Menu
Contact Us Search

Current California Ocean Recreational Fishing Regulations

40°10 N. Latitude (near Cape Mendocino in Humboldt County) to 38°57.5 N. Latitude (Point Arena in Mendocino County)

Includes a portion of Humboldt County and most of Mendocino County

This summary of current regulations was updated on November 13, 2017.

See the California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet for complete regulation information, including regulations for species not covered here.


Open Fishing Seasons

= Partially closed fishing season or warning

  Rockfish
  Cabezon
  Kelp and Rock Greenlings
  Lingcod
  Leopard Shark
  Soupfin Shark and Spiny Dogfish
  Other Federally Managed Groundfish
  Sharks (State-managed)
  Pacific Sanddab and Other Flatfish
  Petrale Sole and Starry Flounder
  California Halibut
  Surfperch
  Sturgeon
  Tunas
  Dungeness Crab
  Rock Crab
  Mussels
  Other species


Closed Fishing Seasons

  California Scorpionfish (a.k.a. sculpin)
  Pacific Halibut
  Ocean Salmon
  Red Abalone


Additional Information


Open Fishing Seasons

  Rockfish

The recreational fishery for rockfish (Sebastes sp.) is open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. The fishery is open to boat-based anglers from May 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017. These species may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 120 feet (20 fathoms) deep. The daily bag and possession limit is 10 fish in combination of all species within the RCG Complex (includes all species of Rockfish, Cabezon and Greenlings) per person, with a sub-limit on black rockfish (3 per person) and canary rockfish (1 per person), also included in the 10 fish RCG Complex aggregate limit. Yelloweye rockfish, bronzespotted rockfish, and cowcod (PDF) may not be retained (bag limit: zero). Read the press release announcing changes to depth limits effective October 16, 2017.

Rockfish are part of a group of fish known as groundfish, which includes over 90 species that live on or near the bottom of the ocean (with a few exceptions). View a summary of groundfish regulations.

View additional groundfish information.

  Cabezon

The recreational fishery for cabezon (PDF) (Scorpaenichthys marmoratus) is open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. The fishery is open to boat-based anglers from May 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017.  Cabezon may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 120 feet (20 fathoms) deep. The daily bag and possession limit is 3 fish within the 10 fish RCG Complex aggregate limit (includes all species of Rockfish, Cabezon and Greenlings), with a minimum size limit of 15 inches total length. Read the press release announcing changes to depth limits effective October 16, 2017.

The cabezon fishery is managed under both state and federal groundfish management plans. The state manages this fishery in concert with the federally managed groundfish group, which includes over 90 species that live on or near the bottom of the ocean (with a few exceptions). View a summary of groundfish regulations.

View additional groundfish information.

  Kelp and Rock Greenlings

The recreational fishery for kelp and rock greenlings (PDF) (Hexagrammos spp.) is open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. These fisheries are open to boat-based anglers from May 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017. Greenlings may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 120 feet (20 fathoms) deep. The daily bag and possession limit is 10 fish within the 10 fish RCG Complex aggregate limit (includes all species of Rockfish, Cabezon and Greenlings), with a minimum size limit of 12 inches total length. Read the press release announcing changes to depth limits effective October 16, 2017.

The kelp greenling fishery is managed under both state and federal groundfish management plans, while the rock greenling fishery is managed under California’s Nearshore Fishery Management Plan. Although not a federally managed groundfish species, rock greenlings are often encountered by fishermen targeting federally managed groundfish. Thus, the rock greenling fishery is managed in concert with the federally managed groundfish group, which includes over 90 species that live on or near the bottom of the ocean (with a few exceptions). View a summary of groundfish regulations.

View additional groundfish information.

  Lingcod

The recreational fishery for lingcod (PDF) (Ophiodon elongatus) is open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. The fishery is open to boat-based anglers from May 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017. Lingcod may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 120 feet (20 fathoms) deep. The daily bag and possession limit is 2 fish, with a minimum size limit of 22 inches total length. Read the press release announcing changes to depth limits effective October 16, 2017.

