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California Saltwater Fishing Secrets

Oct 6, 2007
In 2003, California saltwater fishing came to a virtual halt due to a crisis in the number of bottomfish, or groundfish, that were available. The population level decreased to the point that these slow-growing and slow-breeding species could not support themselves while being harvested. Therefore, during certain seasons, fishing was practically shut down, with coast-wide closures and limits on catch-and-release activity.

The species that were restricted in California during this crisis specifically were breeds of rockfish, including cowcod, yelloweye rockfish, canary rockfish, bocaccio, and other large, deepwater rockfish. The population was so reduced that, had the harvest continued, they most certainly would have become an endangered species. With the return of California fishing allowances, new restrictions were placed on the quantities, types, and depths at which fishing was allowed in order to preserve the population of rockfish. Since this crisis, the fishing industry in general along the west coast has had to make sacrifices and accept losses in revenue due to limitations on fishing.

By far, southern California sea fishing is more popular than other areas of the state, and this was the area that was largely affected by the restrictions and bans. Fortunately, there was an assessment of the population of rockfish that withdrew many of the shallow area restrictions on fishing before the industry was greatly affected. This assessment showed a higher population of yelloweye than previously thought and allowed both industrial and recreational fishermen to continue angling in the shallows, with some restrictions regarding daily limits on rockfish crop. Most of the restrictions, however, remained on deepwater fishing, since this is where many of the rockfish specimens breed and grow. In fact, catch-and-release methods for recreational anglers were disallowed because fish caught at such depths could not survive the release.

Therefore, while some fishing continued as usual, the brunt of the fallout was taken by areas south of Cape Mendocino, where a 4,000 square mile Cowcod Conservation Area was created in the 1990's. Here, the major concern was for bocaccio rockfish, the population of which was so severely reduced that experts predicted that, even with absolutely no harvest, it would take over a century to recover the population.

While new regulations affect the rockfish population and angling as a sport for these breeds, fishing in California continues to thrive for such species as tuna, mackerel, halibut, corbina, and bass, most of which can be caught either near the shoreline from a pier or on the surface of shallow waters. Most of the regulations on fishing affect only deepwater fishing and species. These species can even be angled for in conservation areas, since they are found in the shallows and on the surface, where rockfish are almost impossible to locate.
About the Author
Dan Eggertsen is a fishing researcher and enthusiast who is commited to providing the best saltwater fishing information possible. Get more information on California saltwater fishing here: http://www.asksaltwaterfishing.com
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