Seasonal Fish—What’s Available?

Seasonal Fish—What's Available?Here in California, we are spoiled by the abundance that grows, literally, in our backyards. The concept of seasonality has some pretty blurred lines when you can get whatever you want year-round. What you may not know is the same is true for fish.

Avid fishermen are very aware that certain fish can only be harvested at certain times of the year. Yet, meat counters across the west coast always seem to have what we are looking for whenever we need it or have a craving. Though there are some fish that are available year-round, here is a general guide to the seasons of some of your favorite seafood sold in the SF Bay Area.

Albacore Tuna
Available June through October. Look for line or pole caught tuna to promote sustainability. Also, the line/pole caught tunas tend to be younger fish which means they haven’t had the mercury exposure of older resulting in lower mercury levels in the fish itself.

Farmed clams are available year-round. Wild clams are available October through June. If you are planning to harvest your own clams, make sure to check with state regulations regarding the harvest of the several varieties available on the West Coast.

Dungeness Crab
Available from November through February in the southern West Coast and June through August in the Pacific Northwest area. This fishery spans the coast from just south of San Francisco up into Canada. The opening of Dungeness crab season usually coincides with Thanksgiving in the San Francisco Bay Area. Recent occurrences of high toxin levels in the crab due to water temps caused by global warming as well as pricing disputes with the fisherman have sometimes delayed or even prevented the opening of crab season in the Bay Area.

Halibut is available basically year-round but the high season is March through November.

Ling Cod
Available April through October.

California Spiny lobster is available September through December.

Rainbow Trout
Farmed Rainbow trout is available year-round but is best straight out of the river.

Sometimes sold as Rock Cod or Pacific Snapper, is available year-round.

Also known as Black Cod or Butterfish, is available year-round but the high season lasts from March through November.

Chinook salmon is available May through August but can experience short closures within that timeframe. Other high-quality wild-caught salmon that have been flash-frozen are available year-round and can be just as tasty if not more so than freshly farmed.

Petrale sole is a Bay Area staple. It is available year-round but the high season is Spring to Fall

Most of the squid caught and sold in the Bay Area comes from the waters off Monterey and is available April through October.

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