The lingcod is part of a group of fish known as groundfish, which includes over 90 species that live on or near the bottom of the ocean (with a few exceptions). View a summary of groundfish regulations.

View additional groundfish information.

  Leopard Shark

The recreational fishery for leopard shark (PDF) (Triakis semifasciata) is open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. The fishery is open to boat-based anglers from May 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017. Leopard sharks may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 120 feet (20 fathoms) deep. The daily bag and possession limit is 3 fish with a minimum size limit of 36 inches total length. Read the press release announcing changes to depth limits effective October 16, 2017.

The leopard shark is part of a group of fish known as groundfish, which includes over 90 species that live on or near the bottom of the ocean (with a few exceptions). View a summary of groundfish regulations.

View additional groundfish information.

  Soupfin Shark and Spiny Dogfish

The recreational fisheries for soupfin shark (PDF) (Galeorhinus zyopterus) and spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) are open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. These fisheries are open to boat-based anglers from May 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017. These species may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 120 feet (20 fathoms) deep. The daily bag and possession limit for soupfin shark is one fish with no minimum size limit. The daily bag and possession limit for spiny dogfish is 10 fish within the 20-fish general bag limit, and there is no minimum size limit. Read the press release announcing changes to depth limits effective October 16, 2017.

Soupfin shark and spiny dogfish are part of a group of fish known as groundfish, which includes over 90 species that live on or near the bottom of the ocean (with a few exceptions). View a summary of groundfish regulations.

View additional groundfish information.

  Other Federally Managed Groundfish

The recreational fisheries for all other federally managed groundfish species are open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. These fisheries are open to boat-based anglers from May 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017. These species may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 120 feet (20 fathoms). Refer to the California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations for size limits, bag limits and other regulations pertaining to these species. Read the press release announcing changes to depth limits effective October 16, 2017.

The groundfish group includes over 90 species that live on or near the bottom of the ocean (with a few exceptions). View a summary of groundfish regulations.

View additional groundfish information.

  Sharks (State-managed)

Open year-round, except that white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) may not be taken or possessed at any time. The bag limits for sixgill shark (Hexanchus griseus) and sevengill shark (PDF) (Notorynchus cepedianus) allow take of one fish per day with no size limit. The bag limits for shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus), thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus), and blue shark (Prionace glauca) allow take of two fish per day with no size limit.

  Pacific Sanddab and Other Flatfish

The recreational fishery is open year-round to all anglers and divers for the following species: Pacific sanddab (PDF) (Citharichthys sordidus), butter sole (Isopsetta isolepis), curlfin sole (Pleuronichthys decurrens), flathead sole (Hippoglossoides elassodon), rex sole (PDF) (Glyptocephalus zachirus), rock sole (Lepidopsetta bilineata), and sand sole (Psettichthys melanostictus). Refer to the California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations for size limits, bag limits and other regulations pertaining to these species.

Pacific sanddab and other flatfish are part of a group of fish known as groundfish, which includes over 90 species that live on or near the bottom of the ocean (with a few exceptions). View a summary of groundfish regulations.

  Petrale Sole and Starry Flounder

The recreational fisheries for petrale sole (Eopsetta jordani) and starry flounder (Platichthys stellatus) are open year-round to all anglers and divers. There are no depth restrictions or bag limits for petrale sole or starry flounder. Refer to the California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations for complete sport fishing regulations information.

Petrale sole and starry flounder are part of a group of fish known as groundfish, which includes over 90 species that live on or near the bottom of the ocean (with a few exceptions). View a summary of groundfish regulations.

View additional groundfish information.

  California Halibut

The recreational fishery for California halibut (Paralichthys californicus) remains open year-round. The daily bag and possession limit is three fish north of Point Sur, Monterey County. The minimum size limit is 22 inches total length.

  Surfperch

The recreational fishery for surfperch (PDF) (family Embiotocidae) is open year-round. The daily bag and possession limit is 20 fish in combination of all species (except shiner perch), with not more than 10 fish of any one species. Shiner perch (Cymatogaster aggregata) have a separate bag and possession limit of 20 fish. Redtail surfperch (Amphistichus rhodoterus) have a minimum size limit of 10½ inches total length.

