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Invertebrate Fishing Regulations

Saltwater Marine Fishing Regulations California Saltwater Fishing

29.05. General.

(a) Except as provided in this article there are no closed seasons, closed hours or minimum size limits for any invertebrate. The bag limit on all invertebrates for which the take is authorized and for which there is not a bag limit otherwise established in this article is 35. In San Francisco and San Pablo bays and saltwater tributaries east of the Golden Gate Bridge invertebrates may not be taken at night except from the shore.

(b) Take of all invertebrates is prohibited within state marine reserves. Take of certain invertebrates may be prohibited within state marine parks and state marine conservation areas as per sub-section 632(b). In addition, tidal invertebrates may not be taken in any tidepool or other areas between the high tide mark (defined as Mean Higher High Tide) and 1,000 feet seaward and lateral to the low tide mark (defined as Mean Lower Low Water) except as follows:

(1) Except where prohibited within state marine reserves, state marine parks, state marine conservation areas, or other special closures only the following may be taken: red abalone, limpets, moon snails, turban snails, chiones, clams, cockles, mussels, rock scallops, native oysters, octopuses, squid, crabs, lobsters, shrimp, sand dollars, sea urchins and worms except that no worms may be taken in any mussel bed, unless taken incidental to the harvesting of mussels.

(c) Measuring Devices. Every person while taking invertebrates which have a size limit shall carry a device which is capable of accurately measuring the minimum legal size of the species taken.

(d) In all ocean waters skin and Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) divers may take invertebrates as provided in this article except that in all ocean waters north of Yankee Point (Monterey Co.), SCUBA may be used only to take sea urchins, rock scallops and crabs of the genus Cancer. For the purpose of this section, breathing tubes (snorkels) are not SCUBA.

Mollusks

29.10. General.

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this article, saltwater mollusks, including octopus, may be taken only on hook-and-line or with the hands.

(b) The size of a mollusk is measured in greatest shell diameter.

29.15. Abalone.

(a) Open Area: Except in the area described in subsection (a)(1) below, abalone may only be taken north of a line drawn due west magnetic from the center of the mouth of San Francisco Bay. No abalone may be taken, landed, or possessed if landed south of this line.

(1) No Abalone may be taken in the Fort Ross area bounded by the mean high tide line and a line drawn due south true from 38°30.63’ N, 123°14.98’ W (the northern point of Fort Ross Cove) and a line drawn due west true from 38°29.45’ N, 123°11.72’ W (Jewel Gulch, south boundary of Fort Ross State Park).

(b) Open Season and Hours:

(1) Open Season: Abalone may be taken only during the months of May, June, August, September, and October.

(2) Open Hours: Abalone may be taken only from 8:00 AM to one-half hour after sunset.

(c) Bag Limit and Yearly Trip Limit: Three red abalone, Haliotis rufescens, may be taken per day. No more than three abalone may be possessed at any time. No other species of abalone may be taken or possessed. Each person taking abalone shall stop detaching abalone when the limit of three is reached. No person shall take more than 12 abalone during a calendar year. In the Open Area as defined in subsections 29.15(a) and 29.15(a)(1) above, not more than 9 abalone of the yearly trip limit may be taken south of the boundary between Sonoma and Mendocino counties.

(d) Minimum Abalone Size: All red abalone must be seven inches or greater measured along the longest shell diameter. All legal-sized abalone detached must be retained. No undersize abalone may be brought ashore or aboard any boat, placed in any type of receiver, kept on the person, or retained in any person’s possession or under his control. Undersize abalone must be replaced immediately to the same surface of the rock from which detached. Abalone brought ashore shall be in such a condition that the size can be determined.

(e) Special Gear Provisions: The use of SCUBA gear or surface-supplied air to take abalone is prohibited. Abalone may not be taken or possessed aboard any boat, vessel, or floating device in the water containing SCUBA or surface-supplied air. Abalone may be taken only by hand or by devices commonly known as abalone irons. Abalone irons must be less than 36 inches long, straight or with a curve having a radius of not less than 18 inches, and must not be less than 3/4 inch wide nor less than 1/16 inch thick. All edges must be rounded and free of sharp edges. Knives, screwdrivers and sharp instruments are prohibited.

