⚠ Before you head to the water check the latest COVID-19 updates. We encourage you to follow CDC recommendations.
Where to Find California Fishing Regulations
Since you’ll want to familiarize yourself with applicable regulations for recreational anglers before you head out to fish, the easiest place to find them is the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Not only are they easily accessible on the website but, since regulations are adaptive, the site also has the latest updates so you’ll always find the most current information along with any supplements that reflect changes since the publication of the annual regulations.
Depending on where you plan to fish, you may also need to review any regulations governing the specific area. For example, if you’re planning to go ocean sport fishing in San Diego, you’d want to review the southern California saltwater fishing regulations for Point Conception to the Mexico boarder that are on the CDFW site under California ocean fishing regulations.
Similarly, if you’re planning to go ocean sport fishing in Crescent City or Eureka, you’ll want to look at the northern California saltwater fishing regulations for the area that are broken down by county.
Key Topics When Planning Your Next Outing
While the regulations are comprehensive and, therefore, lengthy, you may find that not all of the content applies to you based on where you plan to fish and what species you’re after. But there are key topics that you’ll want to review no matter what you’ve got planned.
- Licenses: The California Fishing Regulations will explain who has to purchase a license and the best places to obtain one as well as how to get and submit report cards.
- Minimum and Maximum Size: California fishing size regulations are some of the most important to be aware of. The regulations not only include the specifications for what’s a legal size by species but also share measurement methods.
- Fishing Season: The regulations will tell you when the seasons are open, partially closed or closed for your target species.
- Daily Bag Limits: The California Saltwater Fishing Regulations contain details on the number of a particular species that can be taken and possessed.
- Prohibited Species: Taking and possession of some species is not allowed at all so you’ll want to review the prohibited saltwater species to make sure you’re not in violation of California Fishing Regulations.
- Gear Restrictions: The regulations include allowable methods for taking fish, including prohibited gear for certain species.
You’ll also find some other useful information in the regulations such as the state’s free fishing days when no license is required.
Risks of Noncompliance
While the main point of the regulations is to educate anglers on proper fishing practices in order to preserve the sport for generations to come, it’s important to remember that the regulations are strictly enforced. The CDFW publishes a fish and game penalty schedule that lists the fines and any surcharges for violation any of the California Fishing Regulations. For example, the base fine for taking or possessing a fully protected fish is $500 while the unlawful sale or purchase of fish rises to $2,000.