Canary Rockfish
Marine Zone

Offshore longleader gear

Longleader gear is used to target midwater species like yellowtail rockfish, canary rockfish and widow rockfish, while avoiding bottom-dwelling species like yelloweye rockfish.

What is offshore longleader gear?

Offshore longleader gear consists of (1) a minimum of 30 feet of line between the terminal weight (sinker) and the lowest hooks and (2) a non-compressible float above the top hook. Furthermore, lures must be less than 5 inches long, and natural bait is prohibited. (The illustration below is not to scale.)

A photo showing how to properly set up longleader gear

Supplies to make offshore longleader gear:

  • Two swivels (one above the float and one below the bottom hook)
  • One non-compressible float (for example, made of rigid plastic or cork - NOT Styrofoam) above the top hook that has sufficient buoyancy to support all hooking gear and line above the leader
  • Up to three shrimp flies or worms (below the non-compressible float and above the lower swivel) - NATURAL BAIT IS NOT ALLOWED
  • A weight (sinker) (the size will depend on drift, current and ocean conditions)
  • A minimum of 30 feet of line between the lower swivel and weight (sinker)

A photo of longleader gear ready to be deployed.

In the photo:

  • The yellow circle shows the non-compressible float.
  • The red circles show three shrimp flies.
  • The white bucket is used to contain the weight and 30-foot longleader. A bucket isn't required, but anglers find it helpful to contain the longleader and keep it from tangling when not in use.  


What is the offshore longleader fishery?

This fishery is an opportunity that uses longleader gear to target offshore midwater rockfish species while avoiding bottom-dwelling species like yelloweye rockfish. 

When and where is the offshore longleader fishery open?

  • Open only outside the 40-fathom regulatory line
  • Open year round

What is the bag limit? 

  • The daily bag limit for the offshore longleader fishery is 10 fish per angler
  • The only species allowed in the 10-fish bag limit are:  yellowtailwidowcanaryredstripegreenstripedsilvergraychilipepper, blue, deacon, and bocaccio rockfishes. (Blue rockfish and deacon rockfish were added beginning in 2019.)
  • Longleader species ID sheet (pdf)

Can I fish for lingcod, flatfish or other bottomfish on the same trip?

  • NO!  Lingcod, flatfish and other bottomfish are not allowed on board during an offshore longleader trip.
  • Anglers may return to shore, unload all rockfish from the longleader trip, and then go back out on a separate bottomfish trip for lingcod or flatfish.
  • Species listed under General Marine Species (e.g., black rockfish, quillback rockfish, kelp greenling, etc.) may be kept on a separate trip on the same day only if fewer than 10 fish were kept from the offshore longleader trip. In that case, anglers may keep up to the General Marine Species daily bag limit of 5 fish from a separate bottomfish trip, but the total from both trips can be no more than 10 General Marine Species per day.

Can I fish for Pacific halibut on the same trip?

  • NO. Pacific halibut are not allowed on board during an offshore longleader trip.
  • Anglers may return to shore, unload all rockfish from the longleader trip, and then go back out on a separate trip for Pacific halibut (in areas and times open for halibut). 

Can I combine any other fishing with offshore longleader fishing in one trip?

YES. Tuna, crab and salmon may be combined with an offshore longleader trip, as long as all gear, species and area rules are followed. You may not fish in an area closed for any species you have on board, and you may not use gear that is prohibited for any species you have on board. For example, once a salmon is on the boat, barbless hooks must be used.

Printable Offshore Longleader Gear and Fishery FAQs (pdf)

Header photo by Bob Swingle

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