The complexity of the sport fishing regulations is due to CDFW's goal of providing the most fishing opportunities to sport fishermen, while meeting state and federal mandates to manage, protect, and restore marine fisheries.
This requirement has been repealed. Effective March 1, 2010 anglers no longer have to display their sport fishing license on their outer clothing above the waist, but their sport fishing license must still be in their possession while fishing. When diving from a boat or shore, divers may have their license on the boat or within 500 yards on the shore, respectively (Ref Section 7145).
No; but it must be a public fishing pier.
Public piers have a specific definition in Section 1.88 of Title 14, California Code of Regulations (CCR)(opens in new tab). Public piers must be connected to the shoreline, allow for free, unrestricted public access, and have been built or currently function for the primary purpose of fishing.
Publicly owned jetties and breakwaters may also be "public piers" but, in addition, must form the most seaward protective boundary of an ocean harbor. Jetties and other structures that are not the most seaward boundary are not public piers.
Even though a fishing license is not required on a public pier, all other regulations (including minimum size, bag limits, report cards, and seasons) apply while fishing from a public pier. Additionally, only two rods and lines, handlines, or nets, traps, or other appliances used to take crabs may be used per person on a public pier (CCR Title 14, Section 28.65(b)).
View a list and zoomable map of California public piers, jetties, and breakwaters as defined by Section 1.88 of Title 14, CCR. Note that CDFW cannot guarantee that individual piers, jetties, or breakwaters will be open to the public. The landowner may close these areas for safety, maintenance, or other reasons at any time.
The daily bag and possession limit for California scorpionfish (Scorpaena guttata), aka sculpin, is 5 fish per angler. The minimum size limit is 10 inches, with a minimum fillet length of 5 inches.
View a summary of the current California scorpionfish regulations.
This is due to the similarity of appearance between whitefish and bass (barred sand bass and kelp bass) fillets, to prevent dishonest anglers from taking undersized bass (minimum size limit is 14 inches total length), filleting them on the vessel and then claiming they are whitefish fillets. If you catch and choose to keep an ocean whitefish that may not meet the minimum fillet length (6½ inches) once it is filleted, the best advice to avoid running into this problem is to keep the fish whole, or gutted, until you get home and then prepare the fish for eating.
The general bag and possession limit of Section 27.60 states that no more than 20 finfish in combination of all species with not more than 10 of any one species, may be taken or possessed by any one person. Within this general bag limit of 20 fish with not more than 10 of any one species, special sublimits apply to many species. There are also many species that have no bag or possession limit. Refer to the ocean sport fishing regulations for complete information.
Any number of hooks and fishing lines may be used in all ocean waters and bays with the following exceptions:
- You can only use one line with no more than three hooks while fishing in San Francisco and San Pablo bays between the Golden Gate Bridge and the west Carquinez Bridge.
- When you are fishing from a public pier you can use only two rods and lines, two hand lines, or two crab nets, crab traps or other appliances used to take crabs.
- When you are fishing for rockfish, California scorpionfish, cabezon, kelp greenling, rock greenling, or lingcod, or you have rockfish, California scorpionfish, cabezon, kelp greenling, rock greenling, or lingcod aboard your boat, you can only use one line with no more than two hooks.
- When you are fishing for Pacific halibut, you can only use one line with no more than two hooks.
- When you are fishing for white sturgeon, only one single point, single shank barbless hook may be used on one line.
- If you are fishing north of Point Conception for salmon or have salmon on board your boat, you can only use one rod and line with no more than two single barbless hooks (check current salmon regulations for other hook restrictions).
Ref. Section 28.54, 28.65, 27.90 and 28.20
- You can not use weights over four pounds, unless the weight is attached to a downrigger and the fishing line releases automatically from the downrigger when a fish is hooked.
- You can only use up to two single point, single shank barbless hooks when fishing for salmon or when you have salmon on your boat, even if you are fishing for something other than salmon.
- If you are fishing for salmon with bait or have salmon on board and you are not trolling (drifting or mooching), you can use no more than two single point, single shank circle hooks. If you are using two hooks for mooching with bait, the hooks have to be tied in place so they do not slide (hard tied), and the distance between the hooks must not exceed five inches measured from the top of the eye of the top hook to the inner base of the curve of the lower hook.
- If you are salmon fishing or have salmon on board your boat when fishing for something else, you can only use one fishing rod and line north of Pt. Conception.
