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Summary of Recreational Groundfish Fishing Regulations for 2017

Some marine protected areas (MPAs) restrict or prohibit sport fishing within MPAs. Visit the MPA website for more information.

Attention: Inseason changes to recreational regulations will be effective Monday, October 16.  Please check this webpage or call the regulations hotline at (831) 649-2801 for more information before engaging in fishing for Groundfish. 


Northern Management Area

Ocean waters between 42°00' N. latitude (CA-OR Border) and 40°10' N. latitude (near Cape Mendocino)
Includes all of Del Norte County and most of Humboldt County

link opens in new tab or windowView a printer-friendly version of this table (PDF)

Note: Before engaging in ocean sportfishing for groundfish and associated species, please review one of the resources listed in Footnote 1 to receive the most up-to-date regulations. Some marine protected areas restrict or prohibit sport fishing. Check the MPA website for more information.

Species Time Period1,2,3 Depth Limit 1,2,3 Daily Bag Limit1 Min. Size Limit1,4,5

RCG Complex1
(including all species of Rockfishes, Cabezon and Greenlings, Sections 1.91 and 28.55, 28.28, and 28.29)

Boat-based Anglers2:
Open: May 1 - Oct 31, and Nov 1 - Dec 31
Closed: Jan 1 - Apr 30

Divers, Shore-based Anglers2:
Open year-round

May 1 - Oct 15: Take is prohibited seaward of the 30 fathom depth contour (180 feet), defined in Federal regulations (50 CFR Part 660, Subpart C)

Oct 16 - Dec 31: Take is prohibited seaward of 20 fathoms (120 feet) in depth

SEE EXCEPTION AT END OF TABLE

10 fish in combination per person EXCEPT:

Black rockfish: 3 fish per person


Cabezon: 3 fish per person
Canary rockfish: 1 per person

See individual species and groups below:

Cabezon: 15” total length


Kelp and/or rock greenlings: 12” total length

THESE ROCKFISHES MAY NOT BE TAKEN OR POSSESSED IN CALIFORNIA:

Bronzespotted Rockfish, Cowcod, and Yelloweye Rockfish  (Section 28.55)

FISHING IS CLOSED year-round, at all depths         NO RETENTION at any time (zero fish per person)

Lingcod
(Section 28.27)

Same as RCG Complex, above

2 fish per person

22” total length

Leopard Shark6
(Section 28.56)

All Anglers within Humboldt Bay: Open year-round

All Anglers outside of Humboldt Bay: Same as RCG Complex, above

Divers, Shore-based Anglers2:
Open year-round

All Anglers within Humboldt Bay: No depth limit

All Anglers outside of Humboldt Bay: Same as RCG Complex, above

Divers, Shore-based Anglers2: Same as RCG Complex, above

3 fish per person

36” total length

Pacific Sanddabs and “Other Flatfish”3
(Section 28.48)

Open year-round

No depth limit

Pacific sanddab: No limit


All “Other Flatfish”3: 10 fish of each species, limit 20 fish in combination per Section 27.60

No size limit

Petrale Sole and Starry Flounder
(Section 28.47)

Open year-round

 No depth limit No limit

No size limit

Other Federal Groundfish
(Section 28.49)

Same as RCG Complex, above

Soupfin shark: 1 fish per person
All Other Federal Groundfish: 10 fish of each species, limit 20 fish in combination per Section 27.60

No size limit

  1. Subject to in-season change. Call the Recreational Groundfish Fishing Regulations Hotline at (831) 649-2801, visit the CDFW website, send an e-mail to AskMarine@wildlife.ca.gov, or call your nearest CDFW office for the latest information.

