California Recreational Fisheries Survey (CRFS)

3 people smiling at camera
CRFS staff taking surveys
woman in boat holding fish
CDFW staff - Man holding fish
2 CDFW Staff posing for camera
CDFW staff person in boat holding fish
CDFW staff in boat holding fish
reflection of sun in water


The California Recreational Fisheries Survey (CRFS) mission is to collect fishery-dependent data on California’s marine recreational fisheries, and to accurately estimate catch and effort in a time frame and on a scale that meets management needs. CRFS collects the data necessary to estimate catch and effort for California’s diverse recreational finfish fisheries which range from the California-Mexico border to the California-Oregon border extending over 1,100 miles of coast, and is surveyed at over 400 sampling sites. Annually, CRFS conducts over 7,000 sampling assignments and contacts over 68,000 fishing parties. High sampling rates produce confidence in estimates with a 20 percent sample rate of private boat anglers during salmon or groundfish seasons. CRFS collects the data to produce the estimates for all sport-caught finfish.

Collecting recreational fisheries data can be challenging because:

  • Recreational fishing effort and success rates are highly dynamic—a large sample is needed to adequately estimate catch and effort; therefore this requires a great amount of resources to meet this sampling need.
  • Fishing effort is challenging to predict—sportfishing is affected by weather, gas prices and the economy, time of year and fishing seasons; probably more so than for the commercial sector.

Nevertheless, the recreational sector accounts for a significant portion of overall harvest of marine fish species in California. Therefore it is imperative to collect the necessary data and produce estimates of harvest to give fishery managers the information they need to sustainably manage this sector.

Learn more about CRFS goals, history, and the dedicated staff that collect data.

CRFS sampler with an anglerAngler cooperation is critical to the success of the survey. Angler participation is essential to ensure accurate data collection and sustainable management of California's marine recreational fisheries.