Unlawful Acts

Fishing Regulations Icon California 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 wildlife.ca.gov/reportcards 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 T14 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 T14 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).

Don’t Move a Mussel — or Mudsnail!

These non-native species reduce fishing opportunities by:

  • Reducing food for fish, resulting in fewer, smaller fish
  • Causing boating and fishing closures
  • Encrusting watercraft, motors, and launches

If you find either of these species, call the Department of FIsh and Wildlife’s Quagga Mussel Hotline at (866)440-9530 or email invasives@wildlife.ca.gov

Clean, Drain, and Dry

To prevent spreading Quagga and Zebra Mussels and New Zealand Mudsnails, do the following after each outing:

  • Clean gear thoroughly before leaving every waterbody, even if you believe it is free of mussels and/or snails
  • Inspect watercraft surfaces and remove any plants and debris
  • Wash inside and outside of watercraft and trailer with a hot water, high-pressure wash
  • Allow all areas of the watercraft to completely dry before launching again
  • Drain all water, including from live-wells, ballasts, lower unit, etc.
  • Dispose of all bait in the trash
  • Never move bait between waterbodies

For more information on invasive species, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Invasives


Derelict Fishing Gear in california

It takes decades to disintegrate… but only minutes to report.

Help us tackle California’s derelict fishing gear!

Report sightings of derelict recreational and commercial fishing gear. Report lost recreational and commercial fishing gear. Anonymous reports accepted.

Call 1-888-491-GEAR or report online: seadocsociety.org/lostfishinggear