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What’s New for 2017

Saltwater Marine Fishing Regulations California Saltwater Fishing

CDFW Offices No Longer Accept Cash

Starting January 1, 2017 the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will no longer accept cash at the License and Revenue Branch and regional license offices. Checks, money orders, or any debit or credit card with the Visa or Mastercard logo are accepted. Cash transactions will still be available for all items sold at authorized local sales agents. Search for a license agent near you at

Groundfish (Effective February 7, 2017)

The California Fish and Game Commission approved changes to recreational groundfish regulations on December 7, 2016 to conform to changes in federal rules for 2017 and 2018. Changes included new season dates and fishing depths in some groundfish management areas, a lingcod bag limit decrease from 3 fish to 2 fish, a new sub-bag limit of 1 canary rockfish within the RCG Complex bag limit of 10 fish, elimination of the sub-bag limit for bocaccio, a black rockfish bag limit decrease from 5 fish to 3 fish within the RCG Complex bag limit of 10 fish, and allowing petrale sole and starry flounder to be retained year-round at all depths.

See pg. 11 for ways to stay informed of in-season regulation changes. Anglers are advised to call the CDFW Groundfish Hotline at (831) 649-2801, or check the CDFW website at for the most up-to-date groundfish regulations.

Red Abalone (Effective April 1, 2017)

The California Fish and Game Commission approved emergency regulations on December 7, 2016 to reduce the take of red abalone in the open area north of San Francisco Bay due to unfavorable environmental conditions. Under the emergency regulations, red abalone may be taken only during the months of May, June, August, September and October. The yearly trip limit is reduced from 18 to 12 abalone, with no more than 9 abalone from south of the boundary between Sonoma and Mendocino counties.

California Spiny Lobster (Effective April 1, 2017)

The California Fish and Game Commission approved changes in the recreational California spiny lobster fishing regulations on June 22, 2016. The new regulations are included in this booklet, and are posted on the CDFW website at Changes include a new opening time of 6:00 a.m. on the first day of the season, and clarification of measuring methods 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.

It is unlawful to do the following

  • Fish without a valid fishing license if you are 16 years of age or older (FGC, Section 7145)
  • Fail to return a report card by the deadline printed on the report card. Reporting harvest online at satisfies the return requirement. (CCR T-14, Section 1.74)
  • Use a sport fishing license that is not signed by the licensee. (CCR T-14, Section 705)
  • Transfer any license, tag, validation, stamp, permit, application or reservation to another person. (FGC, Section 1052)
  • Use or possess any license, validation, tag, stamp, permit, application or reservation that was not lawfully issued to the user. (FGC, Section 1052)
  • Alter, mutilate, deface, duplicate or counterfeit any license, tag, validation, stamp, permit, application or reservation. (FGC, Section 1052)
  • Fail to exhibit on demand all licenses, validations, tags, stamps, permits, applications or reservations to any peace officer or authorized CDFW employee. (FGC, Section 2012)
  • Fish without the required report card on a free fishing day. (CCR T-14, Section 1.74)
  • Disturb the legal traps of another person. (CCR T-14, Section 29.80)
  • Sell fish taken under the authority of a sport fishing license. (FGC, Section 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, Section 5500)
  • Not allow the inspection, by a warden, of any boat, market, or receptacle, where fish or wildlife may be found. (FGC, Section 1006)
  • Litter into or within 150 feet of state waters. (FGC, Section 5652)
  • Possess fish in a condition that the size or species cannot be determined. (FGC, sections 5508 and 5509)
  • Use or possess any net in state waters except as is authorized. (FGC, Section 8603)
  • Possess fish or wildlife taken unlawfully. (FGC, Section 2002)
  • Take fish or wildlife in violation of any section of law. (FGC, Section 2000)