The complexity of the sport fishing regulations is due to CDFW's goal of providing the most fishing opportunities to sport fishermen, while meeting state and federal mandates to manage, protect, and restore marine fisheries.
This requirement has been repealed. Effective March 1, 2010 anglers no longer have to display their sport fishing license on their outer clothing above the waist, but their sport fishing license must still be in their possession while fishing. When diving from a boat or shore, divers may have their license on the boat or within 500 yards on the shore, respectively (Ref Section 7145).
No; but it must be a public fishing pier.
FG§ 7153. Pier Fishing in Ocean
(a) A sport fishing license is not required to take fish for any purpose
other than profit by means of angling from a public pier in the ocean waters
of the state.
(b) For purposes of this section, "ocean waters" include, but are not limited
to, the open waters adjacent to the ocean and any island; the waters of any
open or enclosed bay contiguous to the ocean; the San Francisco and San Pablo
Bays, with any tidal bay belonging thereto; and any slough or estuary, if
found between the Golden Gate Bridge and the Benicia-Martinez Bridge.
As defined in Section 1.91 of the annual Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet, the RCG complex means all species of rockfish (genus Sebastes), cabezon (Scorpaenichthys marmoratus), and kelp and rock greenlings (genus Hexagrammos). The sport fishing daily bag and possession limit for the RGC Complex is 10 fish in combination of species, with sublimits on some species.
The daily bag and possession limit for California scorpionfish (Scorpaena guttata), aka sculpin, is 5 fish per angler. The minimum size limit is 10 inches, with a minimum fillet length of 5 inches.
View a summary of the current California scorpionfish regulations.
Ocean whitefish are prohibited during a rockfish closure to prevent the incidental take (bycatch) of depleted species of rockfish (namely bocaccio). Data shows that these species are often taken by sport fishermen in conjunction with one another.
This is due to the similarity of appearance between whitefish and bass (barred sand bass and kelp bass) fillets, in order to prevent dishonest anglers from taking short bass (minimum size limit is 12 inches), filleting them and then claiming they are whitefish fillets. If you catch and choose to keep an ocean whitefish that may not meet the minimum fillet length (6 inches) once it is filleted, the best advice to avoid running into this problem is to keep the fish whole, or gutted, until you get home and prepare the fish for eating.
The general bag and possession limit of Section 27.60 states that no more than 20 finfish in combination of all species with not more than 10 of any one species, may be taken or possessed by any one person. Within this general bag limit of 20 fish with not more than 10 of any one species, special sublimits apply to many species. There are also many species that have no bag or possession limit. Refer to the ocean sport fishing regulations for complete information.
Some species of fish like cabezon, greenling (sea trout), and sheephead have a yearly
statewide harvest quota. When this quota is reached the Fish and Game Commission suspends the take until the end of the year when a new yearly quota starts again. Sport and commercial fishing have different quotas for the same species of fish. If the commercial quota for a species is reached before the sport quota, the commercial season for that species may be closed while the sport season remains open until that quota is reached.
Any number of hooks and fishing lines may be used in all ocean waters and bays with the following exceptions:
- You can only use one line with no more than three hooks while fishing in San Francisco and San Pablo bays between the Golden Gate Bridge and the west Carquinez Bridge.
- When you are fishing from a public pier you can use only two rods and lines, two hand lines, or two crab nets, crab traps or other appliances used to take crabs.
- When you are fishing for rockfish or lingcod or you have rockfish or lingcod aboard your boat, you can only use one line with no more than two hooks.
- If you are fishing north of Point Conception for salmon or have salmon on board your boat, you can only use one rod and line with no more than two single barbless hooks (check current salmon regulations for other hook restrictions).
Ref. Section 28.65.
- You can not use weights over four pounds unless the weight is attached to a downrigger and the fishing line releases automatically from the downrigger when a fish is hooked.
- You can only use up to two single point single shank barbless hooks when fishing for salmon or you have salmon on your boat, even if you are fishing for something other than salmon.
- If you are fishing for salmon with bait or have salmon on board and you are not trolling (drifting or mooching), you can use no more than two single point single shank circle hooks. If you are using two hooks for mooching with bait, the hooks have to be tied in place so they do not slide (hard tied), and the distance between the hooks must not exceed five inches measured from the top of the eye of the top hook to the inner base of the curve of the lower hook.
- If you are salmon fishing or have salmon on board your boat when fishing for something else, you can only use one fishing rod and line.
Ref. Section 27.80
Because you have salmon on board your boat, you are restricted to using only gear that is legal to take salmon. You can only use one fishing rod and line. You can only use up to two hooks and those hooks have to be single and barbless. If you put bait on your hooks the hooks have to be single barbless circle hooks. For example: You can fish with a single Scampi jig and a shrimp fly with the barbs pinched down or you can fish with two barbless shrimp flies and a weight. If you put on bait you can use two barbless circle hooks with or without attached lures.
