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California State Fishing Resources

Updated on May 24, 2015

California Department of Fish and Game

The first place to head online for fishing in California would be the Department of Fish and Game's Fishing in California department. This main portal will direct you to current state marine projects underway, California ocean sportfishing maps and current regulations, and a calendar of events of the latest and future happenings in California, including season openings of certain fish and marine species.

Not only is sportfishing covered, but commercial fishermen can find maps and coordinates for protected areas and licensing information. Freshwater fishing, ocean fishing (saltwater and offshore), and hatcheries are all covered.


Fishing Passport

Fishing Passport

The California Fishing Passport is a fun program that gets everyone involved in fishing and in documenting their catches. How the program works is once a valid California fishing license is purchased (note the DFG states anyone under 15 doesn't need a license to participate) each catch is then logged into the fishing passport book as a record of fishing achievements.

Each catch is photographed, or if a photo is not available then a signature of a witness certifying the authenticity of the catch is captured, then documents are presented to any DFG licensing office or authorized stamping agent to get a stamp for one of 150 species of freshwater and saltwater finfish and shellfish species.

Catch and release is encouraged. Authorized stamping locations are located all over the state and can be located by state county or fishing club.

California Fishing Passport
California Fishing Passport | Source
An example page of the passport - the kind of information you are expected to log in.
An example page of the passport - the kind of information you are expected to log in. | Source

Fish and Shellfish Identification

Knowing what kind of fish you caught is important in fishing, and the DFG has a wealth of information for many different types of marine species.

The California Fish and Shellfish Marine Identification portal includes species identification of popular fishing species such as rockfish, halibut, hagfish, Dungeness crab, surfperch and white seabass.There are downloadable guides and flyers for these fish:

  • Black Rockfish and Blue Rockfish
  • Canary, Vermilion, Yelloweye Rockfish
  • Common Surfperches
  • Marine Bait Fishes of Northern California
  • Selected Nearshore Fishes
  • Silver (Coco) Salmon
  • Slope Rockfish

The California Fish and Shellfish Identification Book portal includes species identification in a handy book. As of this article, there are downloadable guides for the following fish:

  • White Crappie
  • Goose Lake Redband Trout
  • Red Swamp Crayfish
  • American Shad
  • Vermilion Rockfish
  • Pacific Littleneck Clam

California Finfish and Shellfish Identification Book
California Finfish and Shellfish Identification Book | Source

California Fishing Regulations and Licenses

Fishing licenses and regulations are another part of fishing, and there are rules every angler must abide by. Not only are there regulations for the different fishing seasons for specific species, but limits, gear and equipment requirements, protected areas, and more. Find what you need below:

Fishing in the Cities

The Urban Fishing Program was created in 1993 to get more people fishing in urban and city areas. There are a great many lakes to go fishing inside the city in the following counties and areas: Los Angeles and Orange counties, the San Francisco Bay areas, and the greater Sacramento metropolitan areas.

Free Fishing Days in California

Everyone over 15 must have a fishing license (16 years of age and older) - EXCEPT on free fishing days. In California, July 4 and September 5 are the two free fishing days. On these two days though every fisherman must have the appropriate report card for abalone, steelhead, sturgeon, spiny lobster, or salmon caught in the Smith or Klamath-Trinity river systems.

How to Report a Tagged Fish

Sometimes fish (both planted/farmed and wild fish) are tagged. This is either done at the fish hatchery or when the CA DFG does a catch and release project looking for specific species. This helps researchers gather much needed data about the stocking success, migration (where it goes), ages of the fish, and strain identification.

There are different Fish Tag Submission Form guides - one is a general one, and two are specific to the Trinity River and Lake Davis.

Dart tag.
Dart tag. | Source
Carlin tag.
Carlin tag. | Source
Opercle tag.
Opercle tag. | Source
Peterson disc or tag.
Peterson disc or tag. | Source
Spaghetti tag.
Spaghetti tag. | Source
T-bar anchor tag.
T-bar anchor tag. | Source


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