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The Bite is On! Fishing for Salmon off California Coast is Best in Years

If your fishing gear has been in the garage collecting dust, now’s the time to pull it out because the salmon are here, and the bite is on! Anglers and sport-fishing charters off the California coast are returning to the docks with full boats and happy customers as the strong ocean salmon bite continues, making 2012 one of the best salmon seasons in years. 

Mild weather and good ocean conditions are contributing to what fishermen and Department of Fish and Game (DFG) officials hope will continue to be a robust year for ocean salmon fishing. Hopes are also high for big returns to California rivers this fall. 

“Thanks to the favorable ocean conditions and plentiful food, all the reports we are receiving from the coast are very positive,” said DFG Northern Regional Manager Neil Manji. “The charter boats are coming back early enough to make two trips a day because everyone has been catching their limits.” 

The daily bag and possession limit is two salmon per person and the minimum size limit is 20 inches.

After several years of closed and reduced salmon fishing seasons, DFG and federal officials earlier this year estimated there would be thousands of adult salmon off the coast available for harvest. When ready, the fish will move inland for a run to their traditional spawning grounds. 

Early forecasts predicted 819,000 adult Sacramento River fall-run Chinook and 1.7 million Klamath River fall-run Chinook adults off the coast. Since the opener in April, recreational harvest estimates for Chinook salmon off the California coast are the highest recorded since 2004. North of Horse Mountain, the totals are the highest since 2006 and five times those from 2011 during the same time period. 

San Francisco’s area harvest is the highest since 2006 and landings in the Monterey area are the best seen since 2004. In the Fort Bragg area, landings have been more moderate, although comparable to seasons that occurred there in 2003 and 2004. 

“In my 26 years of working with salmon on the North Coast, I have never seen such a remarkable beginning to a salmon season. If the start of the season is any indication of what’s in store for the second half, anglers should not miss this opportunity of a lifetime. Get out there and take advantage of this epic bite!” added Manji.■

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