As Expected, State Cancels Inland Salmon Fishing After Second Straight Ocean Closure (Updating)

Fall-run chinook salmon in the American River just below the Nimbus Hatchery in Gold River, California on November 18, 2023. (CDFW Photo/Travis VanZant)

When the Pacific Fishery Management Council made the decision for the second straight year to cancel California’s ocean salmon season, it was only a matter of time before the California Fish and Game Commission would also scratch inland salmon fishing

Here’s more from the Los Angeles Times:

The unanimous vote by the California Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday follows a similar decision last month to prohibit salmon fishing along the California coast this year.

The decision will shut down the recreational salmon fishing season along the Sacramento, American, Feather, Mokulumne, Klamath and Trinity rivers, among others.

State officials have said salmon are struggling because of factors such as reduced river flows during the severe drought from 2020-2022, the effects of climate change, harmful algae blooms, and shifts in the species’ ocean diet.

Here’s some reaction from the Golden State Salmon Association:

California Fish and Game Commission Closes Salmon Fishing on Central Valley and Klamath Basin Rivers for a Second Year

Low salmon abundance numbers caused by state water policy failures deliver more bad news to fishing families and communities

AMERICAN CANYON, Calif. – The California Fish and Game Commission unanimously adopted emergency regulations for Chinook salmon fishing closures in the Central Valley and Klamath River Basin due to continued dramatic population declines. 

Staff Summary for the May 15, 2024 Fish and Game Commission meeting cited numerous causes for the plummeting salmon numbers including ongoing issues associated with “drought and climate disruption” along with “severe wildfires and associated impacts to spawning and rearing habitat, harmful algal blooms, and ocean forage shifts.”

Just over a month ago on April 10, 2024, the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to finalize the closure of all commercial and recreational ocean salmon fishing off California’s coast. Today’s closure marks the second year in a row that inland fishing for Chinook salmon in California will be eliminated – shuttering the salmon fishery on the American, Feather, Mokelumne, Sacramento, Klamath and Trinity rivers.

“We can’t begin to solve the salmon crisis plaguing all of California’s marine and inland waters, the entire commercial and recreational fishing industry, and many coastal and river towns and communities if the Governor simply fails to admit the main cause, which is a horrendous water policy that green lights unsustainable water diversions out of our salmon rivers,” said Scott Artis, executive director of Golden State Salmon Association.  

This latest closure follows the complete 2023 salmon fishing season shutdown that devastated the commercial and recreational salmon industry, and marks the fourth year in California’s history that salmon fishing has been closed. Salmon fishing was previously closed in 2008 and 2009. Fishery managers forecasted low adult Sacramento Valley fall-run Chinook salmon in the ocean off the West Coast in February. Like 2023, this year’s decision was made due to low ocean abundance estimates of adult and two-year-old jack salmon that survived the hostile conditions they have encountered in Central Valley rivers in recent years.

The 2023 and 2024 salmon shutdowns did not come out of the blue. In the fall of 2020 and the spring of 2021, baby salmon that are returning this year faced multiple threats. First, the state failed to require adequate temperature protection for salmon eggs. As a result, lethal hot water, caused by excessive and unsustainable agricultural water deliveries earlier in the year to largely support export nut crops, killed incubating salmon eggs. Second, Governor Newsom has shut down the State Water Board effort to update Bay-Delta standards, including river flow standards to protect out-migrating salmon. As a result, baby salmon did not survive their journey out of the Central Valley to the ocean. And finally, in 2021, Governor Newsom waived the already poor salmon standards that were in place in order to allow additional pumping. As a result, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife concluded that 99.7% of winter-run Chinook salmon eggs and juveniles were killed before they reached the Delta.

“Families, businesses, salmon and our rivers and estuaries are hurting,” continued Artis. “Instead of developing solutions that can work for everyone and the environment, the Governor is pushing forward with the Delta Tunnel and Sites Reservoir projects. These projects are the ultimate fisherman’s nightmare. Because why bother with pesky things like sustainable ecosystems when you can just reduce river flows to a trickle and heat the water enough to kill salmon eggs? Here’s to the Governor, turning California’s rivers into ghost towns for salmon and fishermen and women alike.”

A healthy California salmon industry is valued at $1.4 billion in economic activity and 23,000 jobs annually to the state in a normal season and contributes millions of dollars more to the economy and supports thousands of jobs in Oregon. Salmon workers benefiting from Central Valley salmon stretch from Santa Barbara to northern Oregon. This includes commercial fishermen and women, recreational fishermen and women (fresh and salt water), fish processors, marinas, coastal and river communities, equipment manufacturers, the hotel and food industry, Tribes, and many others.

California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin River system supports four distinct Chinook salmon runs: fall, late-fall, winter and spring. The winter- and spring-runs have seen periods of alarmingly low numbers and are designated as endangered and threatened, respectively, under the Endangered Species Act. The fall-run has been the only commercially and recreationally fishable stock, prior to recent and current season closures. The late-fall run has been eliminated from most of its native spawning habitat. All four Chinook salmon runs are dependent upon cold water flows and releases from reservoirs for migration and spawning.

Golden State Salmon Association ( is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fishermen and women, businesses, restaurants, native tribes, environmentalists, elected officials, families and communities that rely on salmon. GSSA’s mission is to restore California salmon for their economic, recreational, commercial, environmental, cultural and health values.  

Update: The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife sent out a short release reminding anglers fishing in Southern Oregon that no king can be landed south of the Oregon-California border due to the ocean salmon closure. Here’s the release:

May 16, 2024 RECREATIONAL OCEAN SALMON ACTION NOTICE: The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in consultation with the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), the State of Oregon, the State of California, and fishery representatives met today via conference call and have taken the following in-season management action related to the recreational ocean salmon season from the Humbug Mt. to the OR/CA Border: 

ACTIONS TAKEN:All salmon caught in the recreational ocean salmon fishery in the area from Humbug Mt. to the OR/CA Border must be landed within the State of Oregon for any open salmon seasons from May 16 through October 31, 2024. 

RATIONALE: Recently concerns were raised by the State of California regarding the recreational salmon fishery just across the border in Oregon. Specifically, as California has no salmon openings this year, the concerns included enforcement of the existing regulations and California’s inability to adequately monitor the fishery landings in Crescent City, CA. It is still legal for Californians to trailer their boat to an Oregon port, purchase Oregon angling licenses and catch record cards, fish within waters off Oregon, and travel back to California with their catch by land.

Visit for more information on Oregon’s ocean salmon seasons and fisheries.