Current California Ocean Recreational Fishing Regulations Leave a comment

  Rockfish

The recreational fishery for rockfish (Sebastes species) is open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers.This fishery is open to boat-based anglers from March 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Take of these species is prohibited seaward of the 75 fathom depth contour (450 feet), as defined in federal regulations (50 CFR Part 660, Subpart C). The daily bag and possession limit is 10 fish in combination of all species within the RCG Complex (includes all species of Rockfish, Cabezon and Greenlings) per person, with a sub-limit on black rockfish (4 per person) and canary rockfish (3 per person), also included in the 10-fish RCG Complex aggregate limit. Yelloweye rockfish, bronzespotted rockfish, and cowcod may not be retained (bag limit: zero). 

Rockfish 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.

  Cabezon

The recreational fishery for cabezon (Scorpaenichthys marmoratus) is open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. This fishery is open to boat-based anglers from March 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Take of cabezon is prohibited seaward of the 75 fathom depth contour (450 feet), as defined in federal regulations (50 CFR Part 660, Subpart C). The daily bag and possession limit is 3 fish within the 10-fish RCG Complex aggregate limit (includes all species of Rockfish, Cabezon and Greenlings), with a minimum size limit of 15 inches total length.

The cabezon fishery is managed under both state and federal groundfish management plans. The state manages this fishery in concert with the federally managed groundfish group, 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.

  Kelp and Rock Greenlings

The recreational fisheries for rock greenling and kelp greenling (Hexagrammos spp.) are open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. These fisheries are open to boat-based anglers from March 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Take of greenlings is prohibited seaward of the 75 fathom depth contour (450 feet), as defined in federal regulations (50 CFR Part 660, Subpart C). The daily bag and possession limit is 10 fish within the 10-fish RCG Complex aggregate limit (includes all species of Rockfish, Cabezon and Greenlings), with a minimum size limit of 12 inches total length.

The kelp greenling fishery is managed under both state and federal groundfish management plans, while the rock greenling fishery is managed under California’s Nearshore Fishery Management Plan. Although not a federally managed groundfish species, rock greenlings are often encountered by fishermen targeting federally managed groundfish. Thus, the rock greenling fishery is managed in concert with the federally managed groundfish group, 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.

  Lingcod

The recreational fishery for lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) is open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. This fishery is open to boat-based anglers from March 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Take of lingcod is prohibited seaward of the 75 fathom depth contour (450 feet), as defined in federal regulations (50 CFR Part 660, Subpart C). The daily bag and possession limit is 2 fish, with a minimum size limit of 22 inches total length.

The lingcod 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.

  California Scorpionfish (a.k.a. sculpin)

The recreational fishery for California scorpionfish (Scorpaena guttata) is open year-round to all anglers and divers. Take of California scorpionfish is prohibited seaward of the 75 fathom depth contour (450 feet), as defined in federal regulations (50 CFR Part 660, Subpart C). 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.

The recreational fishery for California sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher) is open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. This fishery is open to boat-based anglers from March 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Take of California sheephead is prohibited seaward of the 75 fathom depth contour (450 feet), as defined in federal regulations (50 CFR Part 660, Subpart C). The daily bag and possession limit is 5 fish, with a minimum size limit of 12 inches total length.

The California sheephead fishery is managed under California’s Nearshore Fishery Management Plan. Although not a federally managed groundfish species, California sheephead is often encountered by fishermen targeting federally managed groundfish. Thus, California sheephead is managed in concert with the federally managed groundfish group, 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.

  Ocean Whitefish

The recreational fishery for ocean whitefish (PDF) (Caulolatilus princeps) is open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. This fishery is open to boat-based anglers from March 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Take of ocean whitefish is prohibited seaward of the 75 fathom depth contour (450 feet), as defined in federal regulations (50 CFR Part 660, Subpart C). The daily bag and possession limit is 10 fish, with no minimum size limit. 

The ocean whitefish fishery is managed by the state of California. Although not a federally managed groundfish species, ocean whitefish are often encountered by fishermen targeting federally managed groundfish. Thus, the ocean whitefish fishery is managed in concert with the federally managed groundfish group, 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.

