california fishing regulations 2017


California Fishing

Fishing is a popular hobby and sport in California, with plenty of opportunities to catch various fish species at both freshwater and saltwater locations across the state. Unfortunately, overfishing and other human activities can threaten the survival of these fish populations and their habitats. Therefore, California enforces various fishing regulations to ensure the sustainable management of fish stocks, protect endangered species, and promote responsible angling practices. In 2017, new regulations were adopted and existing ones were amended to reflect the latest scientific data and stakeholder input. This article provides an overview of the California fishing regulations for 2017, highlighting the main changes that affect recreational and commercial fishermen and women.

Recreational Fishing Regulations

Recreational Fishing

Recreational fishing is defined as fishing for non-commercial purposes, such as catching fish for personal consumption or enjoyment. Recreational fishermen and women must obtain a valid fishing license from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and follow various rules depending on their location, the type of fish they catch, and the gear they use. The 2017 regulations introduce several changes to the recreational fishing rules, including:

1. Size and bag limits: These are the minimum and maximum sizes and amounts of fish that anglers can keep per day or possession. The aim of size limits is to ensure that immature or undersized fish have a chance to grow and reproduce before being caught, while bag limits prevent overharvesting and wasteful practices. The 2017 regulations modify the size and bag limits for several fish species in different regions of California. For example, rockfish (such as blue, black, and vermilion rockfish) caught north of Point Conception now have a minimum size limit of 10 inches and a reduced daily bag limit of three fish per person. Other species, like cabezon and lingcod, have slightly increased size limits and unchanged bag limits.

2. Seasons and closures: These are the periods during which certain fish species are off-limits to fishing to protect them during their spawning or migration seasons, or to give them relief from excessive pressure. The 2017 regulations establish new seasons and closures for some species and areas. For instance, Pacific halibut fishing is open from May 1 to June 15 and from July 1 to November 15, with a three-fish daily bag limit and no minimum size limit. The recreational fishing for coho salmon in the Klamath-Trinity River system is closed for the entire season due to depleted populations.

3. Gear restrictions: These are the limitations on the types and sizes of fishing gear that anglers can use to catch fish. The gear restrictions aim to prevent damage to fish habitats, bycatch of non-target species, and unfair advantages over other fishermen. The 2017 regulations revise the gear restrictions for some species and locations. For example, in certain marine protected areas, anglers can no longer use traps or snares to fish for lobsters, rock crabs, and other crustaceans. In addition, the use of barbless hooks is mandatory when fishing for salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon in some inland waters.

4. Reporting requirements: These are the obligations for recreational fishermen and women to report their catch or release data to the CDFW, usually through an online or paper form. The reporting requirements help the CDFW collect information on the health and abundance of fish populations, assess the effectiveness of the regulations, and detect any illegal or unsustainable fishing activities. The 2017 regulations maintain the reporting requirements for some species, such as steelhead trout and North Coast salmon, and expand them to others, such as cabezon and kelp greenling.

Overall, the recreational fishing regulations for 2017 aim to balance the interests of anglers, conservationists, and scientists by ensuring that fishing remains a sustainable and enjoyable activity for generations to come. Although some of the changes may seem restrictive or confusing at first, they reflect the best available science and the long-term benefit of California’s fishery resources.

Commercial Fishing Regulations

Commercial Fishing

Commercial fishing is defined as fishing for profit or sale, such as catching fish for food, bait, or export. Commercial fishermen and women must obtain various licenses, permits, and quotas from the CDFW and follow stricter rules than recreational anglers in terms of gear, catch limits, and reporting. The 2017 regulations also bring changes to the commercial fishing regulations, including:

1. Quotas and allocations: These are the maximum amounts of fish that each commercial fishery is allowed to catch in a given year or season, based on scientific assessments and management plans. The quotas and allocations aim to prevent overfishing, maintain healthy fish stocks, and allocate the catch among different users and sectors. The 2017 regulations adjust the quotas and allocations for some species and fisheries. For example, the Pacific herring fishery is closed until further notice due to the poor stock condition, while the spiny lobster fishery has a higher total allowable catch (TAC) for the Southern California region, but lower TAC for the Central and Northern regions.

