By: Parimal M. Rohit
SACRAMENTO —The groundfish season officially opened March 1, according to California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), though new fishing regulations adopted by the Fish and Game Commission last month became effective March 10.
Southern California anglers can fish for groundfish this year between March 1 and Dec. 31. All fishing must occur in 60 fathoms (360 feet) or less.
DFW staff stated the approved regulations were the result of a joint effort between recreational anglers and the department.
“The changes are designed to allow as much fishing opportunity as possible while remaining within allowable catch limits,” said Marci Yaremko, CDFW’s State/Federal Fisheries Program manager. “However, as we do each year, we will be closely monitoring catches up and down the state during the open season to ensure we don’t exceed any limits.”
Fish and Game commissioners also increased the lingcod bag limit from two to three fish and, according to DFW staff, “set a sub-bag limit of five black rockfish within the 10-fish Rockfish, Cabezon, Greenling (RCG) complex bag limit.”
The California’s scorpionfish fishery will be shut down statewide between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31.
Finally, the statewide prohibition against taking and possessing of bronze-spotted rockfish, canary rockfish, cowcod and yelloweye rockfish remains in effect.
The March 1 season opener is the earliest in all of California. Anglers seeking to catch groundfish in Central California locations (between Los Angeles and San Francisco) must wait until April 1.
Groundfish season opens April 15 in San Francisco and May 15 off the Mendocino and Northern California coasts.
Anglers in Southern California have the greatest range to fish for bottom feeders; the 60 fathoms limit is the deepest level allowed in the state. In Central California, anglers are only permitted to search for groundfish in 40 fathoms (240 feet) or less. The levels are shallower in San Francisco (30 fathoms/180 feet) and Mendocino/Northern California (20 fathoms/120 feet).
For more information about the approved regulations, call the Recreational Groundfish Hotline at (831) 649-2801 or check DFW’s Marine Region Groundfish Central website.