(f) Measuring Device: Every person while taking abalone shall carry a fixed-caliper measuring gauge capable of accurately measuring seven inches. The measuring device shall have fixed opposing arms of sufficient length to measure the abalone by placing the gauge over the shell.

(g) Abalone Possession and Transportation: Abalones shall not be removed from their shell, except when being prepared for immediate consumption.

(1) Individuals taking abalone shall maintain separate possession of their abalone. Abalone may not be commingled in a float tube, dive board, dive bag, or any other container or device, until properly tagged. Only after abalones are properly tagged, as described in Section 29.16 (b), Title 14, CCR, may they be commingled with other abalone taken by another person.

(h) Report Card Required: Any person fishing for or taking abalone shall have in their possession a non-transferable Abalone Report Card issued by the department and shall adhere to all reporting and tagging requirements for abalone defined in Sections 1.74 and 29.16, Title 14, CCR.

29.16. Abalone Report Card and Tagging Requirements.

(a) Abalone Report Card Required. All individuals including divers must have an Abalone Report Card in their immediate possession while fishing for or taking red abalone. Individuals must complete and return the card pursuant to regulations in this Section and in Section 1.74.

(b) Tagging Requirements. An Abalone Report Card includes detachable tags that shall be used to tag any abalone that is taken and retained in the sport fishery. Any red abalone possessed by any person shall be tagged.

(1) Cardholders shall tag any red abalone either immediately upon exiting the water or immediately upon boarding a vessel, whichever occurs first. For the purposes of this section a vessel is defined as any watercraft used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water (reference Section 9840(a) CVC). Cardholders shall not wait to return to their vehicle, beach site or other location to tag any abalone in possession.

Exception: Cardholders who dive from a non-motorized vessel such as a kayak that is in the water may wait until immediately after disembarking from the non-motorized vessel to tag and record any abalone in possession, but shall not transfer any abalone from his or her immediate possession unless they are first tagged and recorded on the report card.

(2) The cardholder shall fill in the month, day, time of catch, and fishing location on the abalone tag, remove and completely detach the tag from the card, and affix it to the shell of the abalone.

(3) The tag shall be securely fastened to the shell of the abalone. To affix the tag, a “zip tie”, string, line or other suitable material shall be passed through a siphon hole on the abalone shell and through the tag at the location specified on the abalone tag.

(4) Tags shall be used in sequential order, and shall not be removed from the report card until immediately prior to affixing to an abalone. Any tags detached from the report card and not affixed to an abalone shall be considered used and therefore invalid.

(5) No person shall possess any used or otherwise invalid abalone tags not attached to an abalone shell.

(c) Reporting Requirements. Immediately upon tagging all abalone in possession, the cardholder shall record the month, day, time of catch, and fishing location in the appropriate spaces on the numbered line on the Abalone Report Card which corresponds to the number on the tag attached to the abalone.

(d) Records of Prior Activity. All tags must be accounted for at all times by entry of a record on the Abalone Report Card corresponding to all tags that are not in possession. Any tag that was lost or destroyed shall be recorded as such on the corresponding line on the Abalone Report Card. Any tag that was inadvertently removed and is still in possession shall be recorded as void on both the tag and the corresponding line on the Abalone Report Card.

(e) Abalone tags must be left affixed to the shell, including while stored at a residence or non-transient location, until the abalone is processed for immediate consumption.

(f) The annual fee for the Abalone Report Card is specified in Section 7149.8 of the Fish and Game Code.

29.17. Kellet’s Whelk

(a) Open Season: From July 1 through the first Wednesday after the 15th of March.

29.20. Clams General.

(a) Except as provided in this article, there are no closed seasons, bag limits or size limits on saltwater clams.