2. Gear restrictions and bycatch reduction measures: These are the limitations on the types and sizes of fishing gear that commercial fishermen and women can use, and the techniques they must follow to minimize the accidental catch of non-target species or damage to ecosystems. The gear restrictions and bycatch reduction measures aim to promote sustainable and responsible fishing practices, reduce waste and discards, and protect threatened or endangered species. The 2017 regulations adopt new gear restrictions and bycatch reduction measures for some fisheries, such as the swordfish drift gillnet fishery, which must use larger mesh nets, acoustic deterrents, and observer coverage to reduce the bycatch of marine mammals and sea turtles.

3. Vessel and safety requirements: These are the standards and procedures that commercial fishing vessels must meet to ensure the safety of their crew, protect the environment, and comply with legal and regulatory requirements. The vessel and safety requirements vary depending on the size, type, and operation of the boat, and may include inspections, certifications, emergency equipment, and training. The 2017 regulations update the vessel and safety requirements for some fisheries, such as the Dungeness crab fishery, which now requires all vessels to carry functional GPS devices, and have safety equipment like flares, life rafts, and EPIRBs.

4. Other regulations: These are the miscellaneous rules and provisions that apply to commercial fishing, such as reporting requirements, monitoring programs, and enforcement measures. The other regulations aim to ensure compliance with the laws, prevent fraud and abuse, and facilitate communication between the industry and the regulators. The 2017 regulations maintain or modify some of the other regulations, such as the mandatory reporting of landed catch for several fisheries, or the expansion of the Market Squid fishery to new locations and seasons.

Overall, the commercial fishing regulations for 2017 aim to foster a prosperous and sustainable fishing industry in California, by balancing the economic, social, and environmental impacts of seafood production and distribution. Although some of the changes may impose additional costs or obligations on the commercial fishing sector, they also offer new opportunities for innovation, collaboration, and stewardship, that can benefit both the fish and the fishermen and women.

Fishing License Requirements

fishing licenses california

Fishing is a favorite pastime for many Californians and visitors alike. With its long coastline, abundant freshwater lakes and streams, and an array of fish species, California offers some of the best fishing opportunities in the United States. However, before you grab your gear and head out to the water, it’s essential to understand the state’s fishing regulations and requirements to avoid any penalties for violating them. A vital part of that is making sure you have the necessary fishing license.

A California fishing license is a legal document that allows individuals to fish in the state’s waters. It is required for all fish species, including non-native ones, such as rainbow trout or striped bass. Anyone over the age of 16 who is fishing for sport or recreation must have a valid fishing license. Additionally, anglers should be aware that different regulations and license requirements apply to freshwater and saltwater fishing.

Freshwater Fishing License Requirements

freshwater fishing

A California freshwater fishing license is required when fishing in inland waters, such as rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. There are different types of freshwater fishing licenses available, depending on the angler’s age, residency status, and the duration of the license. A resident freshwater fishing license costs $51.02 for the whole year, while a non-resident license costs $142.05. Senior citizens (over 65 years) and disabled veterans can get a reduced-fee license by providing the necessary documentation. Short-term licenses are also available, including two-day ($15.12), ten-day ($47.01), and one-day ($16.46) licenses, which are ideal for tourists or occasional anglers.

Anglers can obtain a freshwater fishing license by purchasing it online on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website or visiting a local license agent, such as sporting goods stores, bait and tackle shops, and some park offices. It’s essential to remember that the license must be with you while fishing and shown to a law enforcement officer on request.

Saltwater Fishing License Requirements

saltwater fishing

In California, saltwater fishing licenses are required for fishing in the ocean beyond the three-mile limit or in any bays or estuaries connected to the ocean. It includes fishing for any fish that spends part of its life in the ocean, such as salmon, rockfish, and halibut. There is an additional requirement that anglers must complete a report card for certain species, such as salmon and steelhead, and pay a fee for it.

