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Live Bait Fishery

The live bait fishery in California targets coastal pelagic species (CPS) such as northern anchovy, Pacific sardine, market squid, Pacific mackerel and jack mackerel. California's live bait fishery began in 1910 to provide the rapidly expanding sport fishing industry with live fish for bait or chum. Before Pacific sardine disappeared in the early 1950s they were as much as 15-20 percent of the live bait catch, but from 1957 until the reappearance of Pacific sardine in the 1980s, northern anchovy made up virtually all of the live bait catch. Since the early to mid-1990s, proportions of Pacific sardine and northern anchovy have shifted in prevalence of live bait catch. Currently, live bait catch is monitored by CDFW through voluntary live bait fishing logs.

Live Bait Fishing Log Program

The CDFW CPS/HMS Project monitors live bait catch in California through a voluntary live bait fishing log program. Log data provide important information about the live bait fishery, which is used to aid in the management of CPS fisheries. Information from the vessel profile is used to better track participation and capacity of the live bait fishery.

Since sales of CPS in live bait markets are not recorded on landing receipts, the voluntary live bait log and vessel profile are our primary means of gathering information regarding this small but important and valuable fishery.

If you have questions regarding the CDFW voluntary CPS live bait fishing log program, please direct them to Kirk Lynn at: or (858) 546-7167.

Management and Regulations

Selected Articles and Publications

Coastal Pelagic Species Live Bait Public Meeting - May 28, 2015

The CDFW held a public meeting May 28, 2015 to discuss live bait operations and catch. The goals of meeting were to improve understanding of live bait fishing operations, catch reporting, and the context of live bait in terms of CPS management. The meeting resulted in an informational exchange leading to a better understanding of the live bait fishery and management, and to improvements in catch accounting. Specifically, CDFW and live bait industry representatives agreed on revisions to the current log forms to better account for catch, and to continued cooperation to effectively monitor and track catch in the future.

Marine Region (Region 7)
Regional Manager: Dr. Craig Shuman
Main Office: 20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Suite 100, Monterey, CA  93940  |  (831) 649-2870
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Live bait. CDFW file photo