HMS recreational fisheries description and recent catch and effort

 Washington recreational HMS fishery statistics are available from PSMFC through their Recreational Fisheries Information Network (RecFIN) website. RecFIN provides estimates based on field sampling of HMS catch and telephone survey for effort. While RecFIN also contains estimates for Oregon, ODFW’s Ocean Recreational Boat Survey (ORBS) data are used here given nuances in recreational fishery sector differentiation. RecFIN does not contain estimates of HMS catch and effort for California, and CDFW similarly provides data from its Marine Logbook System (MLS) and California Recreational Fishing Survey (CRFS) estimates.


Recreational anglers fishing from private vessels and from commercial passenger fishing vessels (CPFVs) target albacore in all three West Coast states. Albacore is targeted almost exclusively with rod-and-reel gear, and success is highly dependent upon the distance from port to the fish, weather and ocean conditions, and fuel prices.

In recent years albacore typically begin to show up within range of the recreational fishery in California in late spring, migrating northward and appearing off Oregon and Washington in mid to late June, and are available through late September or early October in most years.

Fishery performance

The following tables show recreational albacore catch, fishing effort, and catch per unit of effort (tables updated 5/26/2020):

  • Table R1. Recreational albacore catch (number of kept fish) for charter and private boats by year and port, 2017-2019.
  • Table R2. Recreational albacore effort (angler days*) for charter and private boats by year and port, 2017-2019.
  • Table R3. Recreational albacore catch per unit of effort (number of kept fish/angler day*) for charter and private boats by year and port, 2017-2019.

Note: California and Oregon record catch and effort by angler day. Washington records catch and effort by angler trip, although the majority of trips are equal to one day. With very infrequent exceptions, the duration of Oregon recreational fishing trips by private anglers and by charter anglers is 24 hours or less, and encompasses one day of fishing activity.

Other HMS (Southern California)

Recreational anglers in California take the entire suite of management unit species (MUS) included within the HMS FMP using rod-and-reel gear almost exclusively; in addition, a nominal amount of  fish, primarily tunas and dorado, are taken by free divers using spear guns. In Oregon and Washington anglers only occasionally take HMS species other than albacore, such as blue sharks.

CPFVs also make trips from Southern California ports (primarily San Diego) into Mexican waters. Yellowfin, bluefin, and albacore tunas as well as dorado are the most commonly caught HMS species.

California data are provided by the California Recreational Fisheries Survey (CRFS) program while the state’s logbook program provides a record of fishing activity for most CPFVs. The fact that a much higher overall percentage of highly migratory MUS catches are represented in logbook data than in CRFS samples is why logbooks are preferred over CRFS in determining the catch of these species by anglers fishing from CPFVs. Logbooks also have the advantage of supplying catch information on MUS taken in Mexico. However, CRFS data are the best available for making catch estimates of anglers fishing from private boats. Statistics for the CPFV fishery are also available from the federal charter logbook program. In Oregon statistics for recreational fisheries, including private, CPFV, and tournament fisheries, are available from the ODFW Ocean Recreational Boat Survey Program. Beginning in 2005, a mandatory charter boat tuna logbook program was implemented in Washington to provide additional information on location and effort in the charter albacore fishery.

Fishery Performance

The following tables present recreational catch in Southern California waters (tables updated 5/26/2020):

  • Tables R-4 and R-5. Estimated number of highly migratory MUS kept and thrown back alive by recreational anglers fishing from California private vessels in U.S. EEZ waters (Table R-4) and Mexico waters (Table R-5), 2017-2019.
  • Tables R-6 and R-7.  Reported number of highly migratory MUS kept and thrown back by recreational anglers fishing from California Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels (CPFVs) in U.S. EEZ waters (Table R-6) and Mexico waters (Table R-7), 2017-2019.

Data from these tables is summarized in the figures below.

This figure shows estimated catch (retained plus discarded) by fleet, zone (Mexico or US waters), and species group for the years 2017 to 2019. The Tuna species group accounted for the most catch at 90%. The CPFV fleet in Mexico waters accounted for 62% of catch followed by the CPFV fleet in US waters at 18%.

Total recreational catch (retained plus discarded) of highly migratory species in the U.S. and Mexico EEZs by private and CPFV fleets.
Total recreational catch (retained plus discarded) by sector and zone.

This figure shows catch by species (retained plus discarded) aggregated by fleet and zone, 2017-2019.

Total recreational catch ( retained plus discarded) of highly migratory species in Southern California, 201-2019.
Total catch (retained plus discarded) by species.