Sport Fishing Regulations

Forthcoming Supplements

A supplement updating the regulations contained in the regulations booklet may be released in May of each year. The supplement updates the ocean and inland salmon regulations and any regulations that have changed since the publication of the current regulation booklets. The supplement will not contain the complete set of regulations contained in the Freshwater and Marine Sport Fishing Regulation Booklets.

How To Use The FRESHWATER Sport Fishing Regulation Booklet

Start by reading through the Table of Contents: find and refer to the topic and page that interests you. License information is found on page 8 of the booklet, and definitions are found on pages 9-12 of the booklet. Pages 13-25 contain general statewide regulations for fishing and frogging in inland waters; this is an important section to review. Specific trout or salmon regulations are listed alphabetically by district beginning on page 27. Be sure to read the instructions on page 4. Many amphibians and reptiles are protected. For information on these species, see pages 18 and 20-22. Regulations for ocean fishing are found in the Marine Sport Fishing Regulation Booklet. If you need further information about the regulations, or have general questions, contact the nearest office of the Department of Fish and Wildlife at:

Northern Region

601 Locust Street, Redding 96001
(530) 225-2300

Eureka Field Office
619 Second Street, Eureka 95501
(707) 445-6493

North Central Region

1701 Nimbus Road, Rancho Cordova 95670
(916) 358-2900

(The Rancho Cordova office does not issue Commercial Fishing Licenses.)

Bay Delta Region

7329 Silverado Trail, Napa 94558
(707) 944-5500

Stockton Field Office
4001 N. Wilson Way, Stockton 94205
(209) 948-7800

Central Region

1234 East Shaw Avenue, Fresno 93710
(559) 243-4005

South Coast Region

3883 Ruffin Road, San Diego 92123
(858) 467-4201

Los Alamitos Field Office
4665 Lampson Ave., Suite C, Los Alamitos 90720
(562) 342-7100

Inland Deserts Region

3602 Inland Empire Blvd., Suite C-220, Ontario 91764
(909) 484-0167
(Licenses are not sold at this office)

Marine Region

20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Suite 100, Monterey 93940
(831) 649-2870


License and Revenue Branch

1740 North Market Blvd., Sacramento 95834
(916) 928-5805


1416 Ninth Street, 12th Floor, Sacramento, 95814
Box 944209, Sacramento 94244-2090
(916) 445-0411

Department of Fish and Wildlife

web page at

Ocean Salmon Hotline
(707) 576-3429

Groundfish Hotline
(831) 649-2801


License Information

Possession of License

Section 700. (Title 14, California Code of Regulations). (a) Possession of Sport Fishing License: Every person, while engaged in taking any fish, amphibian or reptile, shall have a valid sport fishing license on their person in their immediate possession, except when diving as provided in Section 7145 of the Fish and Game Code.

Persons diving from a boat or shore may have their license on the boat or within 500 yards of shore, respectively (see Fish and Game Code Section 7145).  

Regulations provide that a person may purchase a hunting or sport fishing license, tags, or stamps for another person, as long as the licensee's customer identification number issued from ALDS and date of birth are provided. Any person who wishes to purchase an annual hunting license or annual sport fishing license for another person but does not have available the information required for that purchase may be allowed to purchase a voucher for said license.

 License Provisions

Anyone 16 years and older must have a fishing license to take any kind of fish, mollusk, invertebrate, amphibian or crustacean in California, except for persons angling from a public pier in ocean or bay waters. A license is required to take reptiles, except for rattlesnakes.

Additional stamps and cards are required to fish in certain areas or to target certain species. Children under 16 years of age are not required to have a sport fishing license or any stamps, however, they must possess any applicable report cards. Anglers who are not required to have a sport fishing license, such as anglers who are under 16 years of age, anglers who will be fishing from a public pier in ocean or bay waters, and anglers who will be fishing on Free Fishing Days, are required to have report cards to fish for: abalone; spiny lobster; sturgeon; steelhead; and salmon in the Smith River, the Klamath River, the Trinity River, and their tributaries.

Only a basic fishing license is required to take amphibians, reptiles (except rattlesnakes) or any fish or for fishing in the ocean north of Point Arguello, Santa Barbara County. An Ocean Enhancement Stamp is required for ocean fishing south of Point Arguello except when fishing under authority of a one-day or two-day sport fishing license.

A North Coast Salmon Report Card is required for all anglers taking salmon in the Smith River System or the Klamath-Trinity River system, including persons who are not required to have a sport fishing license, such as persons who are under 16 years of age, and persons who are fishing on Free Fishing Days.

A Steelhead Report Card is required for persons taking steelhead in inland waters, including persons who are not required to have a sport fishing license, such as persons who are under 16 years of age, and persons who are fishing on Free Fishing Days.

An Abalone Report Card is required for any person taking abalone from ocean waters between the center of the mouth of the San Francisco Bay and the California-Oregon border, including persons who are not required to have a sport fishing license, such as persons who are under 16 years of age, persons fishing from a public pier, and persons who are fishing on Free Fishing Days.

A Sturgeon Fishing Report Card is required for all anglers taking sturgeon, including persons who are not required to have a sport fishing license, such as persons who are under 16 years of age, and persons who are fishing on Free Fishing Days.

A Spiny Lobster Report Card is required for all anglers taking spiny lobster, including persons who are not required to have a sport fishing license, such as persons who are under 16 years of age, persons who are fishing from a public pier, and persons who are fishing on Free Fishing Days.

The license year is the calendar year.

The Two-Day Sport Fishing License is valid for two consecutive designated calendar days and may be used in inland and ocean waters. A One-Day Sport Fishing License is valid in both inland and ocean waters. (Anglers do not have to buy an ocean enhancement stamp with the purchase of this license).

