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Sonoma County coast ready for the return of deep sea groundfish season after 20 years

For the first time in more than twenty years, a unique recreational fishing season called the "offshore-only" season is opening on May 15, 2023, off the coast of California between Cape Mendocino and Pigeon Point. These are the so-called Mendocino and San Francisco Groundfish Management areas. This is a big deal for local fishing enthusiasts, whether they're hobbyists enjoying the sport, individuals fishing for their own food, or even gourmet cooks looking for the freshest ingredients.

The "offshore-only" season allows people to fish for a group of fish known as groundfish, but only in the deeper waters far from shore. These fish include species like rockfish and lingcod.

When we talk about the San Francisco and Mendocino areas, we're talking about specific regions defined by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The San Francisco Groundfish Management Area runs from Point Arena to Pigeon Point. The Mendocino Groundfish Management Area stretches from Cape Mendocino to Point Arena. These areas are important because they each have their own rules and fishing seasons.

While the opening of the "offshore-only" season is an exciting opportunity, it's also important to remember that there are specific rules to follow. For instance, during this season, you can't keep certain types of fish that live closer to the shore, like nearshore rockfish, cabezon, and greenlings. Plus, some types of fish, like the bronzespotted rockfish, cowcod, and yelloweye rockfish, can't be caught at all, no matter the season.

As for who these fishermen are, it's a mix. Some are hobbyists who fish for the enjoyment of it. They love the challenge and the thrill of catching their own fish. Others fish for sustenance, meaning they catch fish to eat themselves or to share with their families. And yes, there are also gourmet cooks who enjoy fishing for their ingredients. They know there's nothing like the taste of a fish that's fresh from the sea.

Remember, if you're interested in participating in this unique fishing season, you can find more information about the rules and regulations on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's website.

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