What Are the Basic Regulations for Fishing in California?


Quick Answer

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife requires that any person 16 years or older have a license for sport or commercial fishing. Licenses are available to residents and non-residents of California, but the fees are greater for non-residents. Regulations impose limits on the times of year when fishing is allowed, the deepest water that may be fished, the daily take permitted and the size of fish that may be taken. These regulations vary by species and geographic area.

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Full Answer

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife regulates fishing for sport and commercial purposes in both fresh and salt water. The fishing regulations also apply to the taking of mollusks, crustaceans, invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles from ocean or inland waters. Although, in general, a license is required, there are two "free fishing days" per year when anyone may fish without a sport fishing license. In 2016, these days are July 2 and September 3.

As of 2016, the Department of Fish and Wildlife maintains an online map that summarizes current recreational ocean fishing regulations for different sections of the California coast. For certain species of fish, such as sturgeon, abalone and spiny lobster, there are additional reporting requirements, and anglers must report their harvests to the Department.

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