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Unlawful Acts

Fishing Regulations California Freshwater Fishing

It is unlawful to do the following

  • Fish without a valid fishing license if you are 16 years of age or older (FGC 7145);
  • Fail to return a report card by the deadline printed on the report card. Reporting harvest online at www.wildlife.ca.gov satisfies the return requirement (CCR T-14, Section 1.74);
  • Take or possess fish taken illegally (FGC 2000 and 2002);
  • Transfer licenses, tags, validations, permits, applications or reservations to another person (FGC 1052);
  • Use or possess any license, tag, validation, permit, application or reservation not lawfully issued to the user (FGC 1052);
  • Alter, mutilate, deface, duplicate or counterfeit any license, tag, validation, permit, application or reservation (FGC 1052);
  • Fish without the required report card on a free-fishing day (CCR T-14 Section 1.74);
  • Sell fish taken with a sport fishing license (FGC 7121);
  • Cause the deterioration or waste of any fish taken in the waters of this state (CCR T-14 Section 1.87);
  • Use explosives in state waters inhabited by fish (FGC 5500);
  • Use or possess any net in state waters except as is authorized (FGC 8603);
  • Disturb legal traps set by another person (FGC 9002);
  • Litter into or within 150 feet of state waters (FGC 5652);
  • Possess fish where the size or species cannot be determined (FGC 5508 and 5509);
  • Fail to exhibit on demand all licenses, tags, validations, permits, applications or reservation to any peace officer or authorized CDFW employee (FGC 2012);
  • Fail to exhibit, on demand, all fish, mollusks, crustaceans, amphibians and reptiles and any device or apparatus capable of being used to take them, to any peace officer or authorized CDFW employee (FGC 2012); or
  • Prohibit a warden from inspection of any boat, market or receptacle where fish may be found (FGC 1006).

Californians Turn in Poachers & Polluters

If you see someone poaching or polluting, immediately call CalTIP at our toll-free number, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You don’t have to give us your name. Help Fish and Wildlife stop the senseless waste of our fish & wildlife resource. Together we can make a difference!

1 (888) 334-CALTIP (2258)

Attention Anglers!

Catch and Release Zero Limit Waters

In waters where the bag limit for trout is zero, fish for which the bag limit is zero must be released unharmed, and should not be removed from the water.

Angling Regulations in National Parks

Angling regulations in national parks may be more restrictive than State regulations. Anglers should check with the National Park Service to determine if seasons or bag limits differ from State regulations.

Coho Alert

Coho (silver) salmon may not be taken in any of the waters of the state, except in Lake Oroville, the Oroville-Thermalito Complex (Diversion Pool, Forebay, and Afterbay) and the Feather River from the Diversion Pool Dam to the Fish Barrier Dam. Incidentally hooked coho (silver) salmon, from all other waters must be immediately released unharmed to the waters where they are hooked.

Steelhead Anglers!

All wild steelhead caught must be released unharmed. Wild steelhead are identified by having an intact adipose fin.

Hatchery steelhead may be kept in selected waters. Hatchery steelhead are identified by a missing adipose fin and a healed scar in the location of the missing fin.

Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact

The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (IWVC) is an agreement between 26 states, which allows for the reciprocal recognition of hunting, fishing and trapping license suspensions. If your license privileges have been suspended by another state, the suspension may be recognized here in California. For example, if your sport fishing, hunting or trapping privileges have been suspended in Colorado for five years, your privileges may also be suspended for five years in California or any of the states participating in the IWVC.

The purchase of licenses or tags during the term of the suspension is a violation of the law and may result in prosecution. Licenses or tags purchased prior to or during a suspension are not refundable.

For further information contact the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Law Enforcement Division at 1416 Ninth Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, or (916) 653-4094.