Inland Sportfish Regulations Simplification FAQ

Attention Anglers! In October 2020, the Fish and Game Commission adopted the largest regulatory inland sport fishing package in their 150-year history. The new regulations took effect March 1, 2021. See responses below to some common questions about these exciting changes!

Why did CDFW change the sport fishing regulations?

These changes stemmed from a CDFW effort to address anglers’ concerns about the complexity of the inland sport fishing regulations by simplifying and streamlining them, and better aligning them with CDFW’s current fisheries management goals and objectives. The underlining goal was to make it easier for anglers to understand the regulations while maintaining and protecting the fisheries.

How have the regulations been simplified?

The regulations have been simplified in three main ways.

  • The special fishing regulations for inland trout (non-anadromous waters) are separated from regulations for hatchery trout, hatchery steelhead and salmon (anadromous waters) to make it easier to understand the bag and possession limits. The special fishing regulations for trout remain in Section 7.50 and will be included in the Freshwater Sport Fishing regulations booklet effective March 2021. The special fishing regulations for hatchery trout, hatchery steelhead and salmon are moved to Section 7.40, and will be included in the Supplemental Sport Fishing regulations booklet effective June 2021.
  • The District regulations, which formerly followed political boundaries, have been consolidated into consistent statewide regulations in a watershed-based approach similar to the Special Regulations.
  • The Special Fishing Regulations were standardized and consolidated through application of a suite of regulations based on fisheries management goals, including angling seasons (closures), bag and possession limits, size limits, and gear restrictions.

How will I know if the regulations are changing for my favorite fishing location(s)?

Anglers can view and download regulations for all inland water bodies in the 2021-2022 Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations Booklet, which can be viewed and downloaded on this page, or at Inland trout (non-anadromous) waters will remain in Section 7.50, while regulations for waters supporting hatchery trout, hatchery steelhead, and salmon (anadromous waters) have moved to a new Section 7.40.

How was the public notified that these changes were coming?

CDFW held a series of community meetings in 2018 and 2019 at locations across the state to publicly introduce and discuss proposed changes to simplify statewide inland sport fishing regulations. CDFW proposals and recommendations from the public were then vetted at the January and March 2020 Wildlife Resources Committee meetings through the Fish and Game Commission and associated stakeholders. The rulemaking process (July – October 2020) provided additional opportunity for public comment.

What if I want to suggest changes to the new regulations?

Where can I get a complete copy of the regulations?

Printed fishing and hunting regulations booklets and the Big Game Hunting Digest have been phased-out over the past two years and CDFW will no longer print and ship hard copies to license agents or customers. Digital booklets will continue to be available for viewing and downloading on the CDFW Regulations page.

Why won’t hard copies of the sport fishing booklets be available anymore?

As part of a broader effort to go paperless, CDFW is transitioning to a digital format for all 2021 hunting and fishing regulations booklets and the Big Game Hunting Digest. The cost to print and ship the booklets is significant, and the money saved by going paperless will be redirected to fish and wildlife conservation.

regs-icon freshwater

Freshwater Sport Fishing

Regulations for taking fish, amphibians and reptiles

  • freshwaher sport fishing regulations booklet cover - open PDF in new tab
    2024 Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations Booklet (PDF)(opens in new tab)
    Compiled January 1, 2024
    includes amendments to sections 5.79, 5.80 for white sturgeon, and subsections (b)(27) and (b)(79) of Section 7.40 and subsections (b)(7) and (b)(81) of Section 7.50 in Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 14, CCR
  • View nearby regulations on your smart phone or desktop:
    Freshwater Regulations Map(opens in new tab)
  • 2023-2024 Supplemental Sportfishing Regulations Booklet (PDF)(opens in new tab)
    Complied July 15, 2023; see section headers for specific regulations effective dates