For most of the non-angling world, the first day of spring is March 20. For the avid, however, the first day of spring is the salmon opener. California Fish and Game was charitable to simplify things for both sides of the hook this year by announcing on March 20, that the salmon season opening is Saturday, April 6 for the central coast.
From the looks of the salmon summary, it’s to only last three weeks, from the 6th to the 30th (http://dfg.ca.gov/marine/oceansalmon.asp
). In the past, it has opened back up again in July, but nothing shows up on the DFG website about that as yet. So you might only have three weeks, which is still a head start on the commercial season by a month.
It’s best to keep up with changing regulations and dates by visiting the DFG website. If fact, you are expected to know the rules and updates.
The usual things to keep in mind are that you need a fishing license, unless you fish from the Wharf, but you probably won’t catch a salmon from the Wharf, at least yet. You might want a boat. Expect the boats and swashbuckling anglers to arrive dark and early on Saturday morning. If you need to drive by the harbor to get to work, don’t. You’ll be late. If you have or kept a friendship with somebody with a boat all year, the fish length minimum is 24 inches, king salmon only, no coho. How to know the difference? The simplest is to look for the telltale black spots on the tail and back for king (or chinook) salmon. King salmon also have decidedly black gums, while coho do not.
You can use two barbless hooks with shanks if you are trolling, meaning under power. If your hooks are barbed mash down the barb with pliers. If you stop and “mooch” fish, not under power, you have to use barbless CIRCLE hooks. If you don’t know the difference, don’t worry, your bait and tackle shop will be happy to sell you both of them. An individual can keep two fish a day using one rod. One individual with two rods and four fish will not compute.
Ocean conditions seem to have improved over the last couple years, with colder water and lots of krill. Guesstimates as to the health of the population around the two major river systems in California from river returns to the Sacramento and Klamath-Trinity rivers points to perhaps a million and half salmon swimming offshore this year.
Looks like the weather will be blissfully benign out on the water. Usual case history is that salmon schools are attracted to Soquel Hole two miles off guess where, Soquel. After the charge of anglers over a week or so, they start to move around, and often stay on the Monterey side. Last year people were catching them off the beach at Marina.
So give it a try, no time like the present. No better prize than the mighty salmon fought and coaxed to the side and into the net!