    Some marine protected areas (MPAs) restrict or prohibit sport fishing within MPAs. Check the current ocean sport fishing regulations booklet or the CDFW website, send an e-mail to AskMPA@wildlife.ca.gov, or call your nearest CDFW office for more information.
  2. Divers and shore-based anglers are exempt from season restrictions affecting the RCG complex and other federally managed groundfish. However, when spear fishing during a boat-based closure, only spear fishing gear is allowed aboard any vessel or watercraft. Also, when angling from shore during a boat-based closure, no vessel or watercraft may be used to assist in taking or possessing species included in this table. The following definitions describe boat-based and shore-based anglers, and divers:
    • 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 angling from beaches, banks, piers, jetties, breakwaters, docks and other manmade structures connected to the shore.
    • Divers are spear fishermen entering the water either from the shore or from a boat or other floating object.
  3. During the closed season, Pacific sanddab, butter sole, curlfin sole, flathead sole, rex sole, rock sole, and sand sole (defined as "Other Flatfish" in subsection 1.91(a)(10)) may be taken.
  4. See regulations for information on gear restrictions (sections 28.65, 28.70, 28.90, 28.91, and 28.95) and fillet lengths (Section 27.65).
  5. Total length is the longest straight-line measurement from the tip of the head with the mouth closed to the end of the longest lobe of the tail. A link opens in new windowmeasurement method illustration (PDF) is available in the current Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.
  6. The sport fishery for leopard shark inside Humboldt Bay is exempt from season and depth restrictions that affect other federally managed groundfish (Section 28.56).

EXCEPTION: During the open season, groundfish may be possessed in closed areas and in water depths closed to fishing only aboard vessels in transit with no fishing gear in the water. See Section 27.20(b).

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Mendocino Management Area

Ocean waters between 40°10' N. latitude (near Cape Mendocino) and 38°57.5' N. latitude (Point Arena)
Includes a portion of Humboldt County and most of Mendocino County

link opens in new windowView a printer-friendly version of this table (PDF)

Note: Before engaging in ocean sportfishing for groundfish and associated species, please review one of the resources listed in Footnote 1 to receive the most up-to-date regulations. Some marine protected areas restrict or prohibit sport fishing. Check the MPA website for more information.

Species Time Period1,2,3 Depth Limit1,2,3 Daily Bag Limit1 Min. Size Limit1,4,5

RCG Complex1
(including all species of Rockfishes, Cabezon and Greenlings, Sections 1.91 and 28.55, 28.28, and 28.29)

Boat-based Anglers2:
Open: May 1 - Oct 31, and Nov 1 - Dec 31
Closed: Jan 1 - Apr 30

Divers, Shore-based Anglers2:
Open year-round

May 1 - Oct 31: Take is prohibited seaward of 20 fathoms (120 ft) in depth

Nov 1 - Dec 31: Take is prohibited seaward of 20 fathoms (120 feet) in depth

SEE EXCEPTION AT END OF TABLE

10 fish in combination per person EXCEPT:

Black rockfish: 3 fish per person


Cabezon: 3 fish per person
Canary rockfish: 1 per person

See individual species and groups below:

Cabezon: 15” total length


Kelp and/or rock greenlings: 12” total length
THESE ROCKFISHES MAY NOT BE TAKEN OR POSSESSED IN CALIFORNIA:

Bronzespotted Rockfish, Cowcod, and Yelloweye Rockfish  (Section 28.55)

FISHING IS CLOSED year-round, at all depths          NO RETENTION at any time (zero fish per person)
Lingcod
(Section 28.27)
Same as RCG Complex, above 2 fish per person 22” total length
Leopard Shark
(Section 28.56)

Boat-based Anglers2:
same as RCG Complex, above

Divers, Shore-based Anglers2:
Open year-round

All Anglers: Same as RCG Complex, above

3 fish per person

36” total length

California Scorpionfish
(Section 28.54)

Boat-based Anglers2:
Open: May 1 - Aug 31
Closed: Jan 1 - Apr 30, and Sep 1 - Dec 31

Divers, Shore-based Anglers2:
Open year-round

Same as RCG Complex, above

5 fish per person

10” total length

Pacific Sanddab and “Other Flatfish”3
(Section 28.48)

Open year-round

No depth limit3

Pacific sanddab: No limit


All “Other Flatfish”3: 10 fish of each species, limit 20 fish total in combination, per Section 27.60

No size limit

Petrale Sole and Starry Flounder

(Section 28.47)

Open year-round No depth limit No limit

No size limit

Other Federal Groundfish
(Section 28.49)

Same as RCG Complex, above

Soupfin shark: 1 fish per person

All Other Federal Groundfish: 10 fish of each species, limit 20 fish total in combination, per Section 27.60

No size limit

  1. Subject to in-season change. Call the Recreational Groundfish Fishing Regulations Hotline at (831) 649-2801, visit the CDFW website, send an e-mail to AskMarine@wildlife.ca.gov, or call your nearest CDFW office for the latest information.

