No limits on fish and 20 fish limit...

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#1
There is no limit number on starry flounder but the question came up as to if the overall 20 fish limit would still apply. I asked Ed at Fish & Wildlife who said no. Thus it should be the same on all fish listed below under 27.60 (b).

27.60. Limit.

(a) General. No more than 20 finfish in combination of all species with not more than 10 of any one species, may be taken or possessed by any one person except as otherwise provided or as defined in sub-section (c) below or in Section 195. See sections 27.70 through 28.62 for special bag limits, minimum size limits and poundage restrictions for certain species that apply in addition to the general bag limit.

(b) There is no limit on the following species: anchovy, grunion, jacksmelt, topsmelt, Pacific butterfish (pompano), queenfish, sanddabs, skipjack, jack mackerel, Pacific mackerel, Pacific staghorn sculpin, round herring, Pacific herring, Pacific sardine, petrale sole and starry flounder.

https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Sport-Fishing
 

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#2
But how many fish do you really need to keep? Personally, I wouldn't mind including all fish in some sort of overall limit that would combine these no limit fish with the 20 finfish limit. Thus perhaps a 30 or 40 overall fish limit that would allow the 20 finfish and an extra 10 or 20 mackerel, sanddab or other (current) no limit species. Few though would agree when you start talking about fish like anchovy, herring, sardine, grunion, etc. Perhaps the list of no limit fish should simply be reduced?
 

EgoNonBaptizo

Well-known member
#3
A limit would be greatly appreciated for most if not all of these species. Because of constant fishing pressure by (arguably) lower-middle class minority groups, a lot of these species that were once ubiquitous have simply disappeared from local piers. For example, I have only ever seen one Pacific butterfish in the all the time that I have been fishing, and that was inside a bait tank on a party boat. This situation is especially apparent in northern Orange County and LA county. There clearly needs to be a limit for some of these demersal fish, and even for some pelagic ones, such as mackerel, jacksmelt, butterfish, and skipjack. For fish like anchovies, herring, sardines, and grunion, I think that a weight/volume limit would be most effective. The issue is enforcing the legislation on piers. Often the "commercial" fishermen that line the railings of most oceanfront SoCal piers take their catches to their vehicles before resuming with empty buckets. It's not hard to imagine them hiding multiple over-limit harvests in their cars.
 

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#4
I went back and looked at my records and I do see a decrease in the catch of Pacific butterfish in the last decade or so. Almost all I have caught were between the Imperial Beach Pier and the Belmont Pier in Long Beach (so basically San Diego and Orange County piers plus Belmont). Hard to believe that they were once one of the most commonly caught fish at SoCal piers (in the really early years). In those early days they were the most highly prized SoCal fish as far as eating and they were given the highest price per pound in fish markets (although small). Not surprisingly, huge numbers were taken by sports anglers and commercial fishermen. The most I ever caught on a trip to a pier was only 11 and that was on a day at the Ocean Beach Pier in San Diego when fish were thick—butterfish, queenfish, yellowfin croaker, white croaker, white seabass, smelt and anchovies. Generally I've only caught 2-3 on days that they showed up. I did notice that almost every day I caught one at a SoCal pier it was also a good day for queenfish and/or Pacific mackerel and jacksmelt.
 

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#5
BTW, Just to clear up any confusion — with the exception of the "no limit" fish posted above, and fish with "special conditions" (i.e., some rockfish—see the Regulations Booklet), EVERY OTHER SPECIES falls into the no more than ten of a species and no more than 20 overall fish. Thus you could have ten swell shark (that would make you very unswell (sick) if you ate them), five shovelnose guitarfish, three thornback ray, one butterfly ray and one diamond stingray — no more than 10 of a species and no more than 20 total. But, do check the Regulations Book for those "special condition" fish.
 
#6
As some others have said maybe a weight limit on some fish, like anchovies and sardines, makes more sense than a limit on the number of them. In the particular case of Anchovies, when you fish them with hook and line, even if Sabikis are used, the damage a fisherman can produce on a school with literally millions of them seems to be quite limited.
 

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#7
I think with the number of fish in a school of anchovies, herring, or sardines it would be hard to have a limit. That’s obviously true with herring given the fact that that nets are so often used to take them. The same with grunion that are taken by hand on the beach (even though their numbers may be far behind the other three species).
 

Red Fish

Well-known member
#8
There is no limit number on starry flounder but the question came up as to if the overall 20 fish limit would still apply. I asked Ed at Fish & Wildlife who said no. Thus it should be the same on all fish listed below under 27.60 (b).

27.60. Limit.

(a) General. No more than 20 finfish in combination of all species with not more than 10 of any one species, may be taken or possessed by any one person except as otherwise provided or as defined in sub-section (c) below or in Section 195. See sections 27.70 through 28.62 for special bag limits, minimum size limits and poundage restrictions for certain species that apply in addition to the general bag limit.

(b) There is no limit on the following species: anchovy, grunion, jacksmelt, topsmelt, Pacific butterfish (pompano), queenfish, sanddabs, skipjack, jack mackerel, Pacific mackerel, Pacific staghorn sculpin, round herring, Pacific herring, Pacific sardine, petrale sole and starry flounder.

https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Sport-Fishing
-Ken, I was just at Eckley Pier the other day and a guy blurted out, “is there a limit on smelt” as the smelt were coming in readily on incoming. I replied, “no limit on smelt,” as another guy I had been talking to interjected, “20 pounds is the limit!”

- I did not wish to contest his answer but help recalling some others on PFIC referring to 25 pounds for species on your “no limit.”

-So, which is it Ken, or Ed Robert’s if you are chiming in? Is there actually a limit in pounds to the “no limit” list? For instance, some don’t know there is a limit of (20) shiner perch. And if so, can you site the regulation to cite as proof to pass on to others? Thanks.
 

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#9
Robert, Smelt (surf smelt, day smelt and whitebait) are not included in that list of no limit fish. There is a 25-pound limit on smelt [Reg 28.45] but generally those are caught by net. Jacksmelt, which is probably what was caught at Eckley is different and not even a smelt, it's a silverside (as are topsmelt) and both have a no limit status.

As for what was sited, I gave the regulation number and language for the no limit rule and Ed Roberts (who has been putting the regulation booklet together) verified the information.

In regard to shinerperch, note what I said about "special condition" fish. Take note of the surfperch regulation [28.59] and you will see special seasonal conditions for SF Bay, a minimum size regulation for redtail surfperch, and an extended limit for shinerperch (which says "in addition to the overall daily bag limit). The special condition fish (including some in special groundfish areas) include many.

I was hoping to clear up some confusion but it's still the responsibility of every angler to read and abide by the regulation booklet. I'm considering going back and adding the regulation language for each fish that's been posted but it will take some time.