Identification Guide: Common Surfperches of California (PDF)

  Sturgeon

The recreational fishery for white sturgeon (PDF) (Acipenser transmontanus) remains open year-round. The daily bag and possession limit is one fish that must be between 40 inches and 60 inches fork length. The annual limit is three (3) sturgeon per person. Short or oversized sturgeon must be released unharmed immediately; note that white sturgeon greater than 68 inches fork length may not be removed from the water prior to their immediate release. No snare may be used to assist in taking sturgeon. Only one single barbless hook may be used on a line to take sturgeon. The sturgeon must voluntarily take the bait or lure in its mouth. No sturgeon may be taken by trolling, snagging, or by the use of firearms. Sturgeon may not be gaffed, nor shall any person use any type of firearm to assist in landing or killing any sturgeon. Any person fishing for sturgeon shall have in their possession a non-transferable Sturgeon Fishing Report Card and complete it in accordance with California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 27.90.

Green sturgeon (PDF) (Acipenser medirostris) may not be removed from the water, taken, or possessed at any time. Green sturgeon must be released immediately without being removed from the water.

  Tunas

The recreational fishery for tunas is open year-round. Refer to the California Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet for bag limits, possession limits, and other regulations pertaining to these species.

Note: A new bag limit for bluefin tuna (2 fish) and changes to fillet-at-sea regulations for all tunas brought ashore as fillets south of Point Conception, Santa Barbara County, are now in effect. View the new regulations.

  Dungeness Crab

The recreational fishery for Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) is open from November 4, 2017 through July 30, 2018. The daily bag limit is 10 crab, and the minimum size limit is 5¾ inches. Recreational crabbing is not allowed from vessels licensed for commercial Dungeness crab fishing. Review current crabbing regulations, link opens in new windowcrab measurement methods (PDF),and the current Saltwater Sport Fishing regulations booklet for more Dungeness crab fishing information.

Note that the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued a consumption advisory for Dungeness crab that, in part, recommends not consuming the viscera ("butter" or guts) of crab caught between Laguna Point, Mendocino County and Humboldt Bay North Jetty, Humboldt County. For more information concerning Dungeness crab season dates, consumption advisories related to domoic acid, and related information, please access one of the following sources:

  • Call the CDFW Domoic Acid Fishery Closure Information Line at (831) 649-2883 for the latest status of the Dungeness crab season.
  • Call the CDPH Shellfish Biotoxin Information line at: (510) 412-4643 or toll-free at (800) 553-4133 for updated crab consumption advisories, or check CDFW's Finfish and Shellfish Health Advisories web page.
  • Sign up for the CDFW Marine Region News Service to receive the latest information about the recreational Dungeness crab season.
  • Check the Marine Region News Room for news releases with information about the recreational Dungeness crab season.
  • Call or drop by your local Marine Region CDFW office for the latest information before heading out on a crabbing trip.

See additional information about Dungeness crab and other species of crab.

  Rock Crab

The recreational fishery for all rock crab species, including rock crab (Cancer antennarius), yellow crab (Cancer anthonyi) and red crab (Cancer productus) is open statewide, year-round. The daily bag limit is 35 crab, and the minimum size limit is 4 inches. Review crabbing regulations that went into effect last year, link opens in new windowcrab measurement methods (PDF), and other crabbing regulations in the current Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet .

Although rock crab season is normally open year-round,  the season was closed north of Pigeon Point, San Mateo County in 2016 due to high levels of domoic acid in the crab. The season fully reopened on November 1, 2016, although the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) still advises that consumers not eat the viscera (internal organs, also known as "butter" or "guts") of crabs caught north of Bodega Head, San Mateo County.

For the latest information concerning rock crab season dates, consumption advisories, and related information, please access one of the following sources:

See additional information about rock crab and other species of crab.

  Mussels

The recreational season for California sea mussel (PDF) (Mytilus californianus) and bay mussel (Mytilus trossulus) remains open year-round. The daily bag and possession limit is 10 pounds (in the shell) of California sea mussels and bay mussels in combination.

