California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Current California Ocean Recreational Fishing Regulations

Central Management Area: 37°11 N. Latitude (Pigeon Point in San Mateo County) to 34°27 N. Latitude (Point Conception, Santa Barbara County)

(Includes a portion of San Mateo County, all of Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Luis Obispo counties, and a portion of Santa Barbara County)

This summary of current regulations was updated on July 23, 2014.

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

 

Shore-based anglers are fishermen that fish from beaches, banks, piers, jetties, breakwaters, docks and other manmade objects connected to the shore.

Divers are spear fishermen entering the water either from the shore or from a boat or other floating object.

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.

Important Information

  • Marine protected areas (MPAs) may restrict or prohibit sport fishing. MPA regulations, maps, and coordinates are available on the California MPA web page, in the current Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet, and at your local CDFW office. Information about California MPAs is also available on the CDFW MPA mobile website.
  • The recreational fisheries for lingcod, rockfish, sub-groups of rockfish, California scorpionfish, cabezon, kelp and rock greenlings, California sheephead, ocean whitefish and other federal groundfish may close early if the annual harvest guideline for any one specie or species group is met or is expected to be met prior to the end of the year.
  • Check this website, call the Recreational Groundfish Fishing Regulations Hotline at (831) 649-2801, send an e-mail to AskMarine@wildlife.ca.gov, or call the nearest CDFW office for the latest information (Note: Your questions sent to AskMarine@wildlife.ca.gov, and CDFW's response, may be posted on the Internet or published in periodicals to help others with similar questions. If you do not wish your question to be used in this manner, please indicate this in your email).

Adobe Reader All files linked from this page require Adobe Reader.

What's Open:

Rockfish

The recreational fishery for rockfish (Sebastes sp.) is open year-round to divers2 and shore-based anglers. The fishery is open to boat-based anglers from May 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014 (see important NOTE at the end of this section). These species may only be taken or possessed3 in waters less than 240 feet (40 fathoms) deep. 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 bocaccio (3 per person, also included in the 10 fish RCG Complex aggregate limit). Yelloweye rockfish, canary rockfish, bronzespotted rockfish, and cowcod may not be retained (bag limit: zero).

View a summary of groundfish regulations.

Cabezon

The recreational fishery for cabezon (Scorpaenichthys marmoratus) is open year-round to divers2 and shore-based anglers. The fishery is open to boat-based anglers from May 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014 (see important NOTE at the end of this section). Cabezon may only be taken or possessed3 in waters less than 240 feet (40 fathoms) deep. 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.

View a summary of groundfish regulations.

Kelp Greenling and Rock Greenling

The recreational fishery for kelp and rock greenlings (Hexagrammos spp.) is open year-round to divers2 and shore-based anglers. These fisheries are open to boat-based anglers from May 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014 (see important NOTE at the end of this section). Greenlings may only be taken or possessed3 in waters less than 240 feet (40 fathoms) deep. 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.

View a summary of groundfish regulations.

Lingcod

The recreational fishery for lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) is open year-round to divers2 and shore-based anglers. The fishery is open to boat-based anglers from May 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014 (see important NOTE at the end of this section). Lingcod may only be taken or possessed3 in waters less than 240 feet (40 fathoms) deep. The daily bag and possession limit is 2 fish, with a minimum size limit of 22 inches total length.

View a summary of groundfish regulations.

California Sheephead

The recreational fishery for California sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher) is open year-round to divers2 and shore-based anglers. The fishery is open to boat-based anglers from May 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014 (see important NOTE at the end of this section). California sheephead may only be taken or possessed3 in waters less than 240 feet (40 fathoms) deep. The daily bag and possession limit is 5 fish with a minimum size limit of 12 inches total length.

View a summary of groundfish regulations.

California Scorpionfish (a.k.a. sculpin)

The recreational fishery for California scorpionfish (Scorpaena guttata) is open year-round to divers2 and shore-based anglers. The fishery is open to boat-based anglers from May 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014 (see important NOTE at the end of this section). California scorpionfish may only be taken or possessed3 in waters less than 240 feet (40 fathoms) deep. The daily bag and possession limit is 5 fish with a minimum size limit of 10 inches total length.

View a summary of groundfish regulations.

Ocean Whitefish

The recreational fishery for ocean whitefish (Caulolatilus princeps) is open year-round to divers2 and shore-based anglers. The fishery is open to boat-based anglers from May 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014 (see important NOTE at the end of this section). Ocean whitefish may only be taken or possessed3 in waters less than 240 feet (40 fathoms) deep. The daily bag and possession limit is 10 fish with no minimum size limit.

View a summary of groundfish regulations.

