canary rockfish

Recreational Canary Rockfish Bag Limit Increases Effective April 14

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announces a statewide increase to the recreational canary rockfish (Sebastes pinniger) daily limit within the Rockfish, Cabezon and Greenling (RCG) bag limit. The sub-bag limit for canary rockfish will increase from one fish to two fish within the RCG daily bag limit of 10 fish, effective Saturday, April 14, 2018.

Limited retention of canary rockfish in California’s recreational fishery began last year as a result of the stock being declared rebuilt. Because retention of canary rockfish had been prohibited in recreational fisheries off California for more than a decade, a one fish daily sub-bag limit was implemented as a matter of precaution. Catches were monitored weekly to ensure harvest limits were not exceeded.

“We saw great fishing in 2017 and higher than expected effort for rockfish,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Joanna Grebel. “Despite this, catches of canary rockfish under a one fish bag limit were less than predicted. We are excited to be able to offer additional opportunity in 2018.”

Pursuant to California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.20(e), CDFW has the authority to make in-season modifications to the recreational fishery, including adjustments to bag and sub-bag limits.

CDFW encourages anglers to avoid known yelloweye rockfish hotspots when pursuing canary rockfish. Yelloweye rockfish cannot be retained and stringent annual limits on yelloweye rockfish bycatch mortality remain in effect for California’s recreational groundfish fishery in 2018. Bycatch mortality of yelloweye rockfish is monitored during the fishing season and modifications to regulations could be made if mortality amounts reach annual limits.

For more information regarding groundfish regulations, management, stock status information, fish identification tools and current catch trends, please visit the CDFW Marine Region Groundfish webpage at


Media Contacts:
Melanie Parker, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 649-2814

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Anglers Can Retain Canary Rockfish in 2017

Starting in 2017, anglers will be allowed to retain canary rockfish for the first time in more than a decade. Canary rockfish was declared overfished in 2000, but the population rebuilt to healthy levels quicker than anticipated based on a combination of conservation efforts and restrictive management.

“We are pleased to offer new opportunities based on the improved stock status of canary rockfish.” said Marci Yaremko, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) state/federal fisheries program manager. “Sweeping changes were made to help rebuild the stock – prohibiting retention, shortening fishing seasons, closing deep-water fishing areas and encouraging widespread use of descending devices to improve survival for released fish. These sacrifices are finally paying off.”

The California Fish and Game Commission adopted changes to the state’s recreational groundfish fishing regulations in December, including allowing retention of canary rockfish. The new regulations are effective as of Feb. 7.

The open season dates and allowable fishing depths for each of the recreational Groundfish Management areas are as follows:

  • Northern – Open May 1 through Oct. 31 in 30 fathoms (180 feet) or less; Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 with no depth restriction
  • Mendocino – Open May 1 through Oct. 31 in 20 fathoms (120 feet) or less; Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 with no depth restriction
  • San Francisco – Open April 15 through Dec. 31 in 40 fathoms (240 feet) or less
  • Central – Open April 1 through Dec. 31 in 50 fathoms (300 feet) or less
  • Southern – Open March 1 through Dec. 31 in 60 fathoms (360 feet) or less

The 20 fathom depth restriction is described by the general depth contour. The 30, 40, 50 and 60 fathom depth contours are defined by straight lines connecting the waypoints as adopted in federal regulations (50 CFR Part 660, Subpart G).

New statewide changes include:

  • A new sub-bag limit of one canary rockfish within the 10-fish Rockfish, Cabezon and Greenling (RCG) Complex bag limit
  • A decrease in the sub-bag limit of black rockfish from five to three within the 10-fish RCG Complex bag limit
  • Elimination of the sub-bag limit of bocaccio within the 10-fish RCG Complex bag limit
  • A decrease in the lingcod bag limit from three to two fish
  • Allowance of petrale sole and starry flounder to be retained year round at all depths

Take and possession of bronzespotted rockfish, cowcod and yelloweye rockfish will remain prohibited statewide.

For more detailed information about recreational groundfish regulations and to stay informed of in-season changes, please call the Recreational Groundfish Hotline at (831) 649-2801 or check CDFW’s Marine Region Groundfish Central website at .


Media Contacts:
Joanna Grebel, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 601-2279

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

DFG Announces Changes to 2012 Ocean Sportfishing Regulations from Point Conception to the Mexico Border Effective Nov. 1

The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is limiting fishing depths in the Southern Groundfish Management Area to reduce interactions with cowcod. DFG’s action follows a recommendation made by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) at its September meeting.

DFG has determined that cowcod take is projected to exceed the federal limit established for the non-trawl sector, which includes the recreational and commercial fixed gear fisheries, in 2012, unless in-season action is taken. Therefore pursuant to Section 27.20 of Title 14, DFG is limiting recreational groundfish fishing depths to 50 fathoms (300 feet) in the Southern Groundfish Management Area (34°27′ north latitude to the Mexico Border) effective on Nov. 1, 2012.

Cowcod are one of the largest rockfish species reaching a length of 37 inches and weight of 29 pounds; they range in color from orange to pale pink/white.

Cowcod cannot be taken or possessed by sport anglers in California. Possession was prohibited to facilitate rebuilding the stock when it was declared overfished in 1999. However, they are incidentally taken on occasion when anglers are targeting other species. By limiting bottom fishing activity for target species to only shallower depths it is anticipated that incidental take of cowcod will be reduced.

“Allowable take limits for cowcod are the lowest of all the West Coast groundfish managed by PFMC and these low limits pose the greatest constraint to Southern California anglers and a significant challenge to fishery managers,” said Paul Hamdorf, Acting DFG Marine Region Manager. “Implementing a 50-fathom depth constraint is expected to keep cowcod impacts within allowable limits and maintain conservation goals, while still providing anglers with fishing opportunities through the end of the year.”

Since being declared overfished, DFG and the Fish and Game Commission have worked closely with PFMC and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to implement protective measures for cowcod, including closing critical habitat (i.e., Cowcod Conservation Area) and prohibiting retention in most fisheries. Cowcod primarily occur in depths greater than 50 fathoms in Southern California, and are slow-growing and long-lived.

For more information regarding recreational groundfish regulations and to stay informed of in-season regulation changes, please call the Recreational Groundfish Fishing Regulation Hotline at (831) 649-2801, or visit the DFG Marine Region website at

Media Contacts:

John Budrick, DFG Marine Region, (650) 413-1501
Joanna Grebel, DFG Marine Region, (831) 649-2804
Andrew Hughan, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8944