California fishing guide

Welcome to your key source for all fishing-related information in California. Discover not only the prime fishing spots but also learn about the diverse species inhabiting these waters. Stay informed about the latest fishing regulations and licensing requirements for fishing in California

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51 waterbodies
829 cities
102 fishes

Licenses for fishing in California

For detailed information on California fishing licenses, you can refer to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

License Type Resident Fee Non-Resident Fee
Annual Fishing License $52.66 $142.05
Senior Resident Fishing License (65 or older) $7.98 -
Second-Rod Validation $15.12 $15.54
Ocean Enhancement Validation $5.12 -
Abalone Report Card $24.33 -
North Coast Salmon Report Card $7.75 -
Reduced-Fee Sport Fishing License (for eligible low-income individuals) $7.98 -

Additional notes:

  • Children under the age of 16 do not need a fishing license.
  • Military veterans who are California residents with a service-related disability of 50% or more can get a free fishing license.
  • Special free fishing days are offered during the year when a fishing license is not required.

Fishing Regulations in California

Prohibited Gear and Fishing Methods
  • Use of explosives, poisons, or electrical devices for fishing is illegal.
  • Fishing with nets, traps, or seines is restricted to specific permits and designated areas.
  • Use of live fish as bait is limited in certain waters to protect native species and prevent the spread of invasive species.
  • Snagging fish is not allowed except in designated areas during specific seasons.
  • Spearing and bowfishing are permitted for certain species in specified waters, with restrictions.
Catch Limits
  • Trout: Daily bag and possession limits vary by district, often 5 fish.
  • Bass (Largemouth, Smallmouth, and Striped): Bag and size limits vary by water body and species.
  • Salmon: Daily bag limits vary by area and season, with specific regulations for ocean and river fishing.
  • Crab (Dungeness and Rock): Specific season dates and bag limits, with size restrictions for Dungeness crab.
  • Rockfish, Cabezon, and Greenling: Combined daily bag limits, with seasonal closures and gear restrictions.
  • Lobster: Seasonal fishing with a specific bag limit and size restrictions.
  • Sturgeon: Daily bag limits apply, with reporting requirements for catches.
  • Halibut: Daily bag limits vary, with size restrictions in some areas.
  • Catfish and Panfish: Generally no bag or size limits, but regulations may vary locally.
  • Abalone: Currently under a moratorium with all harvest prohibited due to conservation efforts.
Restrictions on Access to Water Bodies
  • Access to Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is restricted or regulated for conservation.
  • Fishing on private property requires explicit permission from the landowner.
  • Special regulations for fishing in state parks and wildlife refuges.
  • No fishing zones enforced around certain infrastructures like dams and fish hatcheries.
  • Seasonal access restrictions in certain areas for fish spawning and habitat management.
Zones of Special Regulation
  • Special trout regulations in designated waters, including catch-and-release and artificial lures only areas.
  • Areas with gear restrictions, such as hook and weight regulations in ocean fishing.
  • Slot limits and specific bag limits in trophy fishing areas for bass and other species.
  • Regulations for fishing in rivers and streams, especially during salmon and steelhead seasons.
  • Special management areas with unique regulations to protect fish populations and habitats.
Protection of Rare Species
  • Fishing for endangered or threatened species is strictly prohibited.
  • Regulations in place to protect habitats of rare or sensitive aquatic species.
  • Special permits required for research fishing involving rare or protected species.
  • Conservation measures and habitat restoration projects for vulnerable species.
  • Monitoring and enforcement efforts to protect rare and endangered marine life.
Seasonal Restrictions
  • Closed seasons for specific species during spawning or migration, particularly for salmon and steelhead.
  • Regulated fishing seasons for sustainable harvesting of marine and freshwater resources.
  • Temporary area closures for conservation, research, or emergency reasons.
  • Season-specific regulations for migratory fish and shellfish species.
  • Special regulations for ice fishing in mountainous regions during winter months.
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