Finfish Fishing Gear

Saltwater Marine Fishing Regulations California Saltwater Fishing

Gear Restrictions

All laws or regulations hereunder are either reproduced verbatim from the Fish and Game Code or from Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR), as adopted by the Fish and Game Commission under authority of the Fish and Game Code.

(Regulations seen in RED TEXT are new this year.)

28.65. General.

Except as provided in this article, fin fish may be taken only on hook-and-line or by hand. Any number of hooks and lines may be used in all ocean waters and bays except:

(a) San Francisco Bay, as described in Section 27.00, where only one line with not more than three hooks may be used.

(b) On public piers, no person shall use more than two rods and lines, two hand lines, or two nets, traps or other appliances used to take crabs.

(c) When rockfish (genus Sebastes), lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus), cabezon (Scorpaenichthys marmoratus), or kelp or rock greenlings (Hexagrammos decagrammus and Hexagrammos lagocephalus) are aboard or in possession, where only one line with not more than two hooks may be used pursuant to Sections 28.55, 28.27, 28.28 or 28.29, respectively.

(d) No gaff hook shall be used to take or assist in landing any finfish shorter than the minimum size limit. For the purpose of this section a gaff hook is any hook with or without a handle used to assist in landing fish or to take fish in such a manner that the fish does not take the hook voluntarily in its mouth. No person shall take finfish from any boat or other floating device in ocean waters without having a landing net in possession or available for immediate use to assist in landing undersize fish of species having minimum size limits; the opening of any such landing net shall be not less than eighteen inches in diameter.

(e) North of Point Conception (34°27’00” N. lat.), where only one rod and line may be used by each angler fishing for salmon, or fishing from any boat or floating device with salmon on board.

(f) Mousetrap gear prohibited: It is unlawful to use, assist in using, or to possess aboard any vessel, hook-and-line gear commonly termed “mouse traps” constructed of a hook(s) or lure(s), attached to one end of a line that is attached to a float, or floats at the other end, and that when fished, is not attached directly to a person or vessel. Possession of such gear aboard a vessel shall be prima facie evidence that the gear is being used in violation of this regulation.

(g) North of Point Conception to Horse Mountain, Section 27.80(a)(3) applies to each angler fishing for salmon or fishing from any boat or floating device with salmon on board.

28.70. Weight, Power Driven Gurdies or Power Driven Winches.

(a) No sinker or weight weighing more than four pounds, nor any power driven gurdy or power driven winch, may be used in any ocean waters or saltwater bays north of Point Arguello. This regulation does not apply to:

(1) Power gurdies or power winches used solely for handling crab nets or traps;

(2) The use of downriggers where the downrigger line is not used as a fishing line but is attached to the fishing line by a breakaway line; or

(3) The use of electric fishing reels manufactured for sport fishing use.

28.75. Baited Traps for Shiner Surfperch, Pacific Staghorn Sculpin and Longjaw Mudsuckers.

In San Francisco and San Pablo bays and their saltwater tributaries, and in the open ocean and the contiguous bays of Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin counties, traps not over three feet in greatest dimension may be used to take shiner surfperch, Pacific staghorn sculpin and longjaw mudsuckers. Any other species taken shall be returned to the water immediately.

28.80. Dip Nets and Hawaiian Type Throw Nets.

Dip nets of any size and baited hoop nets not greater than 36 inches in diameter may be used to take herring, Pacific staghorn sculpin, shiner surfperch, surf smelt, topsmelt, anchovies, shrimp and squid. Hawaiian type throw nets may be used north of Point Conception to take such species.

28.85. Beach Nets.

Beach nets not over 20 feet in length with meshes at least 7/8 of an inch in length may be used to take surf smelt north of Point Conception.

28.90. Diving, Spearfishing.

Persons who are floating or swimming in the water may use spearfishing gear and skin or SCUBA diving equipment to take fin fish other than giant (black) sea bass, garibaldi, gulf grouper, broomtail grouper, trout, salmon, or broadbill [swordfish], except that:

(a) No person may possess or use a spear within 100 yards of the mouth of any stream in any ocean waters north of Ventura County.

(b) When spearfishing for or in possession of federal groundfish species or associated species as authorized pursuant to subsection 27.20(b)(1)(D), in an area or during a season closed to the take of these species, no fishing gear except spearfishing gear may be aboard the vessel or watercraft.

28.91. Slurp Guns.

Slurp guns may be used to take finfish except that bag and possession limits shall not be exceeded wherever they apply and no species of finfish may be taken for which a minimum size limit has been established (see Sections 27.60 and 28.00-28.55).

28.95. Spears, Harpoons and Bow and Arrow Fishing Tackle.

Spears, harpoons and bow and arrow fishing tackle may be used for taking all varieties of skates, rays, and sharks, except white sharks. Harpoons may be used to assist in taking Pacific halibut as specified in Section 28.20. Such gear may not be possessed or used within 100 yards of the mouth of any stream in any ocean waters north of Ventura County, nor aboard any vessel on any day or on any trip when broadbill swordfish or marlin have been taken. Bow and arrow fishing tackle may be used to take finfish other than giant (black) sea bass, garibaldi, gulf grouper, broomtail grouper, trout, salmon, broadbill [swordfish] and white shark.

29.00. Gear Used in Taking Grunion.

No appliances of any kind may be used to take grunion, and no holes may be dug in the beach to entrap them.