The two separate openings in the first week of May and the last 12 days of June are meant to protect a scarce group of king, or Chinook, salmon. But the openings increase the pressure on fishermen, who might not be able to pay off expensive permits and equipment with such restrained fishing opportunity.
“This year they almost shut us down,” said local fisherman Lorenzo Sanchez, 42. Recreational salmon season will run a bit longer, from April 7 until July 2, but is still shorter than a traditional season.
At local fish markets, scarce salmon might be available during the season opening, but consumers should expect high prices. During the May opening, said Phil DiGirolamo, owner of Phil’s Fish Market and Eatery in Moss Landing, “it was the highest-priced salmon I’ve ever seen.” Fillets sold in his market for $20-25 per pound, and may well be more expensive this June.
And yet, he said, because of the high quality of the fish, discerning customers keep the salmon in high demand. “We got a few fish at a time and they were sold as soon as we got them,” he said. He expects to sell all the salmon he can get his hands on.
Recreational fishing in the Central Valley and North Coast rivers will open later this summer.