How to Find King Salmon Near Me?

There is a 3-day weekend coming up and you can’t find a spot to catch king salmon near you or find out where to buy some great king salmon?

Chinook (more often called ‘King’) Salmon is one of the top recreational fish on everyone’s mind in California. As you probably already know, these are absolutely delicious and nutritious fish and we only have a short summer season to catch them here on the west coast.

How can you find king salmon near you in 2023? Let’s find out more!

Where and When to Catch King Salmon in California?

Up until now, anglers could catch king salmon in the San Francisco Bay area three months before Memorial Day on May 30, 2022, and May 29, 2023. This year it’s different because it looks like the highly anticipated king salmon season in California isn’t going to begin until the middle of the year. We’re looking at a late summer start, which is not the ideal time to catch king salmon.

Why? There are grave concerns that the number of fish in the country’s northern region is on the decline so limits must be placed. It’s still OK because the entire coast will have a king salmon fishing season, but it has changed in 2022 and will likely be very similar in 2023 as it will take time for stocks to replenish.

King Salmon Fishing Schedule in 2022 (and similar in 2023)

The 2022 recreational ocean salmon season dates for the California coast are as follows.

  • Klamath zone – In Northern California the area between the Oregon and California state line and down to the 40°10’00” N. latitude line (near the King Range National Conservation Area and Cape Mendocino), the king season will be open from May 1-31 and again from August 1 to September 5. Total: 67 fishing days.
  • The Fort Bragg zone covers 40°10’00” N. latitude down to the Salt Point State Park area (38°57’30” N. latitude), and will be open to king salmon anglers from May 1 to July 4 and again from July 22 to September 5. Total: 111 fishing days.
  • King salmon fishing in the San Francisco zone reaches from the Salt Point State Park down to the Big Basin Redwoods State Park area near Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park (37°11’00” N. latitude) and will be open from April 2 to May 31 and again from June 23 to October 31. Total: 161 fishing days.
  • In the Monterey zone from Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park down to the US and Mexico border. The king season will stay open for 6 straight months from April 2 to October 2. Total: 183 fishing days.

We expect the 2023 king salmon fishing season to be very similar in terms of management areas and dates.

Where to Find King Salmon?

Wild-caught king salmon sells at grocery stores in the San Francisco Bay Area for around $28 – $32 per pound. The price has gone up a bit over recent years and you can find it a bit cheaper at the boat docks if you want to buy it right off the boats.

Many vendors managing restaurants at Pier 45 in San Francisco have said that people with money are not that concerned with the high price of king salmon during the summer months. They are still getting a decent number of sales and of course, the restaurants are always buying, but some who wholesale the fish have had to freeze a good portion of what they bought directly from commercial anglers.

At some of the grocery stores especially inland, the price is too high for them to keep it in stock. They just aren’t selling enough of it and it’s become a loss leader.

Where can you always find wild-caught king salmon during the season? Stores that usually have it during the summer months are Bi-Rite, Hook Fish Co. in Mill Valley, and Monterey Fish in Berkeley.

Fishing for big chinook salmon has been allowed along the California coast from top to bottom but only during certain months of the year. These strict regulations are an attempt by fishing conservationists to restore the vital fishery in the Klamath River Basin in northern California.

Some of the fish from the Klamath River make their way into the Bay area and then go back north to spawn. If too many fish are taken during a season, there are fewer fish to spawn there.

There are only brief periods of time the king fishing season can be opened on the central coast. Rough weather has hindered the fishing this year and usually has some effect on the number of fishing days available to commercial and recreational boats out on the water. This is actually a good thing for chinook populations.

In the Bay Area, anglers at Pillar Point Harbor recently posted pictures of their catch on their FishLine app, and some planned to sell their fish at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf as is customary.

For another option, if you just want to order fish online to have it delivered, you can check out Facebook pages by searching for a place near you.

Tips For Purchasing King Salmon

King salmon filet

Tips for Purchasing King Salmon

Should you buy fresh-caught or frozen salmon? The answer may not be what you expect!

If the salmon was caught within two days of you purchasing it, then yes, go ahead and eat it fresh because it will taste better than frozen salmon even if it was caught today and frozen immediately.

If the salmon was caught more than two days ago, it should already be frozen and it can still be tasty – who hasn’t eaten frozen salmon and loved it? I probably don’t even know the difference between fresh and frozen because I’ve not had freshly caught salmon before. Wait, no, I’ve had fresh salmon in restaurants before. Pretty sure it was caught the same day.

The salmon in the store has often been thawed out and though it can still be good to eat, nothing beats fresh salmon that was never frozen, especially for sushi.

The point is that salmon cannot stay great tasting and smelling for all that long until you freeze it. Once frozen, you’re looking at a month or two when it will be great to eat. From months 3-6, there’s some deterioration of the firmness. Fatty salmon will get mushy. Not a great texture but because of all the fat, it will still taste so good!

When you buy fresh salmon and freeze it immediately in vacuum-sealed bags you rest easy knowing you can eat that fish in a few months and it will still put smiles on your loved ones’ faces around the dinner table.

If you’re a salmon lover and you cannot get enough, you should buy salmon in bulk to freeze it during every king salmon fishing season. Ora King salmon is raised in fish farms in New Zealand and is available year-round but you’ll notice a definite difference in taste from the wild-caught fresh salmon from California or Alaska.

If you want the absolute freshest fish and you want to be certain there is nothing fresher, go to the fishing docks and try to buy king salmon fish whole from the boats as they come in.

Ideally, you should have a relationship with some boat captains who will sell you their fish and let you know when they’re coming in off the open water. What better way to get fresh fish than this? And, since it would be pre-sold, commercial anglers are eager to do it. It’s a win-win for all involved.

FAQs

Is the high king salmon price worth it?

King salmon’s taste is world-renowned and most people would say that the cost is worth it at nearly any price. In 2022 the average price in California in the Bay area for fresh-caught king salmon is $28-32 per pound. That price has been rising due to inflation and the new shorter fishing season. Fresh-caught king salmon is considered one of the best and healthy fish money can buy, so yes, many people feel even at $32 per pound, the cost is worth it.

When is the best time to purchase king salmon?

Between the months of May and October is the best time to purchase king salmon from California because it is fresh-caught and as healthy and as fresh as it gets. If you wait until other times of the year to buy your king salmon you will be getting fish from Alaska which is still delicious, but not quite as fresh (and more expensive).

Chinook salmon vs. king salmon. Which fish is considered to be the tastiest to eat?

People are sometimes confused by the name ‘king salmon’ and they think ‘chinook salmon’ is different. These are the same fish species with the scientific classification, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha. This cold-water fish is the biggest and best-tasting salmon of all the other species.

Wrap Up

Every year California has a king salmon season that is announced by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. There have been some changes to the king salmon fishing season and yet you should still be able to find king salmon near you this year and next.

In addition to catching wild-caught salmon, many people are wondering, “Where can I find king salmon near me in the stores?” Fresh-caught king salmon in California is cheaper than fish from Alaska and can be found from May through October in grocery stores, farmers’ markets, fine dining establishments, fish markets, and even buying from anglers down on the fishing docks as they come back from fishing outings.

Photo of author

Brian Hopkins

Brian is an outdoor writer and the youngest member of our team, but he is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to fishing and different techniques for catching different species. He shares valuable information that the younger generation can relate to. When he is not fishing, you can find him hanging with his friends and gaming on his computer.

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