Marine Management News Fish Identification Quiz
January 2009

January 2009 Fish Quiz

This fish is unusual in that it is born fully formed and functional- a miniature of its parents- with up to 45 siblings during the birthing period from spring through early fall in California waters. Pregnant females seek out sheltered estuaries and protected embayments to give birth to an average of 27 young.

This species is predominantly a surf-dweller off sandy beaches, but has also been taken in rocky areas adjacent to sandy beaches and off the mouths of rivers and streams entering the sea. It is also commonly found in protected nearshore areas during the spawning season.

The preferred depth range for this fish is from the surface to 60 ft. Its geographic range extends from Vancouver Island, Canada to Avila Beach, California (San Luis Obispo County), but it is most abundant from Monterey Bay northward. It is the only marine species in this family group whose range does not extend southward into Baja California.

Males of this species are sexually mature at two years of age, while females reach maturity at four years. Mating takes place during the fall and winter months, and females may store sperm for up to three months before fertilization takes place. This species reaches a maximum length of just over 17 inches. Anglers often land fish weighing 1½ to 2 lb., and 3 lb. fish are not uncommon.

Both commercial and sport fisheries exist for this species in California. Landings in both fisheries have declined over the years, and regulations have been enacted to help stabilize populations.

The commercial fishery for this species, which is centered around the Crescent City/Eureka area, regularly closes from May 1 through July 15 each year- during the birthing season- and has done so since 1913.

This is the only species in this family group with a minimum size limit for the recreational fishery. The 10½ in. minimum size limit has been in place since 2002. In San Francisco and San Pablo bays, recreational take of this species and others in the family group is specially regulated by a reduced daily bag limit. The fishery for this group is also closed within the bays between April 1 and July 31 each year (except for one small, "shiny" exception).

This fish is a redtail surfperch, Amphistichus rhodoterus. The special daily bag and possession limit for redtail surfperch in San Pablo and San Francisco bays is 5 fish, while outside the bays the limit is 10 redtail surfperch (see Section 28.59).