Fishing Special Alert for California OCEAN Salmon Fisheries

The California coastal coho (silver) salmon has been designated as an endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). It is unlawful to fish for, capture, keep, or possess under any circumstances a California coastal coho salmon. Violation of the ESA may result in civil or criminal penalties.

Large numbers of coho salmon have been caught in California’s ocean waters. Although it is likely that most of these salmon originated from hatcheries in the Columbia River basin, some of the fish are California coastal coho salmon which are protected under the ESA. Thus, the retention of any coho salmon is prohibited in all California ocean fisheries. Please take the time to correctly identify each salmon caught before removing it from the water.

To Avoid Contact With Coho Salmon:

  • Fish near shore for Chinook– coho are usually more offshore.
  • Use larger lures that select for large Chinook and reduce the coho catch.