California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Groundfish Identification

In order to abide by sport fishing regulations, recreational anglers must be able to identify their catch. However, differentiating between certain groundfish species, particularly rockfishes, can be difficult. The following guides will provide some basic tips on how to identify several species of finfish. When used in conjunction with the Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet, anglers will be better able to observe the laws that are in place to conserve and rebuild California's living marine resources.

Photograph provided by Patrick Kuhl

California Rockfishes and Associated Species

rockfish poster
With more than 60 species of rockfishes found along the California coast, identifying catch can be difficult for novice anglers, experienced anglers, and charterboat crewmembers alike. With current ocean sportfishing regulations putting sublimits on some species and requiring anglers to release others, the ability to correctly identify catch has become even more important.

Recognizing the need for a guide to help passengers and crewmembers properly identify rockfish, the Fishery Enhancement and Research Foundation (FERF) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife are proud to present California Rockfishes and Associated Species.

rockfish poster
California Rockfishes and Associated Species is a full-color guide developed by the Fishery Enhancement and Research Foundation, in collaboration with Edgar Roberts of CDFW. This guide features high quality color photos of sport-caught fish fresh out of the water, maps showing the range of each species within California, maximum age, length and maturity information, as well as key anatomical features used to identify each fish.

Free copies of the guide were being mailed to all permitted sport fishing boats in the state, so look for it posted in the galley or cabin window of your favorite 1/2 day or 3/4 day sport boat the next time you're out. To order copies of the poster, visit www.rockfishid.com.

rockfish poster

Photograph provided by Patrick Kuhl

Photograph provided by Blake Hawes