Current California Ocean Recreational Fishing Regulations - Northern Region

42°00 N. Latitude (Oregon Border) to 40°10 N. Latitude (near Cape Mendocino in Humboldt County)

Includes all of Del Norte County and most of Humboldt County

This summary of current regulations was updated on January 1, 2024

See California ocean sport fishing regulations for complete regulation information, including regulations for species not covered here.

Closed Fishing Seasons

closed  Razor Clam in Del Norte County
closed  Red Abalone
closed  Ocean Salmon
closed  Pacific Halibut

Additional Information

Open Fishing Seasons

  Rockfish

This fishery is currently closed for boat-based angling.

Quillback rockfish(opens in new tab) may not be retained effective August 7, 2023. Read the press release announcing the regulation change.(opens in new tab)  More Information(opens in new tab)

Please see the Northern Management Area Recreational Groundfish Regulations Summary table for current recreational rockfish fishing regulations.

Rockfish Identification Guides (PDFs)(opens in new tab)

  Cabezon

This fishery is currently closed for boat-based angling.

Please see the Northern Management Area Recreational Groundfish Regulations Summary table for current recreational cabezon(opens in new tab) fishing regulations.

  Kelp Greenling, Rock Greenling

These fisheries are currently closed for boat-based angling.

Please see the Northern Management Area Recreational Groundfish Regulations Summary table for current recreational kelp greenling(opens in new tab) and rock greenling(opens in new tab) fishing regulations.

Lingcod

This fishery is currently closed for boat-based angling.

Please see the Northern Management Area Recreational Groundfish Regulations Summary table for current recreational lingcod(opens in new tab) fishing regulations.

  Leopard Shark

The recreational fishery for leopard shark(opens in new tab) (Triakis semifasciata) is open year-round, at all depths. 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 table of groundfish regulations.

View additional groundfish information.

  Pacific Sanddab and Other Flatfish

The recreational fishery is open year-round, at all depths for the following species: Pacific sanddab(opens in new tab) (Citharichthys sordidus), butter sole(opens in new tab) (Isopsetta isolepis), curlfin sole(opens in new tab) (Pleuronichthys decurrens), flathead sole(opens in new tab) (Hippoglossoides elassodon), rex sole (PDF)(opens in new tab) (Glyptocephalus zachirus), rock sole(opens in new tab) (Lepidopsetta bilineata), and sand sole(opens in new tab) (Psettichthys melanostictus). When filleting fish on a vessel, each fillet must bear a one-inch square patch of skin. Refer to groundfish sport fishing regulations for size limits, bag limits, and other regulations pertaining to these species.

Identification Guide: Common Sport-Caught Flatfishes of Del Norte, Humboldt, and Mendocino Counties (PDF)

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 table of groundfish regulations.

View additional groundfish information.

  Petrale Sole and Starry Flounder

The recreational fisheries for petrale sole (Eopsetta jordani) and starry flounder(opens in new tab) (Platichthys stellatus) are open year-round, at all depths. There are no bag or size limits for petrale sole or starry flounder. Refer to groundfish sport fishing regulations for complete information pertaining to these species.

Identification Guide: Common Sport-Caught Flatfishes of Del Norte, Humboldt, and Mendocino Counties (PDF)

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 table of groundfish regulations.

View additional groundfish information.

  Other Federally Managed Groundfish

The recreational fisheries for all other federally managed groundfish species (soupfin shark(opens in new tab), Dover sole, English sole, arrowtooth flounder, spiny dogfish(opens in new tab), skates, ratfish, grenadiers, finescale codling, Pacific cod, Pacific whiting, sablefish(opens in new tab), and thornyheads) are open year-round, at all depths. Refer to groundfish 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 table of groundfish regulations.

View additional groundfish information.

  Sharks (state-managed)

Open year-round, except that white sharks(opens in new tab) (Carcharodon carcharias) may not be taken or possessed at any time. The bag limits for sixgill shark (YouTube)(opens in new tab) (Hexanchus griseus) and broadnose sevengill shark (opens in new tab) (Notorynchus cepedianus) allow take of one fish per day with no size limit. The bag limits for shortfin mako shark(opens in new tab) (Isurus oxyrinchus), common thresher shark(opens in new tab) (Alopias vulpinus), and blue shark(opens in new tab) (Prionace glauca) allow take of two fish per day with no size limit.

  California Halibut

The recreational fishery for California halibut(opens in new tab) (Paralichthys californicus) remains open year-round. As of June 2, 2023, the daily bag and total possession limit is two fish north of Point Sur, Monterey County. The minimum size limit is 22 inches total length.

Identification Guide: Common Sport-Caught Flatfishes of Del Norte, Humboldt, and Mendocino Counties (PDF)

  Surfperch

The recreational fishery for surfperch (PDF)(opens in new tab) (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(opens in new tab) (Cymatogaster aggregata) have a separate bag and possession limit of 20 fish. Redtail surfperch(opens in new tab) (Amphistichus rhodoterus) have a minimum size limit of 10½ inches total length.

Identification Guide: Common Surfperches of California (PDF)(opens in new tab)

  Sturgeon

The recreational fishery for white sturgeon(opens in new tab) (Acipenser transmontanus) remains open year-round in ocean waters. The daily bag and possession limit is one fish that must be between 42 inches and 48 inches fork length. The annual limit is one (1) sturgeon per person, and the maximum number of sturgeon that may be in possession aboard a vessel is two (2) fish. Read the press release announcing emergency regulation changes.

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 27.92.

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 California ocean sport fishing regulations for bag limits, possession limits, fillet procedures on vessels, and other regulations pertaining to these species.

  Pacific Herring

The recreational fishery for Pacific herring (PDF)(opens in new tab) (Clupea pallasi) is open year-round. Ten gallons of Pacific herring may be taken per day (approximately 100 lb. or 520 fish). No specialized measuring device is required.

  Dungeness Crab

NOTE: A recreational Fleet Advisory is in effect statewide. Avoid setting traps in areas where whales are transiting or foraging, and follow best practices for using crab traps(opens in new tab).

The recreational fishery for Dungeness crab(opens in new tab) (Metacarcinus magister) is open from November 4, 2023 through July 30, 2024 in Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties. The daily bag limit is 10 crab, and the minimum size limit is 5¾ inches. Recreational crabbing is not allowed from vessels licensed for commercial Dungeness crab fishing.

Review crab measurement methods (PDF)(opens in new tab) and current California ocean sport fishing regulations for more Dungeness crab fishing information.

  Rock Crab

NOTE: A recreational Fleet Advisory is in effect statewide. Avoid setting traps in areas where whales are transiting or foraging, and follow best practices for using crab traps(opens in new tab).

The recreational fishery for all rock crab species, including red crab(opens in new tab) (Cancer productus), yellow crab(opens in new tab) (Metacarcinus anthonyi) and brown crab(opens in new tab) (Romaleon antennarium) is open year-round, statewide. The daily bag limit is 35 crab, and the minimum size limit is 4 inches.

Although rock crab season is normally open year-round, the season was closed in 2016 north of Pigeon Point, San Mateo County due to high levels of domoic acid(opens in new tab) in the crab. The season fully reopened on November 1, 2016, however the California Department of Public Health still recommends that consumers not eat the viscera (internal organs (guts), also known as "crab butter") of crabs caught from two areas: 1) from the Mendocino-Humboldt county line to Cape Mendocino, and 2) from the Humboldt Bay north jetty to the California-Oregon border(opens in new tab).

Review crab measurement methods (PDF)(opens in new tab) and the current California ocean sport fishing regulations for more rock crab fishing information.

  Mussels

The recreational season for California sea mussel(opens in new tab) (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(opens in new tab) to prevent human cases of paralytic shellfish poisoning and domoic acid(opens in new tab) 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 CDPH's toll-free Shellfish Information Line at (800) 553-4133 or check CDPH's recreational bivalve shellfish advisory interactive map(opens in new tab). You can also review CDFW's Finfish and Shellfish Health Advisories web page.

  Clams

NOTE: The razor clam fishery in Del Norte County is closed(opens in new tab). This closure will remain in effect until further notice, due to the California Department of Public Health advisory that consumers avoid eating sport-harvested razor clams from Del Norte County beaches(opens in new tab). Dangerous levels of domoic acid have been found in sport-harvested razor clams(opens in new tab). For the latest advisory information, call CDPH's toll-free Shellfish Information Line at (800) 553-4133 or check CDPH's recreational bivalve shellfish advisory interactive map(opens in new tab).

During the open season, clams may be taken from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. Each person must dig only their own limit of clams. Each person is required to keep a separate container for their clams and not commingle with clams taken by another person. Hydraulic pumps may not be used to take clams, and may not be possessed anywhere clams may be taken. It is unlawful to be on any clam beach with any instrument capable of being used to dig clams during the closed nighttime hours.

Review California ocean sport fishing regulations for size limits, bag limits, seasons, and other regulations that apply for various species of clam.

  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 eelgrass(opens in new tab), surfgrass(opens in new tab), or sea palm may be cut or disturbed at any time.

  Other Species

See California ocean sport fishing regulations for complete regulations, including regulations for species not covered here.

Closed Fishing Seasons

Ocean Salmon

The recreational fishery for ocean salmon(opens in new tab) (Onchorynchus spp.) is closed as of September 6, 2022. More information is available on the CDFW Ocean Salmon Seasons web page.

  Red Abalone

The recreational fishery for red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) is closed until at least April 1, 2026(opens in new tab). For more information about red abalone, visit the Invertebrate Management Project web page.

Pacific Halibut

The recreational fishery for Pacific halibut(opens in new tab) (Hippoglossus stenolepis) is closed as of August 5, 2023, and is expected to reopen on May 1, 2024. For further information about Pacific halibut, please visit the CDFW Pacific halibut web page.

  Razor Clam

The fishery for Pacific razor clam(opens in new tab) (Siliqua patula) in Del Norte County(opens in new tab) is closed until further notice. The fishery will reopen when a health risk no longer exists due to unhealthy levels of domoic acid(opens in new tab) in sport-harvested Del Norte County(opens in new tab) clams.

To get the latest information on current fishing season closures related to domoic acid, please call CDFW’s Domoic Acid Fishery Closure Information Line at (831) 649-2883. For the latest health advisory information, call CDPH's toll-free Shellfish Information Line at (800) 553-4133 or check CDPH's recreational bivalve shellfish advisory interactive map(opens in new tab).

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 angling 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 and greenlings of the genus Hexagrammos, 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 and greenlings of the genus Hexagrammos during a seasonal closure for boat-based anglers.

The recreational fisheries for Pacific halibut, federally managed groundfish species and greenlings of the genus Hexagrammos may close early if the annual harvest guideline for any one species or group of species is met or is expected to be met prior to the end of the year. Check this website regularly for the latest information.

Federally managed groundfish species that may not be taken and/or possessed in part of a groundfish management area (for example, in a state or federal marine reserve, or other closed area) may be possessed aboard a vessel in transit through the closed area with no fishing gear deployed in the water.

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. You can also pick up an MPA brochure at your local CDFW office. Information about California MPAs is also available on the mobile device-friendly Ocean Sport Fishing and Marine Protected Area Regulations web page.

Oregon Border to 40°10 N. Latitude (near Cape Mendocino)
California-Oregon Border to 40°10 N. Latitude (near Cape Mendocino)
Note: Map shows state marine protected areas.

Additional Resources

2023-2024 Ocean Sport Fishing Regulation Booklet (PDF)2022-2023 Ocean Sport Fishing Regulation Booklet (PDF)(opens in new tab)

Visit our Ocean Sport Fishing web page for sport fishing regulations, fish identification resources, how-to videos, maps, and other useful fishing information.

cell phone Try our Ocean Sport Fishing Interactive Web Map(opens in new tab) on your next fishing trip! Find fishing regulations, marine protected areas, groundfish conservation area depth restrictions, and more from your cell phone!