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Current California Ocean Recreational Fishing Regulations

34°27 N. Latitude (Point Conception, Santa Barbara County) to the U.S. - Mexico Border

Includes a portion of Santa Barbara County, and all of Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties

This summary of current regulations was updated on November 19, 2018.

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


Open Fishing Seasons

  Rockfish

The recreational fishery for rockfish is open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers.The fishery is open to boat-based anglers from March 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018. These species may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 360 feet (60 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. The fishery is open to boat-based anglers from March 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018. Cabezon may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 360 feet (60 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 March 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018. Greenlings may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 360 feet (60 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. Althouga federally managed groundfish species, rock greenlings are often encountered by fishermen targeting federally managed groundfish. Thus, the rock greenling fishery s 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. The fishery is open to boat-based anglers from March 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018. Lingcod may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 360 feet (60 fathoms) 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 360 feet (60 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.

  California Sheephead

The recreational fishery for California sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher) is open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. The fishery is open to boat-based anglers from March 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018. California sheephead may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 360 feet (60 fathoms) deep. The daily bag and possession limit is 5 fish, with a minimum size limit of 12 inches total length.

The California sheephead fishery is managed under California’s Nearshore Fishery Management Plan. Although not a federally managed groundfish species, California sheephead is often encountered by fishermen targeting federally managed groundfish. Thus, California sheephead 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.

  Ocean Whitefish

The recreational fishery for link opens in new windowocean whitefish (Caulolatilus princeps) is open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. The fishery is open to boat-based anglers from March 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018. Ocean whitefish may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 360 feet (60 fathoms) deep. The daily bag and possession limit is 10 fish, with no minimum size limit.

The ocean whitefish fishery is managed by the state of California. Although not a federally managed groundfish species, ocean whitefish are often encountered by fishermen targeting federally managed groundfish. Thus, the ocean whitefish 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.

  Leopard Shark

The recreational fishery for leopard shark (Triakis semifasciata) is open year-round to shore-based anglers and divers. The fishery inside San Diego Bay, Mission Bay, Newport Bay and Alamitos Bay is open year-round to boat-based anglers.Outside of the above-mentioned embayments, the fishery is open to boat-based anglers from March 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018. Leopard sharks may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 360 feet (60 fathoms) deep (except in the Cowcod Conservation Areas - see below). 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 March 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018. These species may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 360 feet (60 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 recommends that consumers not eat the viscera (internal organs (guts), also known as "crab butter") of crabs caught north of the Mendocino-Humboldt county border.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 March 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018. These species may only be taken or possessed in waters less than 360 feet (60 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.

  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.

  Kelp Bass, Barred Sand Bass, Spotted Sand Bass

The fisheries for kelp bass, barred sand bass, and spotted sand bass (Paralabrax species) remains open year-round. The daily bag and possession limit is five fish in any combination of species. The minimum size limit is 14 inches total length or 10 inches alternate length.

  California Halibut

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

  White Seabass

The recreational fishery for white seabass (Atractoscion nobilis) remains open year-round. The daily bag and possession limit is three fish except that only one fish may be taken in waters south of Point Conception between March 15 and June 15. The minimum size limit is 28 inches total length or 20 inches alternate length.

  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.

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

  California Grunion

The recreational fishery for California grunion (Leuresthes tenuis) is open from June 1, 2018 through March 31, 2019. Grunion may only be taken by hand, and no holes may be dug in the beach to entrap them. Information about grunion, including a grunion run schedule, can be found on The Amazing Grunion web page.

  Tunas

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

  Yellowtail

The fishery for yellowtail (Seriola lalandi) remains open year-round. The daily bag and possession limit is ten fish. The minimum size limit is 24 inches link opens in new tab or windowfork length, except that up to five fish less than 24 inches fork length may be taken or possessed.

  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.

  Spiny Lobster

The recreational fishery for link opens in new windowCalifornia spiny lobster (PDF) (Panulirus interruptus) is open from 6:00 a.m. on September 29, 2018 through March 20, 2019. The daily bag limit is seven lobster. The minimum size limit is three and one-fourth inches measured along the midline of the upper body from the rear edge of the eye socket (between the horns) to the rear edge of the carapace (body shell).

Recent regulation changes pertaining to hoop net buoys and other equipment, season start time, and measurement methods are now in effect:

  • The recreational lobster fishing season now begins at 6:00 a.m. on the first day of the season
  • Hoop nets used south of Point Arguello (Santa Barbara County) must now have a surface buoy marked with the operator's GO ID number (hoop nets deployed by persons from shore/pier excepted)
  • Divers may now possess spearfishing equipment while diving for crustaceans (including lobsters), however such equipment may not be used to take lobster
  • Hoop netters may now bring lobster aboard a vessel where they can be measured safely

Other regulations remain in effect, including the following:

  • A Spiny Lobster Report Card is required for all persons taking spiny lobster, including persons under the age of 16. Please link opens in new windowreview how to correctly fill out a spiny lobster report card.
  • No more than five hoop nets may be possessed by one person when taking spiny lobster. No more than 10 hoop nets may be possessed per vessel when taking spiny lobster.
  • Hoop netters are required to raise the hoop net to the surface and inspect the contents of the hoop net at least every two hours.

The October 2018 spiny lobster consumption advisory for state waters around Anacapa and eastern Santa Cruz islands link opens in new windowhas been lifted. For more information concerning consumption advisories or fishery closures related to link opens in new windowdomoic acid, 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 spiny lobster season.
  • Call the CDPH Shellfish Biotoxin Information line at: (510) 412-4643 or toll-free at (800) 553-4133 for updated spiny lobster 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 spiny lobster season.
  • Check the Marine Region News Room for news releases with information about the recreational spiny lobster season.
  • Call or drop by your local Marine Region CDFW office for the latest information before heading out on a fishing trip.

See sections 29.80, 29.90, and 29.91 (click on link and scroll down the page to the Crustacean section) in the California Saltwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet for complete regulations pertaining to California spiny lobster. For more information about spiny lobster, please visit the Invertebrate Management Project web pages.

  Mussels

The recreational season for link opens in new windowCalifornia sea mussel (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 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

Ocean Salmon

The recreational fishery for link opens in new windowocean salmon (PDF) is closed as of July 3, 2018. The season will remain closed for the rest of the year. Ocean salmon seasons for 2019 will be adopted at the Pacific Fishery Management Council meetings in March and April, 2019 . For more ocean salmon fishery information, please visit the Ocean Salmon Seasons web page.

  Giant Sea Bass

The recreational fishery for giant sea bass (Stereolepis gigas) is closed year-round.

  Red Abalone

The recreational fishery for link opens in new tab or windowred abalone (PDF) (Haliotis rufescens) is closed year-round south of the mouth of San Francisco Bay. No species of abalone may be taken at any time in Southern California. For more information, visit the Invertebrate Management Project pages.


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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