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Current California Ocean Recreational Fishing Regulations

38°57.5 N. Latitude (Point Arena in Mendocino County) to 37°11 N. Latitude (Pigeon Point in San Mateo County)

Includes a portion of Mendocino County, the portions of Sonoma, Marin and San Francisco counties bordering the Pacific Ocean, and most of San Mateo County

Regulations for some species may differ inside San Francisco Bay; view regulations applicable to San Francisco Bay.

This summary of current regulations was updated on September 21, 2018.

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

NOTE: link opens in new windowIn-Season Groundfish Depth Restriction Change Effective August 25, 2018. In this area, groundfish may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 180 ft. (30 fm) deep through December 31, 2018.


Closed Fishing Seasons

  Red Abalone
  Pacific Halibut
  Dungeness Crab

Additional Information


Open Fishing Seasons

  Rockfish

The recreational fishery for rockfish (Sebastes sp.) is open to divers and shore-based anglers year-round. This fishery is open to boat-based anglers from April 15, 2018 through December 31, 2018. These species may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 180 feet (30 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  (2 per person), also included in the 10 fish RCG Complex aggregate limit. Yelloweye rockfish, link opens in new windowbronzespotted rockfish, and cowcod may not be retained (bag limit: zero).

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 (Scorpaenichthys marmoratus) is open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. This fishery is open to boat-based anglers April 15, 2018 through December 31, 2018. Cabezon may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 180 feet (30 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.

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 fisheries for rock greenling and kelp greenling (Hexagrammos spp.) is open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. These fisheries are open to boat-based anglers from April 15, 2018 through December 31, 2018. Greenlings may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 180 feet (30 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.

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 (Ophiodon elongatus) is open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. This fishery is open to boat-based anglers from April 15, 2018 through December 31, 2018. Lingcod may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 180 ft (30 fm) deep. The daily bag and possession limit is 2 fish, with a minimum size limit of 22 inches total length.

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.

  California Scorpionfish (a.k.a. sculpin)

This fishery is currently closed for boat-based angling.

The recreational fishery for California scorpionfish (Scorpaena guttata) is open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. The fishery is closed to boat-based anglers as of September 1, 2018. California scorpionfish may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 180 feet (30 fathoms) deep. The daily bag and possession limit is 5 fish with a minimum size limit of 10 inches total length.

The California scorpionfish 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 (Triakis semifasciata) is open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. Outside of San Francisco Bay, Bodega Harbor, Tomales Bay and Drakes Estero Bay the fishery is open to boat-based anglers from April 15, 2018 through December 31, 2018. Within the aforementioned bays, the fishery is open to boat-based anglers year-round. Leopard sharks may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 180 feet (30 fathoms) deep. The daily bag and possession limit is 3 fish with a minimum size limit of 36 inches total length.

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 link opens in new windowsoupfin 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 April 15, 2018 through December 31, 2018. These species may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 180 feet (30 fathoms) deep. The 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.

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 April 15, 2018 through December 31, 2018. These species may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 180 feet (30 fathoms) deep. Refer to the California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations for size limits, bag limits and other regulations pertaining to these species.

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.

Ocean Salmon

The recreational fishery for link opens in new windowocean salmon (PDF) is open from June 17, 2018 through October 31, 2018. The daily bag limit is 2 salmon of any species except coho, and the minimum size limit is 20 inches total length. No more than two daily bag limits may be in possession when on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit.

For important information on gear restrictions and other ocean salmon sport fishing regulations, see the link opens in new window2018 Ocean Salmon Sport Regulations flyer and the current link opens in new windowSport Fishing Regulations Supplement. You may also call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429 for ocean salmon sport fishing information.

For more information about the ocean salmon fishery, please visit the California Ocean Salmon Seasons Web page.

  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 link opens in new windowsixgill shark (YouTube)(Hexanchus griseus) and link opens in new tab or windowsevengill 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 (Citharichthys sordidus), link opens in new windowbutter sole (Isopsetta isolepis), link opens in new windowcurlfin sole (Pleuronichthys decurrens), link opens in new windowflathead sole (Hippoglossoides elassodon), link opens in new windowrex sole (PDF)(Glyptocephalus zachirus), link opens in new windowrock sole (Lepidopsetta bilineata), and link opens in new windowsand 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.

View additional groundfish information.

  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.

  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.

Read the link opens in new window2015 California Halibut Fact Sheet (PDF).

  Surfperch

The recreational fishery for surfperch (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.

View surfperch regulations for inside San Francisco Bay.

Identification Guide: link opens in new windowCommon Surfperches of California (PDF)

  White Seabass

The recreational fishery for white seabass (Atractoscion nobilis) remains open year-round. The daily bag and possession limit is three fish. The minimum size limit is 28 inches total length or 20 inches alternate length.

  Sturgeon

The recreational fishery for white sturgeon (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 (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, filleting procedures on vessels, and other regulations pertaining to these species.

  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 year-round, statewide. The daily bag limit is 35 crab, and the minimum size limit is 4 inches. Review link opens in new windowcrab trap regulations that went into effect in 2016, link opens in new windowcrab measurement methods (PDF), and the current Saltwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet for more rock crab fishing information.

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

  Mussels

NOTE: The California Department of Public Health has issued a link opens in new windowquarantine on the collection of mussels intended for human consumption. The quarantine is usually in effect from May 1 through October 31 each year.

The recreational season for link opens in new windowCalifornia sea mussel (Mytilus californianus) and bay mussel (Mytilus trossulus) remains open year-round. Currently, mussels should only be collected for non-consumptive uses (for example, fish bait). 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 link opens in new windowdomoic 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.

  Kelp

The daily bag limit on all marine aquatic plants for which the take is authorized is 10 pounds wet weight in the aggregate, except that 25 pounds of herring eggs on kelp may be collected. No eel grass, surf grass, or sea palm may be cut or disturbed at any time.

  Other Species

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


Closed Fishing Seasons

  Dungeness Crab

The recreational fishery for Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) is closed. The fishery is scheduled to reopen on November 3, 2018. Note that traps may not be set during the week before the season opener (see current recreational fishing regulation booklet for complete  Dungeness crab regulations). To check for in-season closures due to domoic acid, call the CDFW Domoic Acid Fishery Closure Information Line at (831) 649-2883.

  Pacific Halibut

The recreational fishery for Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) is closed as of September 22, 2018. For further information about Pacific halibut, please visit the CDFW Pacific halibut web page.

  Red Abalone

The 2018 recreational fishery for red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) north of the mouth of the Golden Gate is link opens in new windowclosed. The fishery is closed year-round south of the Golden Gate. For more information, visit the Invertebrate Management Project web page.


Groundfish - Additional Information

  • 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.

Marine Protected Areas - Additional Information

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
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