Rockfish Depth Restriction
The good news for SoCal anglers is that the California DFW recently opened a lot of new water to rockfishing. Starting on March 1st, anglers were allowed to fish in up to 40 fathoms (240-feet) of water within the Cowcod Conservation Area (CCA) and up to 75 fathoms (450-feet) outside the CCA. The bad news is that the regulations are not as simple as they appear.
According to the new restrictions when fishing within the CCA, “take is prohibited seaward of the 40 fathom depth contour (240-feet), as defined in Federal regulations (50 CFR Part 660, Subpart C)” and when outside it, “take is prohibited seaward of the 75 fathom depth contour (450-feet), defined in Federal regulations (50 CFR Part 660, Subpart C)”. What this means is that to be fishing legally you are going to need to be inside an invisible line drawn between to predetermined coordinates. If you’re over the line you’re going to get a ticket, even if you’re fishing in water that is of legal depth.
To make things a little easier to figure out the Sportfishing Association of California (SAC) has built a website that gives easy access to all of the coordinates you’ll need to stay legal. I used those coordinates to mock up a couple of charts to show what this will look like.
This photo has the waypoints plugged in from the Santa Monica Bay to down below Newport and as you can see, the line is anything but straight so you’re really going to need to be aware of where you’re fishing if you want to stay legal.
This chart shows the legal area around Santa Barbara Island. It’s simpler but the basic shape cuts out quite a bit of water that’s within the legal depth. Every island in the Southern California Bight has similar coordinates around it that you must stay within to be legal. There are also coordinates for the Cortes and Tanner Banks, but other banks, like the 14 and the Osborn, don’t have coordinates and as a result are off-limits to fishing.
For simplicity sake, and ease of entering the 148 waypoints that form the boundaries (between Point Conception and the Mexico Border), I’ve entered them into my Navionics App. I will later sync the app with my chart plotter so that the waypoints will be there as well, but what’s nice about having them on a separate screen is that I can easily identify them without sorting through the clutter of fishing spot waypoints on my plotter. Since the Navionics App works even when my phone is in airplane mode I can use it when fishing islands, like the dirt clod, that don’t have cell service.
Entering the waypoints into the app is very easy and I’ve taken some cell phone screen shots to show you how it’s done.
Step 1: Tap on the magnifying glass in the upper left hand corner of the screen.
Step 2: Tap on Lat/Long
Step 3: Enter latitude and longitude. The Navionics App gives the option for 3 digits after the final decimal point but the regs only use 2 digits so you can set the last number to zero. Once finished tap “Show on Map”.
Step 4: Tap light blue dot.
Step 5: Tap thumb tack icon in the upper left corner and choose the icon you want from the drop down menu. I like the house because it’s red and really stands out. Then tap “Add”
It’s as easy as that. One waypoint down and 147 to go. Now get out there and catch some rockfish!