Leopard Shark

The recreational fishery for leopard shark (Triakis semifasciata) outside of Elkhorn Slough is open year-round to divers2 and shore-based anglers. Outside of Elkhorn Slough, the fishery is open to boat-based anglers from May 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014 (see important NOTE at the end of this section). Within Elkhorn Slough State Marine Conservation Area fishing with hook-and-line is open to boat-based anglers and shore-based anglers year-round. Leopard sharks may only be taken or possessed3 in waters less than 240 feet (40 fathoms) deep. The daily bag and possession limit is 3 fish with a minimum size limit of 36 inches total length.

NOTE: Elkhorn Slough State Marine Conservation Area allows fishing for finfish with hook-and-line in waters east of the Highway 1 Bridge and west of longitude 121° 46.40’ W. Much of Elkhorn Slough is now a State Marine Reserve where fishing is prohibited. Please refer to the Online Guide to the Central California MPAs or other online maps and coordinates for more information.

View a summary of groundfish regulations.

Soupfin Shark and Spiny Dogfish

The recreational fisheries for soupfin shark (Galeorhinus zyopterus) and spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) are open to divers2 and shore-based anglers year-round. These fisheries are open to boat-based anglers from May 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014 (see important NOTE at the end of this section). These species may only be taken or possessed3 in waters less than 240 feet (40 fathoms) deep. The 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.

View a summary of groundfish regulations.

All Other Federally Managed Groundfish and Associated State-Managed Species1

The recreational fisheries for all other federally managed groundfish and associated state-managed species1 are open to divers2 and shore-based anglers year-round. These fisheries are open to boat-based anglers from May 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014 (see important NOTE at the end of this section). These species may only be taken or possessed3 in waters less than 240 feet (40 fathoms) deep. Refer to the California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations for size limits, bag limits and other regulations pertaining to these species.

View a summary of groundfish regulations.

Ocean Salmon

The recreational fishery for ocean salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) is open from April 5 through October 5, 2014. 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 2014 Ocean Salmon Sport Regulations flyer and 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 all year, except that white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) may not be taken or possessed at any time. The bag limits for sixgill shark (Hexanchus griseus) and sevengill shark (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 divers2 for the following species: Pacific sanddab (Citharichthys sordidus), butter sole (Isopsetta isolepis), curlfin sole (Pleuronichthys decurrens), flathead sole (Hippoglossoides elassodon), rex sole (Glyptocephalus zachirus), rock sole (Lepidopsetta bilineata), and sand sole (Psettichthys melanostictus). Refer to the California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations for size limits, bag limits and other regulations pertaining to these species.

View a summary of groundfish regulations.

Pacific Halibut

The recreational fishery for Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) is open from May 1, 2014 through July 31, 2014, and from September 1, 2014 through October 31, 2014 (closed for the month of August). The daily bag and possession limit is one fish, with no minimum size limit. For more information about the regulation change that initiated the August closure, please read the press release.

California Halibut

The recreational fishery for California halibut (Paralichthys californicus) remains open year round. The daily bag and possession limit is three fish north of Point Sur, Monterey County, and 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 10 ½ inches total length.

Identification Guide: Common Surfperches of California

Sturgeon

The recreational fishery for white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) remains open all year. The daily bag and possession limit is one fish that must be between 40 inches and 60 inches fork length. The annual limit is three (3) sturgeon per person. 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 landing 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 Section 27.90, Title 14 California Code of Regulations.

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.

See this flyer or the Ocean and/or Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet for complete information on new sturgeon fishing regulations effective January 1, 2013.

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.The quarantine is usually in effect from May through October, and applies only to sport-harvested mussels intended for human consumption. For updated information on quarantines and naturally-occurring shellfish toxins, call the California Department of Public Health's Shellfish Bio-toxin Information Line at (510) 412-4643 or toll-free at (800) 553-4133.

Other Species

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

NOTE - CDFW may modify the seasons, depth constraints, bag limits or size limits for any species of federally-managed groundfish, California sheephead, ocean whitefish and greenlings of the genus Hexagrammos. Check this website regularly or call the Recreational Groundfish Fishing Regulations Hotline ((831) 649-2801) for the latest information.

 

What's Closed:

Dungeness Crab

The recreational fishery for Dungeness crab (Cancer magister) is closed south of the Sonoma-Mendocino county line, and will reopen on November 1, 2014. See the California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet for complete Dungeness crab fishing regulations.

Abalone

The recreational fishery for abalone (Haliotis sp.) is closed year-round south of the mouth of San Francisco Bay.

 

Some marine protected areas restrict or prohibit sport fishing. Please visit the MPA website for more information.

For complete regulation information, see the California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations.

 

1 Associated state managed species include cabezon, greenlings, California sheephead and ocean whitefish.

2 Except for spearfishing gear, all other types of fishing gear are prohibited to be aboard a vessel or non-motorized watercraft while spearfishing for the purpose of retaining federal groundfish and associated state managed species during a seasonal closure affecting boat-based anglers.

3 These species may be possessed aboard vessels that are transiting deeper waters only when all fishing gear is stowed.