What comes to mind when you think about fishing? Patience, relaxation, challenge, and memories are a few words often associated with fishing. You will find all that and a sense of stewardship, conservation, and preservation on this page. We want you to have an enjoyable time during your visit, and for those who come after you to fish. Take some time to explore, learn what the park has to offer and learn your responsibilities before casting a line or flicking a fly into the water.
Point Reyes National Seashore allows fishing as a means of providing for public enjoyment, and customary and traditional use, and regulates fishing to ensure that it is managed in a manner that avoids unacceptable impacts to park resources.
A valid California fishing license is required to fish in the park, and fees vary. Children under 16 years of age do not require a license. Visitors fishing within Point Reyes National Seashore must follow the fishing license requirements in accordance with the laws and regulations of the California State Fish and Wildlife regulations.
Unless otherwise provided for, fishing regulations apply to all finfish found in both fresh and saltwater, and mollusks and crustaceans found in saltwater (shellfish). Other taxa, including amphibians, and freshwater mollusks and crustaceans (e.g. waterdogs, crayfish) are not considered "fish" for the purpose of NPS fishing regulations and are addressed by NPS regulations governing "wildlife" (36CFR2.2).
These fishing regulations apply, regardless of land ownership, on all lands and waters within the park that are under the legislative jurisdiction of the United States.
Per the Code of Federal Regulations Title 36 Chapter I Part 2 Section 2.3, fishing shall be in accordance with the laws and regulations of the State of California except as provided below. Where there is a conflict between a state regulation and a federal (NPS) regulation, the state regulation is superseded by the federal regulation.
For state fishing regulations, please visit the California State Fish and Wildlife regulations website.
The following are prohibited:
Except as otherwise designated, fishing with a net, spear, or weapon in the salt waters of park areas shall be in accordance with State law.
Regulations specific to Point Reyes
The following regulations apply only within Point Reyes National Seashore.
Fishing is allowed on most park beaches and freshwater lakes and ponds.
To better protect endangered and/or threatened species of fish or to preserve critical habitat, fishing is prohibited in:
Fish Consumption Advisories in National Park Waters
The Environmental Protection Agency, states, territories, and tribes provide advice on fish and shellfish caught in the waters in their jurisdiction to help people make informed decisions about eating fish. Advisories are recommendations to limit your consumption of, or avoid eating entirely, certain species of fish or shellfish from specific bodies of water due to chemical or biological contamination.
Fish is part of a healthy balanced diet, but eating wild fish and shellfish caught in park waters is not risk free. Parks are "islands," but the much larger "ocean" that surrounds them affects the natural resources inside a park. Other aquatic toxins are the result of natural biological processes. Also, chemical contaminants that originate outside of park boundaries can come into parks.
Mercury is an example of a toxin originating outside a park that can find its way into a park. Mercury exists naturally in some rocks, including coal. When power plants burn coal, mercury can travel in the air long distances before falling to the ground, usually in low concentrations. Once on the ground, microorganisms can change this elemental mercury to methyl mercury. This type of mercury can build up in animal tissues, and it can increase in concentration to harmful levels. This high concentration can occur in large predatory fish—those often pursued and eaten by anglers. Studies have shown that fish in some National Park System waters have mercury levels that may be a concern to people who regularly eat a lot of fish.
Point Reyes National Seashore Fish Consumption Advisories
Fish from Tomales Bay have been found with high levels of mercury. The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (916-324-7572) publishes Safe Eating Guidelines for Fish and Shellfish from Tomales Bay. An advisory map and general advice can be found on their Fish page.
An annual mussel quarantine is normally in effect from May 1 through October 31. However, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) may begin the quarantine early, or extend it, if monitoring results indicate the presence of dangerous levels of biotoxins outside of the normal quarantine period. The quarantine is intended to protect the public from paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) and domoic acid poisoning (DAP). More information about the quarantine, PSP, and DAP may be found on the CDPH's Mussel Quarantine Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) web page.
Aquatic Invasive Species
Imagine your favorite fishing spot and the wonderful memories. Things may look fine but underneath the surface there is a serious threat. Everything you remembered is now cemented together in a sharp, smelly mess. Invaders have wiped out the fish species you used to catch.
Aquatic invasive species are not native to an ecosystem. Their introduction causes, or is likely to cause, harm to the economy, the environment, or to human health. Aquatic invasive species are a growing risk to parks and their values. In the United States alone, there are more than 250 non-native aquatic species.
For many centuries, humans have contributed to spreading non-native species around the globe. You can make a difference. To learn more about Aquatic Invasive Species in the National Park Service, visit the NPS Fish and Fishing website's Aquatic-Invasive Species page.
How You Can Help – Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers
As of 2021, fisheries biologists at Point Reyes are most concerned about the New Zealand mudsnail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum). It is an introduced aquatic species that has invaded estuaries, lakes, rivers, and streams in many states in the western U.S., including Lagunitas Creek and Redwood Creek in Marin County. It was first recorded in North America in the late 1980s in the Snake River and has since spread throughout the West.
The New Zealand mudsnail is a threat to our waters. By competing with native invertebrates for food and habitat, it has a detrimental impact on fish populations, vegetation, and other native biota.
Range expansion of the mudsnail has been unwittingly hastened by anglers, hunters, and field personnel—in other words, people who frequently move between streams and lakes in watersheds, hauling wet waders, nets, and other gear with them. The small size (< 5 mm), cryptic coloration, and ability to survive out of water for weeks make the New Zealand mudsnail an ideal hitchhiker. Once the mudsnail is established in a new habitat, it is impossible to eradicate it without damaging other components of the ecosystem. Thus, inspecting, removing, and treating gear before moving to a new water body is the most effective means of minimizing the spread of mudsnails.
Download Oregon Sea Grant's New Zealand Mudsnails: How to Prevent the Spread of New Zealand Mudsnails through Field Gear (1,206 KB PDF), on which the above text is based. This brochure is a guide for field detection and for treating field gear to prevent the spread of New Zealand mudsnails. It is intended for researchers, monitoring crews, watershed survey groups, and anyone else who travels frequently between aquatic or riparian locations, including fishers.
Tips from PlayCleanGo®
Check out the California State Department of Fish and Wildlife: Marine Region (707-576-2882) for Fishing Regulations, information about the Marine Life Protection Act, and Health Advisories for California Finfish, Shellfish, and Crustaceans.
Check with Marin County Environmental Health Services (415-473-6907) for Mussel Quarantine Orders and information about Tomales Bay water quality.
Consult the California State Water Resources Control Board (510-622-2300) for information about water quality.
Download a copy of the final report Health Advisory: Guidelines for Consumption of Fish and Shellfish from Tomales Bay (Marin County) (1.67 MB PDF) published in October 2004 by the California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. This report provides recommended guidelines for consumption of fish from Tomales Bay. [Please note: Consult OEHHA's Safe Eating Guidelines for Fish and Shellfish from Tomales Bay for current guidelines.] These guidelines are provided to the public as a result of findings of high levels of mercury in fish tested from Tomales Bay. These recommendations were developed to protect against possible adverse health effects that may result from consumption of mercury-contaminated fish. The report provides background information and a description of the data and criteria used to develop the guidelines.
Last updated: March 21, 2022