A resident is defined as any person who has resided continuously in California for six months or more immediately before the date of application for a license, or persons on active military duty with the armed forces of the United States or an auxiliary branch or Job Corps enrollees.

Colorado River Validation is discontinued for 2014. Anglers who possess either a valid California sport fishing license or a valid Arizona sport fishing license can fish from either shore of the portion of the Colorado River that makes up the California-Arizona boundary.

Anyone 16 years or older fishing anywhere in Lake Tahoe or Topaz Lake must possess either a California fishing license or a Nevada fishing license. (Nevada also requires a trout stamp.)

Information concerning license requirements and fees may be obtained from license agents, or from any Department of Fish and Wildlife office.

A license or permit application shall indicate the correct mailing address of the applicant. The mailing of any notice required by law in connection with such license or permit shall be deemed sufficient if addressed to the last current address on file with the Department.

Fish, mollusks, crustaceans, amphibians and reptiles taken under authority of a sport fishing license may not be bartered or sold.

All fish, mollusks, crustaceans, amphibians and reptiles, and any device or apparatus capable of being used to take them, and all licenses, must be exhibited upon demand of any authorized officer.

 Refund Policy

Refunds will not be issued for sport fishing licenses, stamps and report cards. These items are considered valid and in use from the date issued and, therefore, are nonrefundable.

For further information, contact the License and Revenue Branch at (916) 928-5805.

Free and Reduced-fee Licenses

The Department offers free and reduced-fee fishing licenses to eligible persons. For example, reduced-fee fishing licenses are available to certain low-income seniors at least 65 years of age; honorably-discharged veterans with a service-connected disability of at least 50 percent; and recovering service members. Free fishing licenses are available to eligible persons who are blind; low-income American Indians; developmentally disabled persons; and residents who are so severely physically disabled that they are permanently unable to move from place to place without the use of a wheelchair, walker, forearm crutches, or a comparable mobility-related device. Proof of eligibility for all free and reduced-fee licenses is required. For more information about reduced-fee and free fishing licenses, contact the nearest Department of Fish and Wildlife license sales office.

 Lifetime License Provides

• Protection against future fee increases due to inflation.

• Convenience of receiving licenses, regulations and other information by mail.

• Pride in knowing you are contributing toward a permanent, reliable source of funding for the protection and preservation of fish and wildlife.

Age Lifetime Fishing License
Birth to 9 years $510.25
10 to 39 years $833.50
40 to 61 years $751.25
62 and older $510.25

Lifetime licensees can also buy the following package and save even more money while helping wildlife conservation:

Additional Fishing Privileges. Fee: $345.25--Includes one second-rod validation, North Coast Salmon report card, steelhead report card, and ocean enhancement validation each year for life.


Lifetime Licenses—An investment in the future of wildlife.
Available from the DFG's License and Revenue Branch in Sacramento.
Call (916) 928-5805.

License Fees
Fees valid 1-1-2014 through 12-31-2014


Resident sport fishing license $46.44
Nonresident sport fishing license $124.77
Duplicate (Annual licenses only) $10.29
One-day resident/nonresident sport fishing license*** $14.86
Two-day resident/non-resident sport fishing license** $23.25
Ten-day nonresident sport fishing license* $46.44
Second-Rod Validation (Allows an angler to fish with two rods in inland waters, except those waters in which only artificial lures or barbless hooks may be used. $14.30
Ocean Enhancement Validation - Annual $5.14
Colorado River Special Use Validation -DISCONTINUED  
North Coast Salmon Report Card (All waters of the Smith River System or the Klamath-Trinity River system) $6.22
Steelhead Report Card $7.05
Abalone Report Card $22.17
Spiny Lobster Report Card $9.46
Sturgeon Fishing Report Card $8.13


*Valid for ten consecutive calendar days
**Can be purchased by residents or nonresidents, and valid for two consecutive calendar days.
***Can be purchased by residents or nonresidents.

If you lose your sport fishing license visit any license agent, or Department license sales office to obtain a low cost duplicate.  Duplicate Abalone Report Cards and Sturgeon Report Cards may only be purchased at Department license sales offices.


Sport fish may present a health hazard when eaten due to natural and industrial chemicals in their flesh, especially when they are consumed often over a long time. Although the chemical levels found in sport fish are usually low, harmful levels do occur in some locations. The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) provides consumption advice.

These advisories are not intended to discourage you from eating fish. Fish are nutritious and an excellent source of low-fat protein. The advisories should be followed to make your sport fish eating safer.

OEHHA can provide more information on the advisories and the health effects of chemical contaminants in the fish. An illustrated brochure can be requested in several languages. Please note that the specific advisories may be revised or new ones added. To stay current, and to request additional information, please see the OEHHA website at or contact the Pesticide and Environmental Toxicology Section (PETS) of OEHHA in Sacramento at (916) 327-7319 or in Oakland at (510) 622-3170, or write to us at PETS/OEHHA, 1515 Clay St., 16th Floor, Oakland, CA, 94612. OEHHA publications are also available on the Internet at


Cities, counties, and other local land management authorities may require permits and impose other access/trespass restrictions in addition to the restrictions in the Sport Fishing Regulations. It is the responsibility of the angler to be aware of and comply with these local rules.

for California In-River Fishery

Coho (silver) salmon may not be taken in any of the waters of the State, except in Lake Oroville, the Oroville-Thermalito Complex (Diversion Pool, Forebay, and Afterbay), and the Feather River from the Diversion Pool Dam to the Fish Barrier Dam. Incidentally hooked coho (silver) salmon from all other waters must be immediately released unharmed to the waters where they are hooked.