(b) Fishing hours: One-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

(c) Special gear provisions: Spades, shovels, hoes, rakes or other appliances operated by hand, except spears or gaff hooks, may be used to take clams. No instrument capable of being used to dig clams may be possessed between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise, on any beach of this state, except tools and implements used in the work of cleaning, repairing or maintaining such beach when possessed by a person authorized by appropriate authority to perform such work.

(d) Clams ashore: Clams which have a size limit when being taken must be brought ashore above the high water mark in such a condition that the size can be determined. Such clams not in the shell may not be transported or possessed, except when being prepared for immediate consumption. Clams which have a size limit and are not retained shall be immediately reburied in the area from which dug.

Attention CLammers!

The razor clam season has been closed in Del Norte and Humboldt counties since April 26, 2016 because of high levels of domoic acid in the clams. As of January 1, 2017, the season remains closed. Check the CDFW Domoic Acid Fishery Closure Information Line at (831) 649-2883 to determine whether the season has been reopened, and the CDPH Biotoxin Information Line at 1 (800) 553-4133 to determine whether the domoic acid warning has been lifted before harvesting.

29.25. Gaper Clams (Horse Clams and Horseneck Clams) and Washington Clams.

(a) Limit: Ten of each species, except in Humboldt Bay the limit is fifty in combination; however, no more than 25 gaper clams may be taken or possessed. In Elkhorn Slough the limit is twelve in combination. All gaper clams and Washington clams dug, regardless of size or broken condition, must be retained until the bag limit is reached. For purposes of this section, clams commonly termed horse clams or horseneck clams are gaper clams, not geoduck clams regulated pursuant to Section 29.30.

29.30. Geoduck Clams.

(a) Limit: Three. The first three geoduck clams dug must be retained as the bag limit regardless of size or broken condition. For purposes of this section, clams commonly termed horse clams or horseneck clams are not geoduck clams.

29.35. Littleneck Clams, Soft-Shell Clams, Chiones, Northern Quahogs, and Cockles.

(a) Limit: Fifty in combination.

(b) Minimum size: One and one-half inches in greatest diameter, except there is no size limit for soft-shell clams. All soft-shell clams dug, regardless of size or broken condition, must be retained until the bag limit is reached.

29.40. Pismo Clams.

(a) Open season: May be taken in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties September 1 through April 30. In all other counties, except in state marine reserves or other marine protected areas which prohibit the take of clams (see Section 632), Pismo clams may be taken at any time of the year.

(b) Limit: Ten.

(c) Minimum size: Five inches in greatest shell diameter north of the boundary between San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties; four and one-half inches in greatest shell diameter south of the boundary, between San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties.

(d) Clam preserves: No clams shall be taken within state marine reserves or other marine protected areas which prohibit the take of clams (see Section 632).

29.45. Razor Clams.

(a) Open season:

(1) Clam Beach (also known as Little River Beach) in Humboldt County: Between Mad River and south of the boundary line due west from the Clam Beach south parking lot trailhead (40° 59.67’ N. lat.) open only during even-numbered years; between Moonstone Beach and north of the boundary line due west from the Clam Beach south parking lot trailhead (40° 59.67’ N. lat.) open only during odd-numbered years.

(2) In Del Norte County: North of Battery Point open only during odd-numbered years; south of Battery Point open only during even-numbered years.

(3) All other areas: Open all year.

(b) Limit: Twenty. The first twenty clams dug must be retained as the bag limit regardless of size or broken condition.

29.55. Mussels.

(a) Limit: Ten pounds (in the shell) of California sea mussels and bay mussels in combination.

29.60. Rock Scallops.

(a) Limit: Ten.

(b) Methods of take: Rock scallops may be taken only by hand, by the use of dive knives, or by devices commonly known as abalone irons in compliance with provisions of Section 29.15(e) of these regulations.

29.65. Speckled (Bay) Scallops.

May not be taken or possessed.

29.70. Market Squid, Jumbo Squid.

Squid may be taken with hand-held dip nets. There is no limit.

29.71. Moon Snails.

(a) Limit: Five.