A normal saltwater fishing license costs $130.42 for a calendar year for non-residents and $52.66 for residents, and a reduced-fee license is available for seniors and disabled veterans. Anglers can purchase a saltwater fishing license at the same places where the freshwater licenses are available. They can also buy the license online on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website.


fishing rod ocean

In conclusion, a fishing license is undoubtedly an essential requirement for any angler in California. Make sure to get the right kind of license before heading out to the water and stay updated about the regulations, catch limits, and closures to avoid any legal troubles. Remember, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife takes fishing regulations and conservation seriously, and we should all do our best to preserve the state’s natural resources while enjoying the sport.

Fishing Limits and Seasons

Fishing Limits and Seasons in California

Fishing is an enjoyable activity that many Californians enjoy year-round. However, there are specific regulations in place to ensure the protection and conservation of fish populations and their habitats. Understanding fishing limits and seasons is crucial to ensure that you are within the law when fishing out in California.

Types of Fishing Limits

Types of Fishing Limits

There are two types of fishing limits in California, namely bag limits and possession limits. Bag limits determine the maximum number of fish that an angler can catch in a single day, regardless of how long they fish. Possession limits, on the other hand, specify the maximum number of fish that an angler can possess at any given time, regardless of when or where they were caught.

Bag limits vary by species, location, and fishing season. In California, the most common bag limit for most sport fish is five fish per day, per angler. However, there are some exceptions. For instance, the bag limit for trout ranges from two to five fish per day, depending on the location, while the limit for salmon is two per day in coastal waters.

When it comes to possession limits, the number of fish allowed can be twice the daily bag limit or more. For example, if the daily bag limit for a specific fish is five, then the possession limit is generally ten or higher. However, there are exceptions, so it’s crucial to check the specific fish you are targeting before heading out to fish.

Fishing Seasons

California Fishing Season

California has different fishing seasons for each species, and some fish are only available during certain times of the year. It’s essential to note that fishing seasons are subject to change depending on the stock of fish. Therefore, it’s important to check the latest information before heading out to fish to ensure that you are within the regulations

For example, during the salmon season, anglers can only fish for salmon in the ocean until mid-October, while salmon fishing in the rivers only opens for a few weeks in late fall. The trout fishing season opens on the last Saturday of April and closes on November 15th, except for some specific waters.

Critical Limits and Catch and Release Regulations

Critical Limits and Catch and Release Regulations

Anglers should also familiarize themselves with critical limits and catch and release regulations. Critical limits refer to the protected fish species that have low numbers with limited or no fishing allowed. These species, such as white sharks and Green Sturgeon, are protected by law to allow their populations to recover.

Catch and release regulations apply to species with low populations, such as sturgeon and some types of trout. Even though these fish are not legally protected, California encourages anglers to release them to ensure their populations remain healthy.


Conclusion California Fishing Regulation 2017

Being knowledgeable about fishing limits and seasons in California is critical to both conserve the fish populations and habitats and avoid penalties for breaking the laws. Reading and understanding regulations should be the first step for every angler before heading out to fish to ensure they are following California’s fishing regulations.

No Fishing Zones

No Fishing Zones

Fishing has always been a popular recreational activity in California with its beautiful coastlines and abundance of fish. However, to ensure the sustainability of marine life and protect vulnerable species, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has implemented designated no fishing zones along the state’s coastline. These areas prohibit recreational and commercial fishing, helping to preserve the delicate balance of the ocean’s ecosystem.

The no fishing zones have been established along the coastlines of California, from the Oregon state line down to Mexico. These areas vary in size, depending on the location and the specific objectives of the regulations. Some of these zones cover a small area around specific locations, while others extend for miles along the coast and include several types of habitats. The designated no fishing zones are usually marked by buoys and signage to inform the public of the restrictions.

One of the primary reasons for these no fishing zones is to protect vulnerable and endangered species of marine life. Many species have undergone severe population declines due to overfishing, habitat destruction, and pollution. The no fishing zones help to ensure that these species have a safe place to breed, feed, and grow. Areas such as kelp forests, rocky reefs, and estuaries are particularly critical habitats for many species and are commonly included in the no fishing zones.

