Changes to recreational groundfish regulations are officially in effect

California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife adopted new policies in late 2018.

STATEWIDE—A new set of recreational groundfish regulations officially went into effect for 2019; the changes mean California’s book for 2018-19 ocean regulations, particularly as it relates to groundfish regulations, is now out of date.

California’s Fish and Game Commission adopted the updated regulations at its mid-December meeting.

The following changes were made to the state’s recreational groundfish regulations:

  • Daily bag and possession limit for lingcod has been decreased from two to one in the Mendocino, San Francisco, Central and Southern Management areas
  • The California scorpionfish (or sculpin) fishery will now be open year-round for the Southern Management Area
  • The Rockfish Conservation Area in the Southern Management Area now has an extended boundary (75 fathoms, or 450 feet)
  • The Cowcod Conservation Area has an increased depth limit to 40 fathoms (240 feet); select groundfish species could be taken or possessed in this area
  • Boat-based groundfish fishing in the San Francisco Management Area begins on April 1 (as opposed to April 15).

“Many of these changes were made in response to the outcomes of recent stock assessment science,” DFW staff said in a released statement. “Populations of yelloweye rockfish and cowcod, which were declared overfished in 2002 and 2000, respectively are increasing faster than anticipated. The improved status of these species allowed fishery managers to recommend management measures that provide some additional fishing opportunity.

“Similarly, in the spring of 2018, the canary rockfish sub-bag limit increased to two fish statewide, as the catch of this recently rebuilt stock was well under the recently increased harvest limit,” the DFW statement continued.

Anglers are still prohibited from taking or possessing bronzespotted rockfish, cowcod and yelloweye rockfish.

Call the Recreational Groundfish Hotline at 831-649-2801 for more information on the new 2019 recreational groundfish regulations and to keep up to date with in-season changes. Current regulations are also posted on the DFW website, which is at

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