Note that the California Department of Public Health monitors and annually quarantines mussels to prevent human cases of paralytic shellfish poisoning and domoic acid poisoning; however, warnings advising consumers not to eat recreationally taken shellfish may be issued at any time. The annual quarantine is usually in effect from May through October, and applies only to sport-harvested mussels intended for human consumption. For updated information on warnings, advisories, and quarantines concerning naturally-occurring shellfish toxins, call the California Department of Public Health's Shellfish Biotoxin Information Line at (510) 412-4643 or toll-free at (800) 553-4133. You can also review CDFW's shellfish health advisories web page.

  Other species

See the California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet for complete regulations, including regulations for species not covered here.



Closed Fishing Seasons

  Ocean Salmon

The recreational fishery for link opens in new tab or windowocean salmon (PDF) is closed for the rest of 2017. The 2018 season for ocean waters will be decided in April 2018 by the Pacific Fishery Management Council and the California Fish and Game Commission.
For more ocean salmon fishery information, please visit the Ocean Salmon Seasons web page.

  Pacific Halibut

The recreational fishery for Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) is closed as of September 11, 2017 and is expected to reopen on May 1, 2018. For further information about Pacific halibut, please visit the CDFW Pacific halibut web page

  California Scorpionfish (a.k.a. sculpin)

The recreational fishery for link opens in new windowCalifornia scorpionfish (PDF) (Scorpaena guttata) is closed as of September 1, 2017. The fishery is expected to reopen on May 1, 2018. For more information about California scorpionfish, visit the California Marine Sport Fish Identification web page.

  Red Abalone

The recreational fishery for red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) is closed as of November 1, 2017. For more information about red abalone, visit the Invertebrate Management Project web page.


Additional Information about Groundfish

  • Groundfish Angler and Diver Definitions
    • Boat-based anglers are fishermen angling from boats or vessels of any size or any other type of floating object, including kayaks and float tubes.
    • Shore-based anglers are fishermen that fish from beaches, banks, piers, jetties, breakwaters, docks and other manmade objects connected to the shore. No vessel or watercraft (motorized or non-motorized) may be used to assist in taking or possessing federally-managed groundfish species, greenlings of the genus Hexagrammos, ocean whitefish, or California sheephead while angling from shore.
    • Divers are scuba or free divers with or without spearfishing gear, entering the water either from the shore or from a boat or other floating object. Except for spearfishing gear, all other types of fishing gear are prohibited aboard a vessel or non-motorized watercraft while diving or spearfishing for the purpose of retaining federally managed groundfish species, greenlings of the genus Hexagrammos, ocean whitefish, and California sheephead during a seasonal closure for boat-based anglers.
  • The recreational fisheries for Pacific halibut and federally managed groundfish species, greenlings of the genus Hexagrammos, ocean whitefish, and California sheephead may close early if the annual harvest guideline for any one specie or species group is met or is expected to be met prior to the end of the year. Check this website regularly or call the Recreational Groundfish Fishing Regulations Hotline ((831) 649-2801) for the latest information.

  • Federally managed groundfish species, greenlings of the genus Hexagrammos, ocean whitefish, and California sheephead may be possessed aboard vessels that are transiting waters deeper than the groundfish management area depth limit only when all fishing gear is stowed.

  • Additional Information about Marine Protected Areas

    In addition to the fishing regulations presented here (and in California Code of Regulations and California Fish and Game Code), marine protected area (MPA) regulations may further restrict or prohibit sport fishing within MPAs. MPA regulations, maps, and coordinates are available on the CDFW website, in the current Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet, and at your local CDFW office.You can also pick up an MPA guide or brochure at a location near you. Information about California MPAs is also available on the CDFW MPA mobile website.



    Marine Region (Region 7)
    Regional Manager: Dr. Craig Shuman
    Main Office: 20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Suite 100, Monterey, CA  93940
    AskMarine@wildlife.ca.gov  |  (831) 649-2870
    Office Locations  |  Marine Blog  |  Subscribe