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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

Closed to salmon fishing.

Horse Mountain to
Point Arena (Fort Bragg)

April 1 – May 31; August 15 – November 12

  • Minimum size limit: 20 inches total length

Point Arena to Pigeon Point (San Francisco)

April 1 – 30; May 15 – October 31

  • Minimum size limit: 24 inches total length through April 30, 20 inches total length thereafter

Pigeon Point to Point Sur (Monterey North)

April 1 – July 15

  • Minimum size limit: 24 inches total length

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

April 1 – May 31

  • Minimum size limit: 24 inches total length

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.


(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).

Have You Seen Me?

Chinese mitten crabs are nonnative, invasive species that pose a serious threat to California’s economy and aquatic ecosystems. They clog fish screens and impede water delivery, burrow into levees weakening infrastructure and increasing erosion, prey on, compete with, and transfer diseases to native species, and damage rice crops through excessive foraging. Chinese mitten crabs invaded the San Francisco Bay in 1992 and by 1996 had spread to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. They experienced a population boom in 1997, and by 1998 could be found over 100 miles north and east of the Bay in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River watersheds. Chinese mitten crabs have mysteriously disappeared from the Delta and are now only rarely seen in San Francisco Bay.

Have you seen any Chinese mitten crabs?

Report sightings of Chinese mitten crabs to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Invasive Species Program by calling 866-440-9530 or sending an email to Additionally, if you catch a Chinese mitten crab, do not release it back into the water! Any Chinese mitten crabs that are caught should be killed immediately and preserved in alcohol or frozen for later identification by CDFW staff.