California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Current California Ocean Recreational Fishing Regulations

Southern Management Area: 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 October 6, 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).

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What's Open:

Rockfish

The recreational fishery for rockfish (Sebastes sp.) is open to divers2 and shore-based anglers year-round. The fishery is open to boat-based anglers from March 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 300 feet (50 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 to divers2 and shore-based anglers year-round. The fishery is open to boat-based anglers from March 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 300 feet (50 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.

California Sheephead

The recreational fishery for California sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher) is open to divers2 and shore-based anglers year-round. The fishery is open to boat-based anglers from March 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 300 feet (50 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.

Ocean Whitefish

The recreational fishery for ocean whitefish (Caulolatilus princeps) is open to divers2 and shore-based anglers year-round. The fishery is open to boat-based anglers from March 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 300 feet (50 fathoms) deep. The daily bag and possession limit is 10 fish with no minimum size limit.

View a summary of groundfish regulations.

Kelp Greenling and Rock Greenling

The recreational fishery for kelp and rock greenlings (Hexagrammos spp.) is open to divers2 and shore-based anglers year-round. The fishery is open to boat-based anglers from March 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 300 feet (50 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 March 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 300 feet (50 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.

Leopard Shark

The recreational fishery for leopard shark (Triakis semifasciata) is open year-round to shore-based anglers and divers2. The 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, the fishery is open to boat-based anglers from March 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014 (see important NOTE at the end of this section). Leopard sharks may only be taken or possessed3 in waters less than 300 feet (50 fathoms) deep (except in the Cowcod Conservation Areas - see below). The daily bag and possession limit is 3 fish with a minimum size limit of 36 inches total length.

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 March 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 300 feet (50 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 March 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 300 feet (50 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.

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.

California Scorpionfish (a.k.a. sculpin)

The recreational fishery for California scorpionfish (Scorpaena guttata) is open year-round for all anglers and divers2. This species may only be taken or possessed3 in waters less than 300 feet (50 fathoms) deep (except in the Cowcod Conservation Areas - see below). 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.

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.

Kelp Bass, Barred Sand Bass, Spotted Sand Bass

The fishery 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 Grunion

The recreational fishery for California grunion (Leuresthes tenuis) is open from June 1, 2014 through March 31, 2015. 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.

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 10 ½ inches total length.

Identification Guide: Common Surfperches of California

Spiny Lobster

The recreational fishery for spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus) is open from September 27, 2014 through March 18, 2015. The daily bag limit is seven lobster. The minimum size limit is three and one-fourth inches measured along the midline of the upper body from the rear edge of the eye socket (between the horns) to the rear edge of the carapace (body shell).

All individuals, including persons under the age of 16, must have a Spiny Lobster Report Card in their immediate possession while taking or attempting to take spiny lobster. Regulations require that prior to beginning lobster fishing, the cardholder must record the month, day, location and gear code on the first available line on the report card. When the cardholder moves to another location, switches gear, or finishes fishing for the day, he or she must immediately record on the card the number of lobster kept for that location using a particular gear type. New lines on the card must be used when changing locations, days, or gear types.

No more than five hoop nets may be possessed by one person when taking spiny lobster. No more than 10 hoop nets may be possessed per vessel when taking spiny lobster. Hoop netters are required to raise the hoop net to the surface and inspect the contents of the hoop net at least every 2 hours. See Section 29.80, 29.90, and 29.91 in the 2014-2015 California Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet for complete regulations pertaining to California spiny lobster.

For more information about spiny lobster, please see the Spiny Lobster FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) and California Spiny Lobster: fishing and life history information.

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

There are no depth restrictions on the take of other species, including California halibut, sanddabs, yellowtail, tunas, kelp bass, barred and spotted sand bass, California corbina, striped bass, monkeyface eel, and California barracuda. See the California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations for the 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:

Ocean Salmon

The recreational fishery for ocean salmon is closed from Pigeon Point to the U.S.-Mexico border as of October 6, 2014 for the remainder of the year. The 2015 season for ocean waters will be decided in April 2015 by the Pacific Fishery Management Council and the California Fish and Game Commission.

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

Giant Sea Bass (a.k.a. black sea bass)

The recreational fishery for giant sea bass (Stereolepis gigas) is closed year-round to boat-based anglers, divers2 and shore-based anglers in all waters and at all depths.

Dungeness Crab

The recreational fishery for Dungeness crab (Cancer magister) is closed, 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.

 

Cowcod Conservation Areas

The Cowcod Conservation Areas (CCAs) are special groundfish management areas where sport fishing regulations for these species are designed to minimize interaction with cowcod. Groundfish and associated species may not be taken or possessed at any time within the CCAs except as stated below.

Within the CCAs, the following regulations apply:

January and February - closed to all groundfish fishing, except that California scorpionfish may be taken or possessed3 in waters shallower than 20 fathoms (120 feet) in depth.

March through December - closed to all groundfish fishing, except that nearshore rockfishes4, shelf rockfishes5, lingcod, cabezon, greenlings, California sheephead, ocean whitefish and California scorpionfish may be taken or possessed3 in waters shallower than 20 fathoms (120 feet) in depth. Take and possession of bronzespotted rockfish, canary rockfish, cowcod rockfish, and yelloweye rockfish is prohibited.

Exception - Pacific sanddab and other flatfish3 may be taken or possessed in all depths year-round.

Note that minimum size limits, daily bag and possession limits, gear restrictions, fillet requirements, and all other regulations remain in effect within the CCAs.

There are no special restrictions on fishing for other species within the CCAs.

View a summary of groundfish 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 fish may be possessed in closed waters only aboard vessels in transit with no fishing gear in the water.

4 Nearshore rockfish as defined in Section 1.91(a)(1) includes the following species: black rockfish (Sebastes melanops), black-and-yellow rockfish (S. chrysomelas), blue rockfish (S. mystinus), brown rockfish (S. auriculatus), calico rockfish (S. dalli), China rockfish (S. nebulosus), copper rockfish (S. caurinus), gopher rockfish (S. carnatus), grass rockfish (S. rastrelliger), kelp rockfish (S. atrovirens), olive rockfish (S. serranoides), quillback rockfish (S. maliger) and treefish (S. serriceps).

5 Shelf rockfish as described in subsection 1.91(a)(3) means bocaccio, chilipepper rockfish, dusky rockfish, flag rockfish, greenblotched rockfish, greenspotted rockfish, greenstriped rockfish, harlequin rockfish, honeycomb rockfish, Mexican rockfish, pink rockfish, redstripe rockfish, rosethorn rockfish, rosy rockfish, shortbelly rockfish, silvergray rockfish, speckled rockfish, squarespot rockfish, starry rockfish, stripetail rockfish, tiger rockfish, vermilion rockfish, widow rockfish, and yellowtail rockfish.