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Event Article: Rockfishing in Central California

Central California Rockfishing: Locations, Tackle, and tips on how to catch

Date: 2/03/08
Region: Central California
Season: Varies yearly
Reviewer: JIP


Introduction: While many freshwater anglers are gearing up for spring bass fishing saltwater anglers are already beginning to anticipate the upcoming rockcod season, and while its still may be months away many West Coast anglers are starting to prep there boats and gear. Rockfishing is one of the largest fisheries along the California Central Coast region with many anglers targeting over 70 different species and sub-species of rockfish along the coastline. In this article we'll provide you with tips on how to catch rockcod and lingcod, tackle to use, and other important information to ensure a quality rockfishing experience.


Along the coast of California there are more than 70 species of rockcod. One must learn how to identify these fish. This is a Black rockcod as you can tell the anal fin is rounded


Rockfish: Rockfish (Sebastidae) is a family of marine fish in the order Scorpaeniformes. Many refer to them as rockcod, groundfish, California nearshore reef fish, bottomfish, Pacific red snapper, just to name a few. Sebastes is a genus of rockfish that are most abundant along our coastline, and because there are a huge number of sub-species and similarities in appearance they are the most difficult type of identify.


JIP displaying two Vermilion rockfish


Decades ago these fish were plentiful along the coastline but due to over-fishing some of the slower growing species have plummeted dramatically and are now among protected species. Here's a list of the most commonly caught rockfish today from San Francisco down to Half Moon Bay all the way to Monterey Bay: Black rockcod, Blue rockcod, Brown rockcod, Copper rockcod, Gopher rockcod, China rockcod, Black and Yellow rockcod, Grass rockcod, Olive rockcod, Vermilion rockcod, Kelp Greeling, Cabezon, and the Lingcod.


Lingcods are mean looking fish and gives a good fight


Groundfish Regulations: I remember when I was a kid, my dad and I would jump onto party boats going out of Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, California and would load up on rockcod after a short boat ride. At that time fish were plentiful and there weren't tight regulations. For example, prior to 1981 the bag limit on Lingcod was ten without a size restriction. In 2007 the bag limits for Lingcods was two fish at 24 inches each for the Central California Region which stretches from a little South of Cape Mendocino to Point Conception, and these limits can change a few times throughout a single season. Other restrictions that were added due to the decline of rockfish are the depth anglers can fish at, the amount of hooks per line, bag limits for rockcod, no-take species, and now there are protected zones where it's closed to all angling. Today anglers going rockfishing should always check groundfish regulations prior to each trip.


Seasicknes and his dream team fishing the shallows for rockfish

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