In addition to protecting vulnerable species, no fishing zones also help to improve recreational fishing opportunities. By ensuring sustainable fish populations, these designated areas can provide a healthy environment for fish to grow and reproduce, leading to better fishing opportunities in the future. No fishing zones also offer a unique opportunity for research and scientific study, allowing scientists to better understand marine life and improve conservation management.

California’s designated no fishing zones are part of a broader conservation effort aimed at preserving the state’s natural resources. The state has implemented numerous regulations and laws to protect and conserve marine life, including fishing seasons, catch limits, size restrictions, and gear requirements. These efforts are all underpinned by a desire to protect the ocean’s diversity and ensure that it remains healthy and productive for future generations.

While the no fishing zones might limit some recreational fishing opportunities, they are ultimately designed to ensure the long-term sustainability of California’s marine ecosystems. They provide critical protection for endangered and vulnerable species, improve recreational fishing opportunities, and offer valuable research opportunities. By respecting and following these regulations, we can all contribute to preserving California’s unique natural heritage for generations to come.

Gear and Bait Restrictions

fishing gear and bait

Fishing regulations in California are put in place to protect the fish population and maintain the overall health of the waterways. Restrictions are placed on gear and bait to ensure that fishermen are using equipment that is safe and non-invasive. The following are the gear and bait restrictions for California fishing in 2017.

1. Hooks

fishing hook

In California, fishing hooks must have barbs that can be easily removed. This ensures that if a fish is caught and released, it will not be harmed by the hook. Additionally, fishermen must use hooks that are appropriate for the size of the fish being targeted. Using a hook that is too small or too large can result in injury to the fish.

2. Nets

fishing net

The use of nets for fishing in California is restricted. Generally, fishermen are not allowed to use nets to catch fish, with a few exceptions. Some types of nets, such as dip nets and bait nets, may be used, but only for certain types of fish. These restrictions ensure that the fish population is not overfished.

3. Bait

fishing bait

The use of bait while fishing in California is also limited. Certain types of bait, such as live baitfish, may not be used in certain locations. In some areas, the use of any type of bait except for artificial lures is prohibited. The goal of these restrictions is to prevent the spread of invasive species that may be carried by live bait.

4. Spearfishing


Spearfishing is allowed in California, but it is subject to restrictions. Fishermen must use a speargun that is powered by the fisherman’s own strength, and the fish must be speared in the head or body. In addition, certain types of fish, such as sturgeon, are not allowed to be speared under any circumstances.

5. Reels

fishing reel

When it comes to reels, California fishing regulations allow for both traditional and electric reel use. However, electric reels must be operated manually and cannot be used in an automated mode. Electric reels are mostly used for deep-sea fishing where manual cranking can be a challenge. As per regulation, the reel’s line capacity must not exceed 1200 feet.

In conclusion, the gear and bait restrictions put in place for California fishing are in place for the purpose of conservation. It is important for both sport and commercial fishermen to follow these guidelines in order to ensure that the fish population remains healthy and sustainable for years to come. By respecting these regulations, anglers in California can help to maintain the state’s reputation as a top destination for fishing enthusiasts.

Penalties for Violating Regulations

Fishing Regulations California

California offers some of the best fishing opportunities in the country for both saltwater and freshwater anglers. However, along with these opportunities comes responsibility. California fishing regulations 2017 aim to conserve and protect the state’s fish population by regulating fishing activities. Disregarding these regulations can lead to legal consequences that could potentially ruin a fishing trip.

Violating California fishing regulations can lead to hefty fines, revocation of fishing licenses, and legal charges that could result in imprisonment. The severity of the penalty will depend on the nature of the violation and the discretion of the law enforcement officer who witnesses the offense.

Here are some of the penalties for violating California fishing regulations:

1. Fines

Fines for violating fishing regulations vary depending on the offense committed. In California, fines can range from $100 to $40,000. For example, fishing without a license is subject to a fine of up to $1,000. Fishing for a species during the closed season or possessing undersized fish can result in a fine ranging from $100 to $1,000. Harvesting fish over the daily limits or retaining fish beyond the size limits can result in a fine of up to $500.

