HALF MOON BAY -- Fishery managers have circled May 1 as the opening date for what promises to be the second consecutive good season for Bay Area commercial salmon fishing.
The Chinook salmon season from Point Arena in Mendocino County to the Mexican border will run until Sept. 30, with a few breaks in between, according to the Pacific Fishery Management Council, which released the dates late Wednesday.
The council estimates there are 834,200 Sacramento River fall-run Chinook salmon in the ocean, which is slightly higher than the 2012 preseason estimate. Last year, fishermen unloaded roughly 215,000 salmon in California, making it the best season since 2005.
The 2013 season will be 125 days, four days shorter than last year's. The Pacific Fishery Management Council, which oversees salmon fisheries in California, Oregon and Washington, permits longer seasons when salmon populations are robust. A recent collapse of salmon stocks caused the 2008 and 2009 seasons to be canceled.
Fishermen and scientists attribute the resurgence of the Chinook, or king, salmon to favorable ocean conditions in the Pacific over the past few years as well as the Klamath and Sacramento rivers, the state's top spawning grounds.
"Mother Nature gets the most credit," said Donald McIsaac, executive director of the council. "The food chain's just really strong off California now."
The recreational salmon season for the Bay Area began April 6. Half Moon Bay Sportfishing sent out three charter boats Saturday and Sunday. Co-owner Sherry Ingles said there were a lot of hefty salmon swimming about 10 miles offshore, making for her best opening weekend in five or six years.
"We were bringing in a fish per rod, and we were hooking a lot more than that," Ingles said. "That's a darn good weekend."
High winds have kept the charter company's boats off the water this week. Ingles said those conditions may not ease until Monday.
The dates for the 2013 season must still be formally approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Contact Aaron Kinney at 650-348-4357. Follow him at Twitter.com/kinneytimes.
a lengthy season
The commercial salmon season from Mendocino County to Mexico will run from:
May 1 to June 8
June 21 through 30
July 15 through August 29
September 1 to 30
Source: Pacific Fishery Management Council