Fish and Wildlife FAQ from Ed Roberts of the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife —

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#1
Pier and Shore-Based Fishing FAQs
Q. Where and when can I fish in the ocean without a fishing license?

A. Anyone 16 years and older must have a fishing license displayed so that it is plainly visible above the waist to take any kind of fish, mollusk, invertebrate or crustacean in California, except for persons angling from a public pier for non-commercial purposes in ocean or bay waters. A public pier is defined in the sport fishing regulations as a publicly owned man-made structure that has the following characteristics: is connected, above the mean high tide, to the main coastline or to the landmass of a named and charted natural island; has unrestricted free access for the general public; and has been built or currently functions for the primary purpose of allowing angling access to ocean waters.

Additionally, publicly owned jetties or breakwaters that are connected to land, as described above, that have free unrestricted access for the general public and whose purpose it is to form the most seaward protective boundary of an ocean harbor are public piers. Jetties, breakwaters, promenades, sea walls, moles, docks, linings, barriers and other structures that are not the most seaward protective boundary of an ocean harbor, are not public piers.

Even though a license is not required on a public pier, all other regulations (including minimum size, bag limits, seasons and report card requirements) apply while fishing from a public pier.

If you are in doubt about whether or not a license is needed to fish a particular location, the best way to avoid a potential citation is to purchase a license or find another spot to fish where you are sure that a license is not required.

The Department of Fish and Game offers two “Free Fishing Days” per year (typically one in June and one in September – dates vary each year, so check the regulations or the Department’s web site www.dfg.ca.gov/mrd ) to encourage new and lapsed anglers to participate in this great outdoor tradition. On these dates, the Department of Fish and Game waives the normal licensing requirements; all other fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, report card requirements, gear restrictions and fishing hours remain in effect, however.

Q: Do I need an ocean enhancement stamp while fishing from a public pier?

A: An ocean enhancement stamp is required when fishing anywhere in the ocean south of Point Arguello (Santa Barbara county) where a fishing license is required. A stamp is not required to fish from a public pier.

Q: While fishing from a public pier without a fishing license, am I allowed to go down onto the beach to land a big fish that I hooked on the pier?

A: No. A fishing license is required when fishing everywhere except for a public pier. Even if you hooked the fish on the pier and only came down onto the beach to land the fish, you would need a valid license to avoid a potential citation. Purchasing an annual fishing license will make this a non-issue; or you may want to buy a pier net to help you land bigger fish from the pier.

Q: How many rods can I actively use while fishing from a public pier?

A: You may use no more than two rods and lines, two hand lines, or two nets, traps or other appliances used to take crabs. Species-specific gear restrictions (such as rockfish, lingcod and salmon) do apply when fishing from a pier.

Q: How many rods can I actively use while fishing from a public pier inside San Francisco bay?

A: On public piers in San Francisco and San Pablo bays between the Golden Gate Bridge and the west Carquinez Bridge, you may only use two lines, two hand lines, or two nets, traps or other appliances used to take crabs. Species-specific gear restrictions (such as rockfish, lingcod and salmon) do apply when fishing from a pier.

Q: How many rods can I use while fishing from the shore where a fishing license is required?

A: Any number of hooks and lines may be used to take finfish in all ocean waters and bays except in San Francisco and San Pablo bays between the Golden Gate Bridge and the west Carquinez Bridge, where you may only use one line with no more than three hooks. Species-specific gear restrictions (such as rockfish, lingcod and salmon) do apply when fishing from the shore.

Q: How many rods can I actively use while fishing from the shore inside San Francisco bay?

A: While fishing from the shore in San Francisco and San Pablo bays between the Golden Gate Bridge and the west Carquinez Bridge, you may only use one line with no more than three hooks; you may also use an unlimited number of crab traps. Species-specific gear restrictions (such as sturgeon, rockfish, lingcod and salmon) do apply when fishing from the shore.

Q: If I have two rods and lines in the water on a public pier, can I also put a baited hoop net in the water?

A: No, you may use no more than two rods and lines, two hand lines, or two nets, traps or other appliances used to take crabs.

Q: Can I have more than two rods with me while I’m on a public pier?

A: Yes, as long as you are actively using no more than two rods at any one time.

Q: Can I keep a crab or lobster if I catch it on a hook with bait?

A: No, hook and line is not a legal method of take for crustaceans. Any lobster or crab taken on hook and line shall be returned to the water immediately.

Q: Do I have to use barbless circle hooks while fishing with a lure for salmon in the ocean from a public pier?

A: Yes and no. Hooks attached to lures must be barbless, but they do not have to be circle hooks. You must use barbless circle hooks when fishing with bait in the ocean from a public pier for salmon.

Q: Can I use two rods while fishing for salmon in the ocean from a public pier?

A: No. Salmon may be taken by angling with no more than one rod in ocean waters north of Point Conception.

Q: Is the monkeyface prickleback (eel) considered rockfish, and included in rockfish seasonal and emergency closures?

A: No. The term “rockfish” in the sport fishing regulations refers to members of the genus Sebastes. While the monkeyface prickleback is considered a “nearshore fish stock” under Section 1.90 of the regulations, it is not a nearshore rockfish, or any other kind of rockfish.
 
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#2
I need some clarification on the number of rods that can be used from shore fishing. It said any number of rods may be used for "finfish". How about crab snaring? Crabs are not finfish.
 
#4
Except inside San Francisco Bay, inside MPAs that restrict harvest of crabs, and when species with gear restrictions are in possession, any number of rods may be used to deploy crab loop snares.