    Some marine protected areas (MPAs) restrict or prohibit sport fishing within MPAs. Check the current ocean sport fishing regulations booklet or the CDFW website, send an e-mail to AskMPA@wildlife.ca.gov, or call your nearest CDFW office for more information.
  2. Divers and shore-based anglers are exempt from season restrictions affecting the RCG complex and other federally managed groundfish. However, when spear fishing during a boat-based closure, only spear fishing gear is allowed aboard any vessel or watercraft. Also, when angling from shore during a boat-based closure, no vessel or watercraft may be used to assist in taking or possessing species included in this table. The following definitions describe boat-based and shore-based anglers, and divers:
    • 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 angling from beaches, banks, piers, jetties, breakwaters, docks and other manmade structures connected to the shore.
    • Divers are spear fishermen entering the water either from the shore or from a boat or other floating object.
  3. During the closed season, Pacific sanddab, butter sole, curlfin sole, flathead sole, rex sole, rock sole, and sand sole (defined as "Other Flatfish" in subsection 1.91(a)(10)) may be taken.
  4. See regulations for information on gear restrictions (sections 28.65, 28.70, 28.90, 28.91, and 28.95) and fillet lengths (Section 27.65).
  5. Total length is the longest straight-line measurement from the tip of the head with the mouth closed to the end of the longest lobe of the tail. A link opens in new windowmeasurement method illustration (PDF) is available in the current Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.

EXCEPTION: During the open season, groundfish may be possessed in closed areas and in water depths closed to fishing only aboard vessels in transit with no fishing gear in the water. See Section 27.20(b).

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San Francisco Management Area

Ocean waters between 38°57.5' N. latitude (Point Arena) and 37°11' N. latitude (Pigeon Point)
Includes a portion of Mendocino County, all of Sonoma, Marin, San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, and most of San Mateo County

link opens in new windowView a printer-friendly version of this table (PDF)

Note: Before engaging in ocean sportfishing for groundfish and associated species, please review one of the resources listed in Footnote 1 to receive the most up-to-date regulations. Some marine protected areas restrict or prohibit sport fishing. Check the MPA website for more information.

Species Time Period1,2,3,4
Depth Limit1,2,3,4 Daily Bag Limit1 Min. Size Limit1,5,6

RCG Complex1
(including all species of Rockfishes, Cabezon and Greenlings, Sections 1.91 and 28.55, 28.28, and 28.29)

Boat-based Anglers2:
Open: Apr 15 - Dec 31
Closed: Jan 1 - Apr 14

Divers, Shore-based Anglers2:
Open year-round

Apr 15 - Oct 15: Take is prohibited seaward of the 40 fathom depth contour (240 feet), defined in Federal regulations (50 CFR Part 660, Subpart C)

Oct 16 - Dec 31: Take is prohibited seaward of the 30 fathom depth contour (180 feet), defined in Federal regulations (50 CFR Part 660, Subpart C)

SEE EXCEPTION AT END OF TABLE

10 fish in combination per person EXCEPT:

Black rockfish: 3 fish per person


Cabezon: 3 fish per person

Canary rockfish: 1 fish per person

See individual species and groups below:

Cabezon: 15” total length


Kelp and/or rock greenlings: 12” total length

THESE ROCKFISHES MAY NOT BE TAKEN OR POSSESSED IN CALIFORNIA:

Bronzespotted Rockfish, Cowcod, and Yelloweye Rockfish  (Section 28.55)

FISHING IS CLOSED year-round, at all depths            NO RETENTION at any time (zero fish per person)

Lingcod
(Section 28.27)

Same as RCG Complex, above

2 fish per person

22” total length

California Scorpionfish
(Section 28.54)

Boat-based Anglers2:
Open: Apr 15 - Aug 31
Closed: Jan 1 - Apr 14, and Sep 1 - Dec 31

Divers, Shore-based Anglers2:
Open year-round

Same as RCG Complex, above

5 fish per person

10” total length

Leopard Shark7
(Section 28.56)