Ref. Section 27.80
Because you have rockfish or lingcod on board your boat and rockfish and lingcod cannot be taken or possessed in water deeper than the groundfish management area (GMA) depth limit, you are restricted to fishing for salmon in water shallower than the GMA depth limit for your area. The same thing applies if you are fishing for salmon and don't have rockfish or lingcod on the boat, but then you catch a rockfish or lingcod. If you are fishing in water deeper than the GMA depth limit for your area, you cannot keep the rockfish or lingcod because they cannot be taken in water deeper than the GMA depth limit. If you are fishing for salmon in water shallower than the GMA depth limit, but you catch a rockfish or lingcod and keep it, you now are restricted to fishing for salmon in water shallower than the GMA depth limit because rockfish and lingcod cannot be possessed while fishing in water deeper than 20 fathoms. View summaries of groundfish management area regulations.
Ref. Section 27.82
No more than one daily bag limit of each kind of fish, amphibian, reptile, mollusk or crustacean may be taken or possessed by any one person unless otherwise authorized (see Section 27.15 and Section 27.80(e)); regardless of whether they are fresh, frozen, canned, smoked, or otherwise preserved. This includes in your home.
Ref. Section 1.17.
Yes, you can give fish away. The person you give fish to does not need to have a fishing license. A fishing license is only needed to take fish. You can still only take one daily limit, but you can give that limit away so that you can go fishing the next day and not be in possession of more than one daily bag and possession limit. So, if you have two people in your boat, car, camp or living in your home, you can possess two limits of fish in your boat, car, camp or home.
- reported to 90 pounds,
- 50% are mature by 28 inches, total length,
- the oldest recorded white seabass was 16 years.
- reported to 72 pounds,
- 50% of males mature by 9 inches, females by 18 inches,
- the oldest recorded California halibut was a 30-year-old female.
Visit the CDFW Fishing and Diving Records web page. You may also contact any of the CDFW Marine
offices, or call the Los Alamitos office at (562) 342-7184.
Contact any CDFW Marine Region
office. They will either help you with the identification or find someone
close to you who can identify it. You can also send your question, with a digital picture of your fish, to AskMarine@wildlife.ca.gov.
Note: Your questions sent to AskMarine@wildlife.ca.gov, and CDFW's response, may be posted on the Internet or published in periodicals to help others with similar questions. If you do not wish your question to be used in this manner, please indicate this in your email.
Recent indicators show corbina populations are improving,
based on juvenile fish sampling. As for the disappearance of corbina in the
winter, they may be seeking warmer water by moving further south or into
embayments, or perhaps offshore. Unfortunately, movement patterns of corbina
are not well understood.
Many rockfish species will not survive if caught in deep
water and returned to the ocean. Because of changes in internal pressure
after the fish is hooked and retrieved from great depths, there is physical
trauma to the gas bladder and other internal organs. Minimum size limits would not be an effective management tool for most species of rockfish because of this reason. Bocaccio have a minimum size limit of 10 inches to protect juvenile fish that are sometimes caught in large numbers in shallow water by pier and shore-based anglers in central and northern California.
Most of the mako sharks caught off Southern California are
small (under 4 feet) because the Southern California Bight is part of a juvenile
shark nursery area. The adults live in different habitat, either far offshore
or in very deep water. Many shark populations are known to segregate by size,
an adaptation thought to keep young sharks from being preyed upon by larger
relatives. A size limit restricted to adult mako sharks would effectively
shut down the recreational fishery because of the scarcity of large fish
in Southern California waters. So far, there is no supporting biological
information to show conservation benefits from a minimum size limit on mako
sharks. Currently, the allowable take is two (2) mako sharks per person per
day, within the twenty fish per day limit.
Many anglers have said that bocaccio are abundant in Southern California, and it's true that anglers are currently seeing many bocaccio. This is because 1999 was one of the more successful spawning events for bocaccio. Hopefully those fish will survive to spawn themselves.
On the other hand, while the 1999 event was good, NMFS scientists tell us that it was not as good as they thought when they established harvest levels in 2000 for the next three years. Scientists use complex, state-of-the art computer modeling programs to determine the overall health of the fishery. Information including catches (both commercial and sport), the age of fish caught, abundance measures of larval bocaccio and research (fishery independent) fish are all used in these models. The Secretary of Commerce has accepted these analysis methods as appropriate and they are the tools used to guide management decisions. All indications are that more stringent management measures are needed.
CDFW's License and Revenue branch maintains a FAQ page with frequently asked questions about sport fishing licenses.