  Leopard Shark

The recreational fishery for leopard shark (Triakis semifasciata) is open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. This fishery inside San Diego Bay, Mission Bay, Newport Bay and Alamitos Bay is open year-round to boat-based anglers.Outside of the above-mentioned embayments, this fishery is open to boat-based anglers from March 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Take of leopard shark is prohibited seaward of the 75 fathom depth contour (450 feet), as defined in federal regulations (50 CFR Part 660, Subpart C). Note that leopard shark may not be taken in the Cowcod Conservation Areas. 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.

  Soupfin Shark and Spiny Dogfish

The recreational fisheries for soupfin shark (PDF) (Galeorhinus zyopterus) and spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) are open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. These fisheries are open to boat-based anglers from March 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Take of these species is prohibited seaward of the 75 fathom depth contour (450 feet), as defined in federal regulations (50 CFR Part 660, Subpart C). The daily bag and possession limit for soupfin shark is one fish with no minimum size limit. The daily bag and possession limit for spiny dogfish is 10 fish within the 20-fish general bag limit, and there is no minimum size limit.

Soupfin shark and spiny dogfish 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 are open year-round to divers and shore-based anglers. These fisheries are open to boat-based anglers from March 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Take of these species is prohibited seaward of the 75 fathom depth contour (450 feet), as defined in federal regulations (50 CFR Part 660, Subpart C). Refer to the California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet 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.

  Ocean Salmon

The recreational fishery for ocean salmon (PDF) is open from May 1, 2020 through October 4, 2020. The daily bag and possession limit is 2 salmon of any species except coho, with a minimum size limit of 24 inches total length. No more than two daily bag limits may be in possession when on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit.

For important information on gear restrictions and other ocean salmon sport fishing regulations, see the 2020 Ocean Salmon Sport Regulations flyer (PDF) and the current California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet. You may also call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429 for ocean salmon sport fishing information.

For more information about the ocean salmon fishery, please visit the California Ocean Salmon Seasons web page.

  Sharks (State-managed)

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

  Pacific Sanddab and Other Flatfish

The recreational fishery is open year-round to all anglers and divers for the following species: Pacific sanddab (Citharichthys sordidus), butter sole (Isopsetta isolepis), curlfin sole (Pleuronichthys decurrens), flathead sole (Hippoglossoides elassodon), rex sole (PDF)  (Glyptocephalus zachirus), rock sole (Lepidopsetta bilineata), and sand sole (Psettichthys melanostictus). Refer to the California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet 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 (Platichthys stellatus) are open year-round to all anglers and divers. There are no depth restrictions or bag limits for petrale sole or starry flounder. Refer to the California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet for complete sport fishing regulations 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.

  Kelp Bass, Barred Sand Bass, Spotted Sand Bass

The fisheries for kelp bass, barred sand bass, and spotted sand bass (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. 

  California Halibut

The recreational fishery for California halibut (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. 

  White Seabass

The recreational fishery for white seabass (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. 

  Surfperch

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

Identification Guide: Common Surfperches of California (PDF)

  California Grunion

The recreational fishery for California grunion (Leuresthes tenuis) is open from June 1, 2019 through March 31, 2020. Grunion may only be taken by hand, and no holes may be dug in the beach to entrap them. Information about grunion, including a grunion run schedule, can be found on The Amazing Grunion web page.

  Tunas

The recreational fishery for tunas is open year-round. Refer to the California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet for bag limits, possession limits, fillet procedures on vessels, and other regulations pertaining to these species.

  Yellowtail

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

  Pacific Herring

The recreational fishery for Pacific herring (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 rock crab (Cancer antennarius), yellow crab (Cancer anthonyi) and red crab (Cancer productus) 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) 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 (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 to prevent human cases of paralytic shellfish poisoning and domoic acid 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 the California Department of Public Health’s Shellfish Biotoxin Information Line at (510) 412-4643 or toll-free at (800) 553-4133. You can also review CDFW’s Finfish and Shellfish Health Advisories web page.

  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 eel grass, surf grass, or sea palm may be cut or disturbed at any time.

  Other Species

See the California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet for complete regulations, including regulations for species not covered here.

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