All Anglers within San Francisco Bay, Bodega Harbor, Tomales Bay, Bolinas Bay, and Drakes Estero Bay1: Open year-round

All Anglers outside of the above-mentioned bays: Same as RCG Complex, above

Divers, Shore-based Anglers2:
Open year-round

All Anglers within San Francisco Bay, Bodega Harbor, Tomales Bay, Bolinas Bay, and Drakes Estero Bay1: No depth limit

All Anglers outside of the above-mentioned bays: Same as RCG Complex, above

Divers, Shore-based Anglers2: Same as RCG Complex, above

3 fish per person

36” total length

Pacific Sanddab and “Other Flatfish”3
(Section 28.48)

Open year-round

No depth limit

Pacific sanddab: No limit


All “Other Flatfish”3: 10 fish of each species, limit 20 fish total in combination per Section 27.60

No size limit

Petrale Sole and Starry Flounder
(Section 28.47)

Open year-round

No depth limit No limit

No size limit

Other Federal Groundfish
(Section 28.49)

Same as RCG Complex, above

Soupfin shark: 1 fish per person
All Other Federal Groundfish: 10 fish of each species, limit 20 fish total in combination per Section 27.60

No size limit

  1. Subject to in-season change. Call the Recreational Groundfish Fishing Regulations Hotline at (831) 649-2801, visit the CDFW website, send an e-mail to AskMarine@wildlife.ca.gov, or call your nearest CDFW office for the latest information.

    Some marine protected areas (MPAs) restrict or prohibit sport fishing within MPAs. Check the current ocean sport fishing regulations booklet or the CDFW website (see information for the open ocean coast or San Francisco Bay). You may also send an e-mail to AskMarine@wildlife.ca.gov, or call your nearest CDFW office.
  2. Divers and shore-based anglers are exempt from season restrictions affecting the RCG complex and other federally managed groundfish. However, when spear fishing during a boat-based closure, only spear fishing gear is allowed aboard any vessel or watercraft. Also, when angling from shore during a boat-based closure, no vessel or watercraft may be used to assist in taking or possessing species included in this table. The following definitions describe boat-based and shore-based anglers, and divers:
    • 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 angling from beaches, banks, piers, jetties, breakwaters, docks and other manmade structures connected to the shore.
    • Divers are spear fishermen entering the water either from the shore or from a boat or other floating object.
  3. During the closed season, Pacific sanddab, butter sole, curlfin sole, flathead sole, rex sole, rock sole, and sand sole (defined as "Other Flatfish" in subsection 1.91(a)(10)) may be taken.
  4. Per federal regulations, the waters of Cordell Bank less than 100 fathoms (600 ft.) in depth are closed at all times for all groundfish species except Pacific sanddab and "Other Flatfish". Divers and shore-based anglers are not exempt from the closures. See 50 CFR Part 660 Subpart G in federal regulations for more information.
  5. See regulations for information on gear restrictions (sections 28.65, 28.70, 28.90, 28.91, and 28.95) and fillet lengths (Section 27.65).
  6. Total length is the longest straight-line measurement from the tip of the head with the mouth closed to the end of the longest lobe of the tail. A link opens in new windowmeasurement method illustration (PDF) is available in the current Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.
  7. The sport fishery for leopard shark inside San Francisco Bay, Bodega Harbor, Tomales Bay, Bolinas Bay, and Drakes Estero Bay is exempt from season and depth restrictions that affect other federally managed groundfish (Section 28.56).

EXCEPTION: During the open season, groundfish may be possessed in closed areas and in water depths closed to fishing only aboard vessels in transit with no fishing gear in the water. See Section 27.20(b).

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Central Management Area

Ocean waters between 37°11' N. latitude (Pigeon Point) and 34°27' N. latitude (Point Conception)
Includes all of Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties, and parts of Santa Barbara and San Mateo Counties

link opens in new windowView a printer-friendly version of this table (PDF)

Note: Before engaging in ocean sport fishing for groundfish and associated species, please review one of the resources listed in Footnote 1 to receive the most up-to-date regulations. Some marine protected areas restrict or prohibit sport fishing. Check the MPA website for more information.