(b) Open season: All year except that moon snails may not be taken north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Crustaceans

29.80. Gear Restrictions.

(a) General Provisions:

(1) Saltwater crustaceans may be taken by hand.

(2) Nets, traps or other appliances may not be used except as provided in this Section.

(3) It is unlawful to disturb, move, or damage any trap; or remove any saltwater crustacean from a trap, that belongs to another person without written permission in possession from the owner of the trap.

(b) Hoop nets may be used to take spiny lobsters and all species of crabs. Between Point Arguello, Santa Barbara County, and the United States-Mexico border, not more than five hoop nets, as defined in (b)(1)(A) or (b)(1)(B), shall be possessed by a person when taking spiny lobster or crab, not to exceed a total of 10 hoop nets possessed when taking spiny lobster or crab, per vessel. The owner of the hoop net or person who placed the hoop net into the water shall raise the hoop net to the surface and inspect the contents of the hoop net at intervals not to exceed 2 hours.

(1) Hoop Net Defined: There are two types of hoop nets allowed for use. They shall be defined as:

(A) Type A: Fishing gear that is comprised of one to three rigid ring(s), with each ring measuring no greater than 36 inches in inside diameter nor less than 10 inches in inside diameter, which is/are connected to soft mesh thereby forming a circular-shaped net with an enclosed bottom. Lift lines shall be attached only to the top ring. A second and third rigid ring(s) may be connected by soft mesh to the top ring; however, each ring must be equal in size to or smaller than the ring above it. When the net is being raised the top ring shall be above and parallel to all other rings, with the enclosed bottom portion of the soft mesh even with or hanging below all other rings. All parts of the hoop net shall collapse and lie flat when resting on the ocean floor in such a manner that the gear does not entrap or restrict the free movement of crustaceans until lifted. When suspended from lift lines, the entire hoop net shall measure no taller than 36 inches. The ring material shall not be thicker than one inch in any dimension.

(B) Type B: Fishing gear that is comprised of two to three rigid rings (not including the bait ring), with each ring measuring no greater than 36 inches in inside diameter and the top ring measuring no less than 15 inches in inside diameter. The upper ring or rings shall be connected to the bottom ring and supported by no more than six rigid support arms, and the assembled frame shall measure no more than 10 inches tall. The rings and support material shall not be thicker than one inch in any dimension. All rings shall be connected by soft mesh, thereby forming a net with an enclosed bottom, and lift lines shall be attached only to the top ring. When suspended from lift lines the enclosed bottom portion of the net shall be even with or hanging below all other rings, and the entire net shall measure no taller than 30 inches. A bait ring may be attached to the net as long as the ring is not part of the rigid frame.

(2) Any hoop net abandoned or left unchecked for more than 2 hours shall be considered abandoned and may be seized by any person authorized to enforce these regulations.

(3) Hoop nets used south of Point Arguello shall be marked with a surface buoy. The surface buoy shall be legibly marked to identify the operator’s GO ID number as stated on the operator’s sport fishing license or lobster report card. Hoop nets deployed from persons on shore or manmade structures connected to the shore are not required to be marked with a surface buoy.

(c) Crab traps:

(1) Crab traps shall have at least two rigid circular openings of not less than four and one-quarter inches inside diameter so constructed that the lowest portion of each opening is no lower than five inches from the top of the trap.

(2) Starting August 1, 2016, crab traps shall contain at least one destruct device of a single strand of untreated cotton twine size No. 120 or less that creates an unobstructed escape opening in the top or upper half of the trap of at least five inches in diameter when the destruct attachment material corrodes or fails.

(3) Starting August 1, 2016, every crab trap except those used under authority of subsection 29.85(a)(5) of these regulations shall be marked with a buoy. Each buoy shall be legibly marked to identify the operator’s GO ID number as stated on his/her sport fishing license.

(4) Starting August 1, 2016, crab traps shall not be deployed and used in ocean waters seven days prior to the opening of the Dungeness crab season.

(d) Crab loop traps may have up to six loops.

