Guidelines for Monday’s rockfish opener

Guidelines for Monday’s rockfish opener
They didn’t go away, we just weren’t fishing for them! So proved Joseph Green with The Codfather Fishing this week. They caught this bluefin tuna near the Farallons this week.

by Allen Bushnell

We’re getting closer to rockfish season opening up soon, and have a pretty solid idea of what it’s going to look like once it does. Salmon season is still unannounced officially, though there are indications the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will allow a few three or four-day windows for salmon fishing through the spring and summer 2024.


It’s kind of crazy that we can’t get solid information from CDFW by March 27, when the proposed rockfish opener is April 1. But, the latest “revised proposed regulations” from that agency are available online. For 2024, the Central management area that stretches from Pigeon Point south to Point Conception is being split at the 36-degree latitude line near Point Lopez, below Point Sur. The northern portion of Big Sur, Carmel, Monterey Bay and the North Coast areas of Santa Cruz County will feature the following regs for this years’ rockfish season.


April will be open to rockfishing beyond the 50 fathom line only (300 feet). From May through September rockfishing will only be allowed in the nearshore area, inside 20 fathoms (120 feet). October we can fish outside of 50 fathoms only, November inside of 20 fathoms only and December we can fish the outside again, but not inshore.


Bag limits are changing as well, with the likely limits of only two vermilion rockfish per day within your ten-fish limit. Halibut will keep the same minimum size of 22 inches for retention, but will limit out at two fish per day instead of three fish as we’ve been used to for years. Species that cannot be taken or retained this year include quillback rockfish, bronzespotted rockfish, cowcod and yelloweye rockfish. In addition, all boats must have a descender device onboard that allows for rapid release of rockfish at the depth they were taken. This will reduce the mortality rates for rockfish suffering barotrauma. The devices can be home made, and are readily available at your local tackle shop. 


The CDFW also is adopting a new license app for mobile devices. Many anglers keep a photo of their fishing license on their phone, but must rely on the good will of the particular Warden as to acceptance. The regulation is codified now, using the License App. The announcement stated, ”The new application allows residents and nonresidents to display sport fishing licenses and validations on their mobile phones and other mobile devices in lieu of a physical license. Users can download the application on their mobile devices through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store or by accessing the direct download links from CDFW’s License App web page."

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