Woman dressed warmly in camouflage and standing in marsh reeds aims a shotgun into the air

General Information

The San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) consists of more than 21,000 acres located along the northern edge of San Pablo Bay in northern California. Waterfowl hunting is allowed on 10,216 acres in the open waters of the San Pablo Bay and its navigable tidal sloughs (unless otherwise posted in the field) and in the Cullinan Ranch and Dickson Ranch Units. Check the California Waterfowl Regulations each year for dates. Hunters must comply with all State and Federal regulations including the Refuge specific regulations listed under 50 CFR 32.24, and the regulations described below.


Scroll to the bottom for the San Pablo Bay NWR hunt maps. 

Permit Requirements

Hunters 18 years of age or older will need to have: 1) a valid California hunting license; 2) a valid, signed Federal Duck Stamp; 3) a California Duck Validation; 4) a Harvest Information Program (HIP) Validation; and 5) identification that includes a photograph (e.g., driver’s license). Junior and Youth hunters need the following:

Boat Access

Hunters have a limited number of access points for launching their boats. Launch sites for motorized boats are located at Black Point Boat Launch, Vallejo Marina, and at Hudeman Slough (north of Skaggs Island on Skaggs Island Road). There are also two canoe and kayak launches located on the Refuge; one at Dickson Ranch and one at Cullinan Ranch. Hunters may launch only human-powered vessels at these two sites. For a map of the two canoe launch sites, click here. Larger motorized boats need to be launched at a local marina.

Boat Registration

Any sail-powered vessel over eight feet in length and every motor-driven vessel (regardless of length) that is used or moored on California waterways (including private lakes/ponds) must be registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles or Documented by the U.S. Coast Guard. Specific requirements and the application form can be found with the California DMV. Both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife will be enforcing this requirement. If a boat is propelled by oars or paddles, or if it is a non-motorized sailboat that is eight feet or less in length, it does not need to be registered with the California DMV.

It is also important to be aware of all State and Federal boating laws and safety guidelines as approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. More information can be found on the NASBLA website.

Waterfowl Hunting Dates

Ducks: October 21 – January 31

Scaup: November 7 – January 31

Daily bag limit: 7/day, which may include: 7 mallards (no more than 2 females), 1 pintail, 2 canvasback, 2 redheads, 2 scaup. Possession limit is triple the daily bag.

Geese: Early Season (Large CAGO only): September 30 – October 2

Regular Season: October 21 – January 28.

Late Season: CAGO February 17 –18. Whitefronts and White geese February 17 – February 21

Daily bag limit: 30/day, which may include: 20 white geese, 10 dark geese. Possession limit is triple the daily bag.

Youth Hunt dates: February 3 – 4

Veteran and Active Military Personnel dates: February 10 – 11 

Daily bag limit: Same as regular season.

Waterfowl Hunting Regulations

  1. We allow hunting of goose, duck, and coot on designated areas of the Refuge in accordance with State regulations.
  2. Waterfowl hunting is allowed from one half-hour before sunrise to sunset. For shoot times see: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations
  3. We allow hunting in the open waters of San Pablo Bay and its navigable sloughs (unless posted in the field and/or noted below) and in the Cullinan Ranch and Dickson Ranch Units.
  4. A 450-foot (150-yard) “No Hunting” zone (retrieval OK) is located adjacent to trails and roadways in the Cullinan Ranch and Dickson Ranch Units to increase the safety and enjoyment of other users.
  5. Hunting is allowed on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays in Cullinan Ranch and Dickson Ranch Units. Hunting is allowed 7 days a week in the open bay and sloughs.
  6. Hunters are advised to navigate their boats through the deeper channels or navigate in other sections of the Cullinan Ranch and Dickson Ranch Units at higher tides to avoid getting stuck on the muddy bottom.
  7. Hunters are advised to use caution while navigating the strong tidal currents at the levee breaches in Cullinan Ranch and Dickson Ranch Units.
  8. You may only access hunt areas from a boat. We prohibit walk-in hunting on the refuge (walking into sites and shooting from levees or adjacent land).
  9. Waterfowl hunting on the Refuge is allowed from both motorized and non-motorized boats. Boats will be permitted to travel within the sloughs and open Bay without speed limitation, but should minimize speed while in the Cullinan Ranch Unit and Dickson Ranch Unit to reduce erosive effects of waves to the shorelines and levees as well as to minimize disturbance to wildlife in the area.
  10. Launching of boats and access to the Bay or sloughs from Refuge property is prohibited unless in designated boat launch sites (Cullinan Ranch and Dickson Ranch).
  11. Hunters may pull their boats onto the interior side of the Cullinan Ranch and Dickson Ranch Unit levees that are within the hunting zone to hunt. Hunters may also pull their boats onto the interior marsh mounds to hunt. Hunters should attempt to minimize any impacts to tidal marsh vegetation. Hunting adjacent to moored boats is allowed. 
  12. Hunters will be allowed to use hunting dogs or other methods of retrieval, including getting out of their boats to retrieve downed birds. Again, hunters are advised to use caution regarding muddy conditions at lower tides.
  13. The following units are closed to hunting: Sonoma Baylands Unit; Lower Tubbs Island Unit; and Lower Tubbs Setback Unit. These units provide habitat on the Refuge for endangered species and sanctuary habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds.
  14. Hunters may enter closed areas of the refuge, no hunting zones, and sanctuary areas to retrieve downed birds.
  15. You may only possess approved nontoxic shotshells. You cannot possess lead shot while hunting waterfowl.
  16. There is no shot shell limit while hunting in the refuge.   
  17. You must remove all decoys, boats, and other personal property from the refuge at the end of each day. Hunters must remove all trash, including shotgun shells, when leaving hunting areas.
  18. We only allow dogs engaged in hunting activities on the refuge during waterfowl season. We prohibit other domesticated animals or pets. Hunters must keep their dog(s) under their immediate control at all times. We prohibit training of dogs on the refuge.
  19. We prohibit digging into levees or slough channels.
  20. We prohibit target practice on the refuge or any non-hunting discharge of firearms.
  21. Persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuges must comply with all provisions of state and local law. Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with refuge regulations (50 CFR 27.42 and specific refuge regulations in 50 CFR Part 32).


Report accidents or injuries occurring on the Refuge to:

Melisa Amato, Refuge Manager at melisa_amato@fws.gov or (510) 377-9229

Emergencies call 911

Report Refuge violations                                              Report Poachers

U.S. Park Police Dispatch                                                CalTIP – Californians Turn In Poachers

(415) 561-5510                                                                 1-888-DFG-CALTIP

Stay Up To Date via Email

If you would like to be on the San Pablo Bay NWR hunter email distribution list, please email melisa_amato@fws.gov. We try to send information regarding hunting or other alerts in a timely manner to help you plan your hunt.