Species Time Period1,2,3 Depth Limit1,2,3 Daily Bag Limit1 Min. Size Limit1,4,5

RCG Complex1
(including all species of Rockfishes, Cabezon and Greenlings, Sections 1.91 and 28.55, 28.28, and 28.29)

Boat-based Anglers2:
Open: Apr 1 - Dec 31
Closed: Jan 1 - Mar 31

Divers, Shore-based Anglers2:
Open year-round

Apr 1 - Oct 15: Take is prohibited seaward of the 50 fathom depth contour (300 feet), defined in Federal regulations (50 CFR Part 660, Subpart C)

Oct 16 - Dec 31: Take is prohibited seaward of the 40 fathom depth contour (240 feet), defined in Federal regulations (50 CFR Part 600, Subpart C)

SEE EXCEPTION AT END OF TABLE

10 fish in combination per person EXCEPT:

Black rockfish: 3 per person


Cabezon: 3 fish per person

Canary rockfish: 1 fish per person

See individual species and groups below:

Cabezon: 15” total length


Kelp and/or rock greenlings: 12” total length

THESE ROCKFISHES MAY NOT BE TAKEN OR POSSESSED IN CALIFORNIA:

Bronzespotted Rockfish, Cowcod, and Yelloweye Rockfish  (Section 28.55)

FISHING IS CLOSED year-round, at all depths            NO RETENTION at any time (zero fish per person)

Ocean Whitefish
(Section 28.58)

Same as RCG Complex, above

10 fish per person

No size limit

California Sheephead
(Section 28.26)

Same as RCG Complex, above

5 fish per person

12” total length

Lingcod
(Section 28.27)

Same as RCG Complex, above

2 fish per person

22” total length

California Scorpionfish
(Section 28.54)

Boat-based Anglers2:
Open: Apr 1 - Aug 31
Closed: Jan 1 - Mar 31, and Sep 1 - Dec 31

Divers, Shore-based Anglers2:
Open year-round

Same as RCG Complex, above

5 fish per person

10” total length

Leopard Shark6
(Section 28.56)

All Anglers within Elkhorn Slough1: Open year-round

All Anglers outside of Elkhorn Slough: Same as RCG Complex, above

Divers, Shore-based Anglers2:
Open year-round

All Anglers within Elkhorn Slough1: No depth limit

All Anglers outside of Elkhorn Slough: Same as RCG Complex, above

Divers, Shore-based Anglers2: Same as RCG Complex, above

3 fish per person

36” total length

Pacific Sanddab and “Other Flatfish”3
(Section 28.48)

Open year-round

No depth limit

Pacific sanddab: No limit

All “Other Flatfish”3: 10 fish of each species, limit 20 fish total in combination, per Section 27.60

No size limit

Petrale Sole and Starry Flounder
(Section 28.47)

Open year-round

No depth limit  No limit  No size limit

Other Federal Groundfish
(Section 28.49)

Same as RCG Complex, above

Soupfin shark: 1 fish per person
All Other Federal Groundfish: 10 fish of each species, limit 20 fish total in combination, per Section 27.60

No size limit

  1. Subject to in-season change. Call the Recreational Groundfish Fishing Regulations Hotline at (831) 649-2801, visit the CDFW website, send an e-mail to AskMarine@wildlife.ca.gov, or call your nearest CDFW office for the latest information.

    Some marine protected areas (MPAs) restrict or prohibit sport fishing within MPAs. Check the current ocean sport fishing regulations booklet or the CDFW website, send an e-mail to AskMPA@wildlife.ca.gov, or call your nearest CDFW office for more information.
  2. Divers and shore-based anglers are exempt from season restrictions affecting the RCG complex and other federally managed groundfish. However, when spear fishing during a boat-based closure, only spear fishing gear is allowed aboard any vessel or watercraft. Also, when angling from shore during a boat-based closure, no vessel or watercraft may be used to assist in taking or possessing species included in this table. The following definitions describe boat-based and shore-based anglers, and divers:
    • 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 angling from beaches, banks, piers, jetties, breakwaters, docks and other manmade structures connected to the shore.
    • Divers are spear fishermen entering the water either from the shore or from a boat or other floating object.
  3. During the closed season, Pacific sanddab, butter sole, curlfin sole, flathead sole, rex sole, rock sole, and sand sole (defined as “Other Flatfish” in subsection 1.91(a)(10)) may be taken.
  4. See regulations for information on gear restrictions (sections 28.65, 28.70, 28.90, 28.91, and 28.95) and fillet lengths (Section 27.65).
  5. Total length is the longest straight-line measurement from the tip of the head with the mouth closed to the end of the longest lobe of the tail. A link opens in new windowmeasurement method illustration (PDF) is available in the current Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.
  6. The sport fishery for leopard shark inside Elkhorn Slough is exempt from season and depth restrictions that affect other federally managed groundfish (Section 28.56).

EXCEPTION: During the open season, groundfish may be possessed in closed areas and in water depths closed to fishing only aboard vessels in transit with no fishing gear in the water. See Section 27.20(b).

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Southern Management Area

Ocean waters between 34°27' N. latitude (Point Conception) and the U.S.-Mexico Border, excluding the Cowcod Conservation Areas3
Includes a portion of Santa Barbara County, and all of Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego Counties

link opens in new windowView a printer-friendly version of this table (PDF)

Note: Before engaging in ocean sportfishing for groundfish and associated species, please review one of the resources listed in Footnote 1 to receive the most up-to-date regulations. Some marine protected areas restrict or prohibit sport fishing. Check the MPA website for more information.

Species Time Period1,2,3,4 Depth Limit1,2,3,4 Daily Bag Limit1 Min. Size Limit1,5,6

RCG Complex1
(including all species of Rockfishes, Cabezon and Greenlings. Sections 1.91 and 28.55, 28.28, and 28.29)

Boat-based Anglers2:
Open: Mar 1 - Dec 31
Closed: Jan 1 - Feb 28

Divers, Shore-based Anglers2:
Open year-round

Take is prohibited seaward of the 60 fathom depth contour (360 feet), defined in Federal regulations (50 CFR Part 660, Subpart C)

SEE EXCEPTION AT END OF TABLE

10 fish in combination per person EXCEPT:

Black rockfish: 3 fish per person


Cabezon: 3 fish per person
Canary rockfish: 1 fish per person

See individual species and groups below:

Cabezon: 15” total length


Kelp and/or rock greenlings: 12” total length

THESE ROCKFISHES MAY NOT BE TAKEN OR POSSESSED IN CALIFORNIA:

Bronzespotted Rockfish, Cowcod, and Yelloweye Rockfish  (Section 28.55)

FISHING IS CLOSED year-round, at all depths            NO RETENTION at any time (zero fish per person)

Lingcod
(Section 28.27)

Same as RCG Complex, above

2 fish per person

22” total length

Ocean Whitefish
(Section 28.58)

Same as RCG Complex, above

10 fish per person

No size limit

California Sheephead
(Section 28.26)

Same as RCG Complex, above

5 fish per person

12” total length

California Scorpionfish
(Section 28.54)

Boat-based Anglers2:
Open: Jan 1 - Aug 31
Closed: Sep 1 - Dec 31

Divers, Shore-based Anglers2:
Open year-round

Same as RCG Complex, above

5 fish per person

10” total length

Leopard Shark7
(Section 28.56)

All Anglers within Newport Bay, Alamitos Bay, San Diego Bay, and Mission Bay: Open year-round

All Anglers outside of the above-mentioned bays: Same as RCG Complex, above

Divers, Shore-based Anglers2:
Open year-round

All Anglers within Newport Bay, Alamitos Bay, San Diego Bay, and Mission Bay: No depth limit

All Anglers outside of the above-mentioned bays: Same as RCG Complex, above

Divers, Shore-based Anglers2: Same as RCG complex, above

3 fish per person

36” total length

Pacific Sanddab and “Other Flatfish”4 (Section 28.48)

Open year-round

No depth limit

Pacific sanddab: No limit


All “Other Flatfish”4: 10 fish of each species, limit 20 fish total in combination per Section 27.60

No size limit

Petrale Sole and Starry Flounder
(Section 28.47)

Open year-round No depth limit   No limit

No size limit

Other Federal Groundfish
(Section 28.49)

Same as RCG Complex, above

Soupfin shark: 1 fish per person

All Other Federal Groundfish: 10 fish of each species, limit 20 fish total in combination, per Section 27.60

No size limit

  1. Subject to in-season change. Call the Recreational Groundfish Fishing Regulations Hotline at (831) 649-2801, visit the CDFW website, send an e-mail to AskMarine@wildlife.ca.gov, or call your nearest CDFW office for the latest information.

