San Francisco Bay Wildlife
Wildlife of the San Francisco Bay Area


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Fish of San Franscisco Bay Area

Fishes of SF Bay

American Shad
American Shad - Alosa sapidissima
Photo credit - Rene Reyes, Bureau of Reclamation

Three-spined Stickleback
Three-spined Stickleback - Gasterosteus aculeatus
Photo credit: JaySo83, Wikimedia Commons

Tidewater Goby
Tidewater Goby - Eucyclogobius newberryi
Photo Credit: Jessica Weinberg, NPS

Steelhead Trout
Steelhead Trout - Oncorhynchus mykiss

Tidewater Goby
Coho Salmon - Oncorhynchus kisutch
Photo Credit: Jessica Weinberg, NPS

Brown Bullhead
Brown Bullhead - Ictalurus nebulosus
Photo credit - Noel M. Burkhead - U.S. Geological Survey

Bluegill - Lepomis macrochirus (Shadow Cliffs)

You are usually close to water anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area. The bay itself and the ocean waters are home to a variety of fish, including different types of sharks, and rays. Shiner Surfperch are probably the most abundant fish around piers and pilings. Some common fish species of the South Bay include Bay Pipefish, Three-spined Stickleback, Northern Anchovy, Topsmelt Silverside, Pacific Staghorn Sculpin, Starry Flounder, Yellowfin Goby.

And the rivers and streams are host to many kinds of freshwater fishes.

Fish Found in Both Fresh and Saltwater

  1. Three-spined Stickleback - Gasterosteus aculeatus
  2. Sacramento Splittail - Pogonichthys macrolepidotus
  3. Prickly Sculpin - Cottus asper
  4. Pacific Staghorn Sculpin - Leptocottus armatus
  5. Arrow Goby - Clevelandia ios
  6. Yellowfin Goby - Acanthogobius flavimanus (Non-native)
  7. Tidewater Goby - Eucyclogobius newberryi
  8. Longjaw Mudsucker - Gillichthys mirabilis
  9. Chameleon Goby - Tridentiger trigonocephalus (Non-native)
  10. Starry Flounder - Platichthys stellatus

Some Saltwater/Tidal Fish

  1. Sharks, Rays and Skates
  2. Ocean Sunfish - Mola mola
  3. Pacific Bluefin Tuna - Thunnus orientalis
  4. American Shad - Alosa sapidissima (Non-native)
  5. Pacific Herring - Clupea pallasii
  6. Threadfin Shad - Dorosoma petenense (Non-native)
  7. South American Pilchard (Pacific Sardine) - Sardinops sagax
  8. Californian (Northern) Anchovy - Engraulis mordax
  9. Delta Smelt - Hypomesus transpacificus
  10. Surf Smelt - Hypomesus pretiosus
  11. Longfin Smelt - Spirinchus thaleichthys (Threatened)
  12. North Pacific Hake (Whiting) - Merluccius productus
  13. Plainfin Midshipman - Porichthys notatus
  14. Rainwater Killifish - Lucania parva (Non-native)
  15. Topsmelt Silverside - Atherinops affinis
  16. Jack Silverside (Jacksmelt) - Atherinopsis californiensis
  17. Bay Pipefish - Syngnathus leptorhynchus
  18. Brown Rockfish - Sebastes auriculatus
  19. Kelp Greenling - Hexagrammos decagrammus
  20. Lingcod - Ophiodon elongatus
  21. Tidepool Sculpin - Oligocottus maculosus
  22. Cabezon - Scorpaenichthys marmoratus
  23. Opaleye - Girella nigricans
  24. Striped Bass - Morone saxatilis (Non-native)
  25. Pacific Jack Mackerel - Trachurus symmetricus
  26. White Croaker - Genyonemus lineatus
  27. Shiner Perch - Cymatogaster aggregata
  28. Barred Surfperch - Amphistichus argenteus
  29. Black Surfperch - Embiotoca jacksoni
  30. Dwarf Surfperch - Micrometrus minimus
  31. White Surfperch - Phanerodon furcatus
  32. Walleye Surfperch - Hyperprosopon argenteum
  33. Pile Perch - Rhacochilus vacca
  34. Shimofuri Goby - Tridentiger bifasciatus (Non-native)
  35. Pacific Halibut - Hippoglossus stenolepis
  36. Cheekspot Goby - Ilypnus gilberti
  37. Saddleback Gunnel - Pholis ornata
  38. Bay Goby - Lepidogobius lepidus
  39. Pacific Sanddab - Citharichthys sordidus
  40. Speckled Sanddab - Citharichthys stigmaeus
  41. California Halibut - Paralichthys californicus
  42. Diamond Turbot - Hypsopsetta guttulata
  43. English Sole - Parophrys vetulus
  44. Curlfin Sole - Pleuronichthys decurrens
  45. Pacific Sand Sole - Psettichthys melanostictus
  46. California Tonguefish - Symphurus atricaudus
  47. Pacific Tomcod - Microgadus proximus
  48. California Lizardfish - Synodus lucioceps

Some Anadromous Fish

Anadromous fish are born in freshwater, migrate out to the ocean and reach maturity, then return to fresh water as adults to spawn.

  1. Steelhead Trout - Oncorhynchus mykiss (this is the anadromous form of Rainbow Trout) (Threatened)
  2. Coho Salmon - Oncorhynchus kisutch
  3. Chinook Salmon - Oncorhynchus tshawytscha (Endangered)
  4. Pacific Lamprey - Entosphenus tridentata
  5. Western American River Lamprey - Lampetra ayresii
  6. White Sturgeon - