Current California Ocean Recreational Fishing Regulations - Southern Region

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 April 12, 2024.

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

Open Fishing Seasons

Rockfish

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

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

Cabezon

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

Kelp Greenling, Rock Greenling

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

Lingcod

Please see the Southern Management Area Recreational Groundfish Regulations Summary table(opens in new tab) 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). Refer to groundfish 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 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.

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.

California Scorpionfish (a.k.a. sculpin)

The recreational fishery for California scorpionfish(opens in new tab) (Scorpaena guttata) is open year-round, at all depths. 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 table of groundfish regulations.

View additional groundfish information.

Other Federally Managed Groundfish

The recreational fisheries for all other federally managed groundfish species (soupfin shark, Dover sole, English sole, arrowtooth flounder, spiny dogfish, skates, ratfish, grenadiers, finescale codling, Pacific cod, Pacific whiting, sablefish, 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.

California Halibut

The recreational fishery for California halibut(opens in new tab) (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.

Kelp Bass, Barred Sand Bass, Spotted Sand Bass

The fisheries for kelp bass(opens in new tab), barred sand bass(opens in new tab), and spotted sand bass(opens in new tab) (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.

White Seabass

The recreational fishery for white seabass(opens in new tab) (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.

California Sheephead

The recreational fishery for California sheephead(opens in new tab) (Bodianus pulcher) is open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. This fishery is open to boat-based anglers from March 1, 2024 through December 31, 2024. The daily bag and possession limit is 2 fish, with a minimum size limit of 12 inches total length. Review California sport fishing regulations for further information pertaining to California sheephead.

Ocean Whitefish

The recreational fishery for ocean whitefish(opens in new tab) (Caulolatilus princeps) is open year-round, at all depths. The daily bag and possession limit is 10 fish within the general daily bag limit of 20 fish total, with no minimum size limit. Review California sport fishing regulations for further information pertaining to ocean whitefish.

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 (PDF)(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), 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.

Yellowtail

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

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.

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)

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.

Rock Crab

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. Review crab measurement methods (PDF)(opens in new tab) and the current California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet for more rock crab fishing information.

See additional information about rock crab and other species of crab.

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 page.

Clams

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(opens in new tab), 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 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

California Grunion

The recreational fishery for California grunion (opens in new tab) (Leuresthes tenuis) is closed as of April 1 and will reopen on July 1, 2024. For more information, visit the CDFW California Grunion web page.

  Spiny Lobster

The recreational fishery for spiny lobster(opens in new tab) (Panulirus interruptus) is closed as of March 21, 2024, and will reopen on Friday, September 27, 2024 at 6:00 p.m.

Ocean Salmon

The recreational fishery for ocean salmon(opens in new tab) (Onchorynchus spp.) is closed as of October 3, 2022 and will remain closed throughout 2024. More information is available on the CDFW Ocean Salmon Seasons page.

  Giant Sea Bass

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

  Abalone

The recreational fishery for red abalone (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 page.

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.

Point Conception to the U.S.- Mexico Border
Point Conception to the U.S.- Mexico Border
Note: Map shows state and federal marine protected areas.

Additional Resources

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!