    Some marine protected areas (MPAs) restrict or prohibit sport fishing within MPAs. Check the current ocean sport fishing regulations booklet or the CDFW website, send an e-mail to AskMPA@wildlife.ca.gov, or call your nearest CDFW office for more information.
  2. Divers and shore-based anglers are exempt from season restrictions affecting the RCG complex and other federally managed groundfish. However, when spear fishing during a boat-based closure, only spear fishing gear is allowed aboard any vessel or watercraft. Also, when angling from shore during a boat-based closure, no vessel or watercraft may be used to assist in taking or possessing species included in this table. The following definitions describe boat-based and shore-based anglers, and divers:
    • 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 angling from beaches, banks, piers, jetties, breakwaters, docks and other manmade structures connected to the shore.
    • Divers are spear fishermen entering the water either from the shore or from a boat or other floating object.
  3. See the Cowcod Conservation Areas table and/or Section 27.50 for further information on fishing regulations in these areas.
  4. During the closed season, Pacific sanddab, butter sole, curlfin sole, flathead sole, rex sole, rock sole, and sand sole (defined as “Other Flatfish” in subsection 1.91(a)(10)) may be taken.
  5. See regulations for information on gear restrictions (sections 28.65, 28.70, 28.90, 28.91, and 28.95) and fillet lengths (Section 27.65).
  6. Total length is the longest straight-line measurement from the tip of the head with the mouth closed to the end of the longest lobe of the tail. A link opens in new windowmeasurement method illustration (PDF) is available in the current Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.
  7. The sport fishery for leopard shark inside Newport Bay, Alamitos Bay, Mission Bay, and San Diego Bay is exempt from season and depth restrictions that affect other federally managed groundfish (Section 28.56).

EXCEPTION: During the open season, groundfish may be possessed in closed areas and in water depths closed to fishing only aboard vessels in transit with no fishing gear in the water. See Section 27.20(b).

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Cowcod Conservation Areas

Ocean waters between 34°27' N. latitude (Point Conception) and the U.S.-Mexico Border:
Area 1 is located south of the northern Channel Islands. Area 2 is located west of San Diego.
View a map and exact location coordinates.

In these areas, only the groundfish listed within this table may be caught or possessed (See EXCEPTION at end of table).

link opens in new windowView a printer-friendly version of this table (PDF)

Note: Before engaging in ocean sportfishing for groundfish and associated species, please review one of the resources listed in Footnote 3 to receive the most up-to-date regulations. Some marine protected areas restrict or prohibit sport fishing. Check the MPA website for more information.

Species Time Period3,4 Depth Limit3,4 Daily Bag Limit3 Min. Size Limit3,6,7

Nearshore Rockfish1 and Shelf Rockfish2 as defined in Section 1.91(a)(1) and 1.91(a)(3), and Cabezon and Greenlings as defined in sections 28.28 and 28.29

Boat-based Anglers4:
Open: Mar 1 - Dec 31
Closed: Jan 1 - Feb 28

Divers, Shore-based Anglers4:
Open year-round

Take is prohibited seaward of 20 fathoms (120 feet) in depth

SEE EXCEPTION AT END OF TABLE

10 fish in combination per person EXCEPT:

Black rockfish: 3 fish per person

Cabezon: 3 fish per person

Canary rockfish: 1 fish per person

See individual species and groups below:

Cabezon: 15” total length


Kelp and/or rock greenlings: 12” total length

Lingcod
(Section 28.27)

Same as Nearshore Rockfish, Shelf Rockfish, Cabezon, and Greenlings, above

2 fish per person

22” total length

Ocean Whitefish
(Section 28.58)

Same as Nearshore Rockfish, Shelf Rockfish, Cabezon, and Greenlings, above

10 fish per person

No size limit

California Sheephead
(Section 28.26)

Same as Nearshore Rockfish, Shelf Rockfish, Cabezon, and Greenlings, above

5 fish per person

12” total length

California Scorpionfish
(Section 28.54)

