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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 (KMZ)

May 25 - September 2

  • 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)

April 13-30; May 18 - October 31

  • Minimum size limit: 20 inches total length

Point Arena to Pigeon Point (San Francisco)

April 13-30; May 18 - October 31

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

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

April 6 - August 28

  • Minimum size limit: 24 inches total length

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 §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).

*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)

June 1-30 or 2,500 Chinook quota
July 1-30 or 2,500 Chinook quota
August 2-31 or 2,000 Chinook quota

  • five days per week, open Friday through Tuesday
  • minimum size limit: 27 inches total length
  • landing and possession limit of 20 Chinook per day
  • all salmon caught must be landed within the area and within 24 hours of any closure of the fishery
  • Klamath Control Zone (KCZ) closed (12 mile square centered on Klamath River mouth)
  • additional closure around mouth of Smith River (see §27.75 T14 CCR)

Horse Mountain to Point Arena (Fort Bragg)

June 4-30*; July 11-31*; August 1-28*

  • minimum size limit: 27 inches total length
  • all salmon caught in the area must be landed and offloaded by 11:59 pm August 30th

Point Arena to Pigeon Point (San Francisco)

May 16-31; June 4-30*; July 11-31*; August 1-28*; September 1-30

  • minimum size limit: 27 inches total length
  • all salmon caught in the area prior to September must be landed and offloaded by 11:59 pm August 30th

Point Reyes to Point San Pedro

October 1-4, 7-11, 14-15

  • five days per week, open Monday through Friday
  • minimum size limit: 27 inches total length
  • all salmon caught in the area must be landed between Pt. Arena and Pigeon Pt.

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

May 1-31; June 4-30*; July 11-31*

  • minimum size limit: 27 inches total length
  • all salmon caught in the area must be landed and offloaded by 11:59 pm August 5th

*When the KMZ fishery is open, all fish caught in the area must be landed south of Horse Mtn. until the KMZ fishery has closed for 24 hours

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 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.

*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).


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
    5355 Skylane Blvd., Suite B, Santa Rosa CA 95403-1045

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



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