North Salt: Deepwater rockfish season open for business

Ten-year-old Calvin Purcell from Charlottesville, VA landed a nice lingcod as well as a canary rockfish while fishing out of Eureka with Captain Marc Schmidt, right, aboard the Scrimshaw. The deep water rockfish season opened April 1 statewide. Photo courtesy of Marc Schmidt/Coastline Charters.


The statewide rockfish season opened April 1, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any type of announcement because the month of April is only open beyond the 50-fathom line, this falls under federal jurisdiction. Hence, the only notification that went to the public came from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). And if you’re not signed up to receive email notifications or you don’t routinely check their website, you’re likely in the dark like most anglers.

How it went down: Early morning April 1, NOAA, along with National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) sent out an email announcing an in-season adjustment to manage commercial and recreational groundfish fisheries. The intent of this action is to allow fishing vessels to access more abundant groundfish stocks while protecting rebuilding stocks like Quillback rockfish. This action went into effect April 1, 2024.

Along these same federal lines, NOAA and NMFS took emergency action, modifying a continuous transit requirement for CA recreational vessels. This modification will temporarily allow recreational vessels to anchor overnight and/or stop to fish for non-groundfish species inside the seasonal Recreational Rockfish Conservation Area off the coast of California, also known as the 50-fathom (91-meter) offshore fishery. This emergency measure allows boats to travel through state waters with rockfish on board and will prevent the possible cancellation of thousands of recreational fishing trips during the 2024 recreational fishing season off California.


What all this federal jargon means is it’s time to go fishing. In Northern Management Area, which runs from the California-Oregon border to Cape Mendocino (40°10′ N. latitude), the season is open for an ‘offshore only fishery’ through April 30. Fishing for groundfish will only be allowed seaward of the 50-fathom boundary line, and only shelf rockfishslope rockfish and lingcod may be retained. Take and possession of nearshore rockfish, cabezon and greenling are prohibited during the offshore fishery.

The state-run nearshore fishery is expected to open May 1 and run through Sept. 30.