2. Confiscation of Fish and Fishing Gear

fishing gear

When a violation is committed, any fish caught or fishing gear being used during the time of the offense can be seized by law enforcement officers. Confiscating fishing gear can be costly, especially if the gear is expensive. This can be an unpleasant surprise for anglers who put their hard-earned money into their fishing equipment.

3. Revocation of Fishing License

fishing license

If an angler commits a serious offense, his or her fishing license can be revoked. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) can revoke or suspend fishing licenses based on the severity and frequency of violations. If a license is revoked, an angler may not be able to fish for the rest of the season or for a specific number of years. The angler may also have problems obtaining a fishing license in other states.

4. Community Service

Community service

Judges can sentence an angler to serve community service hours if he or she is found guilty of violating fishing regulations. Community service can be carried out by cleaning up trash along the riverbanks or streams or helping fish hatcheries or tagging juvenile fish. The number of hours required may vary but typically ranges from 20 to 100 hours.

5. Imprisonment

prison bars

If an angler is found guilty of a serious offense such as poaching or repeat offenses of fishing without a license, he or she may be sentenced to imprisonment. The length of the sentence will depend on the severity of the crime committed. A person found guilty of poaching endangered species can face up to three years in prison.

6. Damage to Reputation and Career


Complying with fishing regulations is not only about fish conservation, it is also about protecting the reputation of anglers. Violating fishing regulations can lead to a damaged reputation and negative publicity. This can affect not only an angler’s reputation but also his or her job prospects. Certain employers may be reluctant to hire a person with a criminal record, which could make it difficult for an angler to find a job in the future.

It is essential for anglers to understand and follow California fishing regulations to avoid potential legal consequences. By doing so, anglers can help sustain the state’s fish populations and ensure that future generations can enjoy fishing in California.

The Importance of Following California Fishing Regulations in 2017

California Fishing Regulations 2017

California’s fishing regulations are designed to protect and conserve the state’s diverse and valuable aquatic resources. By following these regulations in 2017, anglers can help ensure that California’s fish populations remain healthy and enjoyable for generations to come.

One of the main reasons why it is important to adhere to California’s fishing regulations is to help maintain sustainable fishing practices. Sustainable fishing practices involve harvesting fish at a rate that allows populations to replenish themselves naturally. In order to ensure sustainable fishing, California has established bag limits, size limits, and closed seasons for many of its fish species. By following these regulations, anglers can help prevent overfishing and ensure that future generations of anglers have the opportunity to enjoy a diverse and productive fishery.

Fishing regulations also play a critical role in protecting the health and diversity of California’s fish populations. Many fish species are threatened by pollution, habitat loss, and invasive species, so it is important to ensure that these species are not further depleted by overfishing. California’s fishing regulations help protect sensitive species by setting limits on the number of fish that can be taken from the water each day, as well as by establishing minimum size limits to protect juvenile fish populations. These measures help ensure that California’s fish populations remain healthy and diverse, even in the face of environmental pressures.

In addition to protecting the fish populations themselves, California’s fishing regulations also help safeguard the ecosystems in which these fish live. By preventing overfishing of certain predator species, for example, fishing regulations can help maintain the balance of marine ecosystems. Similarly, by preventing the release of invasive species into California’s waters, these regulations can help protect native species and promote biodiversity. By adhering to these regulations, anglers can play an important role in maintaining healthy and resilient aquatic ecosystems.

Finally, following California’s fishing regulations is not just important for the sake of the fish and ecosystems themselves, but also for the enjoyment and safety of anglers. By following size and bag limit regulations, anglers can help ensure that they only take home safe and legal fish that they can use and enjoy. Similarly, by avoiding closed seasons and prohibited areas, anglers can avoid fines and penalties while also protecting key breeding and feeding grounds for fish populations. These regulations are designed to benefit everyone who enjoys California’s diverse and productive fishery, and following them is an important part of responsible angling.

Overall, California’s fishing regulations are designed to promote sustainable and responsible fishing practices while protecting the state’s valuable aquatic resources. By following these regulations in 2017 and beyond, anglers can help ensure that California’s fish populations remain healthy, diverse, and productive for generations to come.

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