(e) Crab trap areas: Crab traps, including crab loop traps, may be used north of Point Arguello, Santa Barbara County to take all species of crabs (see regulations for take of Dungeness crabs in traps from commercial passenger fishing vessels in Section 29.85, Title 14, CCR).

(f) Shrimp and prawn traps may be used to take shrimp and prawns only. Trap openings may not exceed ½ inch in any dimension on traps used south of Point Conception nor five inches in any dimension on traps used north of Point Conception.

(g) Diving for crustaceans: In all ocean waters, except as provided in Section 29.05, skin and scuba divers may take crustaceans by the use of the hands only. Divers may not possess any hooked device while diving or attempting to dive. Divers may be in possession of spearfishing equipment so long as possession of such equipment is otherwise lawful and is not being used to aid in the take of crustaceans.

(h) Hand-operated appliances: Spades, shovels, hoes, rakes or other appliances operated by hand may be used to take sand crabs and shrimp.

(i) Dip nets and Hawaiian-type throw nets: Shrimp may be taken with dip nets and Hawaiian type throw nets north of Point Conception.

(j) Shrimp trawls: Shrimp beam trawls may be used to take shrimp only in San Francisco Bay waters east of the Golden Gate Bridge, and in San Pablo Bay. The beam trawl frame from which the net is hung may not exceed 24 inches by 18 inches. The trawl may be towed by motorized vessels but may not be retrieved by mechanical devices. Any fish, other than shrimp, caught in the trawl must be returned immediately to the water.

29.85. Crabs.

(a) Dungeness crabs (Cancer magister):

(1) Closure: Dungeness crab may not be taken from or possessed if taken from San Francisco Bay and San Pablo Bay, plus all their tidal bays, sloughs and estuaries between the Golden Gate Bridge and Carquinez Bridge.

(2) Open season:

(A) Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties: From the first Saturday in November through July 30.

(B) All other counties: From the first Saturday in November through June 30.

(3) Limit: Ten.

(4) Not more than 60 crab traps are authorized to be used to take Dungeness crab from a vessel operating under authority of a Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessel License issued pursuant to Fish and Game Code Section 7920.

(5) Traps and trap buoys used by a commercial passenger fishing vessel to take Dungeness crab under authority of this Section and Section 29.80 shall have the commercial boat registration number of that vessel affixed to each trap and buoy.

(6) No vessel that takes Dungeness crabs under authority of this section, or Section 29.80, shall be used to take Dungeness crabs for commercial purposes.

(7) Minimum size: Five and three-quarter inches measured by the shortest distance through the body from edge of shell to edge of shell directly in front of and excluding the points (lateral spines).

(b) All crabs of the Cancer genus except Dungeness crabs, but including: yellow crabs, rock crabs, red crabs and slender crabs:

(1) Open season: All year.

(2) Limit: Thirty-five.

(3) Minimum size: Four inches measured by the shortest distance through the body, from edge of shell to edge of shell at the widest part, except there is no minimum size in Fish and Game Districts 8 and 9.

(c) All crabs of the genus Cancer, including Dungeness crabs, yellow crabs, rock crabs, red crabs and slender crabs, may be brought to the surface of the water for measuring, but no undersize crabs may be placed in any type of receiver, kept on the person or retained in any person’s possession or under his direct control; all crabs shall be measured immediately and any undersize crabs shall be released immediately into the water.

(d) Sand crabs (Emerita analoga): Limit: Fifty.

Dungeness Crab Openers and Closures Through the 2017–2018 Season

First Day of Season

Last Day of Season

Del Norte, Humboldt, and Mendocino Counties

Sat. Nov. 5, 2016 Sun. July 30, 2017
Sat. Nov. 4, 2017 Mon. July 30, 2018

All Other Counties

Sat. Nov. 5, 2016 Fri. June 30, 2017
Sat. Nov. 4, 2017 Sat. June 30, 2018

29.86. Bay Shrimp (Grass Shrimp).

(a) Limit: Five pounds.

29.87. Ghost Shrimp and Blue Mud Shrimp.

(a) Limit: Fifty in combination.