Ref. Section 27.80
Because you have salmon on board your boat, you are restricted to using only gear that is legal to take salmon. You can only use one fishing rod and line. You can only use up to two hooks and those hooks have to be single and barbless. If you put bait on your hooks the hooks have to be single barbless circle hooks. For example: You can fish with a single Scampi jig and a shrimp fly with the barbs pinched down or you can fish with two barbless shrimp flies and a weight. If you put on bait you can use two barbless circle hooks with or without attached lures.
Ref. Section 27.80
If your rockfish or lingcod were taken during a time period when there are no depth limits for rockfish or lingcod for that Groundfish Management Area (GMA), then you are restricted to the ocean salmon regulations when fishing for salmon. If your rockfish or lingcod were taken during a time period when there is an offshore fishery (a fishery that is open seaward of a specified Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) line) for that GMA, you are restricted to fishing for salmon in water seaward of the RCA line depth limit for your area. When shelf or slope rockfish or lingcod are aboard a vessel, anglers may transit waters shoreward of the GMA depth limit during an offshore fishery, but cannot deploy fishing gear within waters shoreward of that GMA depth limit.
If you are fishing for salmon and don't have rockfish or lingcod on the boat, but then you catch a rockfish or lingcod, the GMA depth limit for that time period also applies. If you are fishing in water shoreward of the GMA depth limit for your area, you cannot keep the rockfish, or lingcod because they cannot be taken in water shoreward of the GMA depth limit. If you are fishing for salmon in water seaward of the GMA depth limit during an offshore fishery, but you catch a shelf or slope rockfish or lingcod and keep it, you now are restricted to fishing for salmon in water seaward of the GMA depth limit because shelf and slope rockfish and lingcod cannot be possessed while fishing in water shoreward of the GMA depth limit; nearshore rockfish, cabezon and greenlings cannot be taken or possessed at any time during an offshore fishery.
View summaries of groundfish management area regulations for information on when all depth and offshore fisheries occur in each GMA.
No more than one daily bag limit of each kind of fish, amphibian, reptile, mollusk or crustacean may be taken or possessed by any one person unless otherwise authorized (see Section 27.15 and Section 27.80(e)); regardless of whether they are fresh, frozen, canned, smoked, or otherwise preserved. This includes in your home.
Ref. Section 1.17.
Yes, you can give fish away. The person you give fish to does not need to have a fishing license. A fishing license is only needed to take fish. You can still only take one daily limit, but you can give that limit away so that you can go fishing the next day and not be in possession of more than one daily bag and possession limit. So, if you have two people in your boat, car, camp or living in your home, you can possess two limits of fish in your boat, car, camp or home.
- reported to 90 pounds,
- 50% are mature by 28 inches, total length,
- the oldest recorded white seabass was 16 years.
- reported to 72 pounds,
- 50% of males mature by 9 inches, females by 18 inches,
- the oldest recorded California halibut was a 30-year-old female.
Contact any CDFW Marine Region
office. They will either help you with the identification or find someone
close to you who can identify it. You can also send your question, with a digital picture of your fish, to AskMarine@wildlife.ca.gov.
Note: Your questions sent to AskMarine@wildlife.ca.gov, and CDFW's response, may be posted on the Internet or published in periodicals to help others with similar questions. If you do not wish your question to be used in this manner, please indicate this in your email.
Recent indicators show corbina populations are improving,
based on juvenile fish sampling. As for the disappearance of corbina in the
winter, they may be seeking warmer water by moving further south or into
embayments, or perhaps offshore. Unfortunately, movement patterns of corbina
are not well understood.
Many rockfish species will not survive if caught in deep water and returned to the ocean. Because of changes in internal pressure after the fish is hooked and retrieved from great depths, there is physical trauma to the gas bladder and other internal organs (called barotrauma). Minimum size limits would not be an effective management tool for most species of rockfish because of this reason.
Most of the mako sharks caught off Southern California are
small (under 4 feet) because the Southern California Bight is part of a juvenile
shark nursery area. The adults live in different habitat, either far offshore
or in very deep water. Many shark populations are known to segregate by size,
an adaptation thought to keep young sharks from being preyed upon by larger
relatives. A size limit restricted to adult mako sharks would effectively
shut down the recreational fishery because of the scarcity of large fish
in Southern California waters. So far, there is no supporting biological
information to show conservation benefits from a minimum size limit on mako
sharks. Currently, the allowable take is two (2) mako sharks per person per
day, within the twenty fish per day limit.
CDFW's License and Revenue branch maintains a FAQ page with frequently asked questions about sport fishing licenses.