Rock Cod Fishing in Bodega Bay Opens for 2011

Rock Cod Fishing

The California Department of Fish and Game announced that rock fishing off Bodega bay opened on June 11th.  The scheduled opening date was originally June 13th.  Sport Anglers can look forward to a rock fish season that lasts through December, creating an extended period compared to recent years.

Bodega Bay is a great place to go fishing for many different types of fish. If you are from out of the State, or just coming from warmer inland areas like Sacramento, Bodega Bay is a great choice for sport fishing. Bodega Bay lies in the “North-Central South of Point Arena” Management Area of the Department of Fish and Game.

There are many Fishing Charters in Bodega Bay that take out several people at a time for different types of fishing. This article is hosted by a Vacation Rental in Bodega Bay called and we have Links to the Fishing Charters in Bodega Bay under our Resources tab in the main menu. These fishing charters take people out to catch Rock Cod, salmon, halibut, and crab. There are many species of Rock Cod, and it is important to know which species are safe to keep, and which are endangered. Under the 2011 Department of Fish and Game regulations.

Sport fishermen can take 10 Rock Cod per day. Of the 10 fish a fisherman catches in a day they can only keep 2 Cabezon, 2 Kelp Greenlings (or Rock Greenlings) and 2 Bocaccio. Limits on Lingcod are 2 fish per day and minimum size is 24 inches measured from the tip of the head to the tip of the tail (total length).

All Rock fish must be caught in waters less than 120 feet of depth. Rock Fish like to hang out around underwater structures, such as rocky outcropping or sea mounts. Sometimes Lingcod can be found cruising over sandy bottoms, but it is a much better idea to use your sonar to find quality bottom structure.

Endangered Species of Rock Cod

yellow_eyeThe Department of Fish and Game has a fine for hundreds of dollars for each fish caught illegally. If you are with one of the Bodega Bay Charters you will have a Capitan or deck-hand to help you identify if the fish you caught is legal or not.

One important species that may not be retained is the Yelloweye or “Red” Rock Cod. In Alaska they are called Goldeneye Rockfish. They are usually red or orange-red in color and are also identified with a spiny space between the eyes, black edges on all the fins, a rounded tail fin, and golden-yellow eyes. The juveniles of Goldeneye Rockfish have two horizontal white stripes that fade with age.

Canary Rockfish are also under the protection of the Department of Fish and Game. canaryThey look very similar to Vermilion Rockfish, so it is important to know how to tell them apart. An easy way to tell if you have caught a Canary is by rubbing the chin of the fish, from the gills to the mouth opening. If the scales feel smooth you have a Canary, but if you are rubbing against the grain of the scales and it feels rough then you have a Vermilion Rockfish which is legal. Another way to distinguish between these two species is by their lateral line. A Canary Rockfish has a colorless lateral line, but a gray-white band beneath that extends from the head to the tail. Vermilion Rockfish have color in the lateral line, and no gray-white band from head to tail.   Additionally, the tail fin of a Canary Rock Cod has a slight indentation in the center, making a slight V shape, where the Vermilion Rockfish has a straight tail fin. The two other protected species in California are Cowcod and Bronzespotted Rockfish, but these species are not found in Bodega Bay.

Proper Release of Rockfish with Barotrauma

If a Canary Rockfish or Yelloweye Rockfish is caught it is important to properly release the fish to ensure its survival.  

Rockfish have swim bladders that fill up with gas as you reel them to the surface.  As the water pressure decreases the volume of gas inside the swim bladder increases and pushes the stomach of the fish until it protrudes out of its mouth.  Once the fish is at the ocean surface it can be very difficult to swim back down to the bottom.  It is a myth that the swim bladder protrudes from the mouth of the fish; it is actually the stomach of the fish, and it can severly endanger the fish if a fisherman punctures the stomach or forces it back down into the fishes mouth.  It is also important to understand that the "barotrauma" caused by the expansion of the swim bladder is not lethal to the fish, and that a fish can survive the most severe barotaumatic events.  

According to the Department of Fish and Game rock fish release web page the proper release of a rockfish with barotrauma can be obtained through one of two methods.  The first method involves the use a 60 foot rope and an upside down milk crate to force the fish down to the depths.  The second method is a technique that involves a specialized barbless hook and  weight.  This is a tool that every sport fisherman should have on board to prevent killing rock fish.  Check out this website from Shelton Products to learn more about this hook method.  You can also create your own method as long as you do not hurt the fish.