29.88. Coonstripe shrimp (Pandalus danae).

Twenty pounds (in the shell, heads on) per day. The first 20 pounds taken, regardless of size or condition, shall constitute a daily bag and possession limit.

Spiny Lobster Openers and Closures Through the 2018–2019 Season

First Day of Season

Last Day of Season

Sat. Sep. 30, 2017 Wed. Mar. 21, 2018
Sat. Sept. 29, 2018 Wed. Mar. 20, 2019

29.90. Spiny Lobsters.

(a) Open season: From 6:00 a.m. on the Saturday preceding the first Wednesday in October through the first Wednesday after the 15th of March.

(b) Limit: Seven.

(c) Minimum size: 3 and 1/4 inches measured in a straight line on the mid-line of the back from the rear edge of the eye socket to the rear edge of the body shell. All lobsters shall be measured immediately and any undersize lobster shall be released immediately into the water. Divers shall measure lobsters while in the water and shall not remove undersize lobsters from the water. Hoop netters may measure lobsters out of the water, but no undersize lobster may be placed in any type of receiver, kept on the person or retained in any person’s possession or under his or her direct control.

(d) Report Card Required: Any person fishing for or taking spiny lobster shall have in their possession a non-transferable Spiny Lobster Report Card issued by the department and shall adhere to all reporting requirements for lobster defined in Sections 1.74 and 29.91, Title 14, CCR.

(e) Spiny lobsters shall be kept in a whole, measurable condition, until being prepared for immediate consumption.

29.91. Spiny Lobster Report Card Requirements for Ocean Waters.

(a) Spiny Lobster Report Card Required. All individuals must have a Spiny Lobster Report Card in their possession while fishing for or taking lobster. In the case of a person diving from a boat, the report card may be kept in the boat, or in the case of a person diving from the shore, the report card may be kept within 500 yards from the point of entry. Individuals must complete and return the card pursuant to regulations in this Section and in Section 1.74.

(b) Prior to beginning fishing activity, the cardholder must record the month, day, location, and gear code on the first available line on the report card.

(c) When the cardholder moves to another location code, or finishes fishing for the day, he or she must immediately record on the card the number of lobster kept from that location.

(d) In the event an individual fills in all lines and returns a Spiny Lobster Report Card, an additional card may be purchased. See Section 1.74.

(e) The annual fee for the Spiny Lobster Report Card is specified in Section 701, Title 14, CCR.

New California Spiny Lobster Regulations

New recreational California spiny lobster regulations will be in effect as of April 1, 2017. Changes include a new opening time of 6:00 a.m. on the first day of the season, and clarification of measuring procedures and rules regarding possession of spearfishing gear while diving for crustaceans. Also, hoop nets used to take crustaceans south of Point Arguello must be marked with a surface buoy, and the surface buoy must have the operator’s GO ID number on it. Hoop nets deployed from shore or piers are not required to be marked with a surface buoy.

Spiny Lobster Report Card

$21.60 Non-Return Fee

Any person fishing for or taking spiny lobster must have a Spiny Lobster Report Card (including children, those who are fishing from a public pier, and those who are fishing on Free Fishing Days). All Spiny Lobster Report Cards must be returned, either by mail to the address printed on the card, or reported online at wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/online-sales, by April 30 following the end of the spiny lobster season.

Important: If you report your catch online, retain the confirmation number generated by a successful online report as proof of submittal. If you do not receive a confirmation number, it means that the report was not successfully recorded in the database; please try resubmitting the report. Successfully submitted reports will display in your reporting history on the main harvest reporting list page.

You must report even if no lobster were taken. If a card was purchased but not used, report it online or write ‘Did Not Lobster Fish’ across the card and return it by mail. If you report online you are not required to return your card by mail.

A $21.60 non-return fee will be charged when purchasing a Spiny Lobster Report Card if the previous year’s report card is not returned or reported by the April 30 deadline. To avoid the fee, you may either return or report your card by the deadline, or skip one lobster fishing season. After skipping one season, you can purchase a spiny lobster report card the following season at no extra cost.