Boat-based Anglers4:
Open: Jan 1 - Aug 31
Closed: Sep 1 - Dec 31

Divers, Shore-based Anglers4:
Open year-round

Same as Nearshore Rockfish, Shelf Rockfish, Cabezon, and Greenlings, above

5 fish per person

10” total length

Pacific Sanddab and “Other Flatfish”5 (Section 28.48)

Open year-round

No depth limit 

Pacific sanddab: No limit


All “Other Flatfish”5: 10 fish of each species, limit 20 fish total in combination, per Section 27.60
 No size limit

Petrale Sole and Starry Flounder
(Section 28.47)

 Open year-round No depth limit No limit No size limit

THE GROUNDFISH SPECIES LISTED BELOW MAY NOT BE TAKEN IN THE COWCOD CONSERVATION AREAS.

FISHING IS CLOSED year-round, at all depths            NO RETENTION at any time (zero fish per person)

 Cowcod, Bronzespotted and Yelloweye Rockfishes (Section 28.55)
Slope Rockfishes as defined in subsection 1.91(a)(4)
Leopard Shark (Section 28.56)
Other Federal Groundfish (Section 28.49)
  1. "Nearshore rockfish" as described in Section 1.91(a)(1) means black rockfish, black-and-yellow rockfish, blue rockfish, brown rockfish, calico rockfish, China rockfish, copper rockfish, gopher rockfish, grass rockfish, kelp rockfish, olive rockfish, quillback rockfish, and treefish.
  2. "Shelf rockfish" as described in subsection 1.91(a)(3) means bocaccio, canary rockfish, chilipepper rockfish, dusky rockfish, flag rockfish, greenblotched rockfish, greenspotted rockfish, greenstriped rockfish, harlequin rockfish, honeycomb rockfish, Mexican rockfish, pink rockfish, redstripe rockfish, rosethorn rockfish, rosy rockfish, shortbelly rockfish, silvergray rockfish, speckeled rockfish, squarespot rockfish, starry rockfish, stripetail rockfish, tiger rockfish, vermillion rockfish, widow rockfish, and yellowtail rockfish. Take and possession of bronzespotted rockfish, cowcod rockfish, and yelloweye rockfish is prohibited.
  3. Subject to in-season change. Call the Recreational Groundfish Fishing Regulations Hotline at (831) 649-2801, visit the CDFW website, send an e-mail to AskMarine@wildlife.ca.gov, or call your nearest CDFW office for the latest information.

    Some marine protected areas (MPAs) restrict or prohibit sport fishing within MPAs. Check the current ocean sport fishing regulations booklet or the CDFW website, send an e-mail to AskMPA@wildlife.ca.gov, or call your nearest CDFW office for more information.
  4. Divers and shore-based anglers are exempt from season restrictions affecting the RCG complex and other federally managed groundfish. However, when spear fishing during a boat-based closure, only spear fishing gear is allowed aboard any vessel or watercraft. Also, when angling from shore during a boat-based closure, no vessel or watercraft may be used to assist in taking or possessing species included in this table. The following definitions describe boat-based and shore-based anglers, and divers:
    • 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 angling from beaches, banks, piers, jetties, breakwaters, docks and other manmade structures connected to the shore.
    • Divers are spear fishermen entering the water either from the shore or from a boat or other floating object.
  5. During the closed season, Pacific sanddab, butter sole, curlfin sole, flathead sole, rex sole, rock sole, and sand sole (defined as “Other Flatfish” in subsection 1.91(a)(10)) may be taken
  6. See regulations for information on gear restrictions (sections 28.65, 28.70, 28.90, 28.91, and 28.95) and fillet lengths (Section 27.65).
  7. Total length is the longest straight-line measurement from the tip of the head with the mouth closed to the end of the longest lobe of the tail. A link opens in new windowmeasurement method illustration (PDF) is available in the current Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.

EXCEPTION: During the open season, groundfish may be possessed in closed areas and in water depths closed to fishing only aboard vessels in transit with no fishing gear in the water. See Section 27.20(b).

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Marine Region (Region 7)
Regional Manager: Dr. Craig Shuman
Main Office: 20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Suite 100, Monterey, CA  93940
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