Catch and Release Salmon Fishing No Longer Allowed in the Central Valley Basin of California

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Catch and Release Salmon Fishing No Longer Allowed in the Central Valley Basin of CaliforniaThe Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has begun enforcing new recreational salmon fishing regulations for the Central Valley Basin. Catch and release fishing that intentionally targets salmon is now illegal in any river or stream closed to salmon fishing. DFG staff will be notifying anglers and posting information about the new regulations in the area and violators are subject to a fine of up to $1,000.

“These changes were necessary to increase protection for Sacramento River fall run Chinook populations, which have drastically decreased in the last few years,” said DFG Fisheries Branch Chief Neil Manji. “The Sacramento River fall run Chinook are projected to just meet minimum escapement levels for 2009. We need this new measure to ensure that the stock will continue to recover.”

The new rule was adopted by the Fish and Game Commission on April 21 and went into effect on May 26. The previous regulation, which specified a zero-salmon bag limit in Central Valley rivers and tributaries, was replaced with language that states these areas are “closed to salmon fishing” and “no take or possession of salmon” is allowable. This eliminates catch and release fishing that targets salmon throughout most of the year.

The regulations make an exception for a limited late-fall run recreational fishery. For the second year, fishing on the Sacramento River will be allowed from November 16 to December 31, but only from Knights Landing to the Red Bluff Diversion Dam. The daily bag and possession limit will be one salmon during this period.

The remaining rivers and tributaries of the Central Valley Basin, which include the Feather, American and San Joaquin rivers along with all of their tributaries, will remain closed to salmon fishing year-round.

Fish and Game Code Section 1.80 defines “take” as “hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill fish, amphibians, reptiles, mollusks, crustaceans or invertebrates or attempting to do so.” For more information regarding inland sport fishing regulations and the 2009 California salmon fishery, please visit DFG’s Web site at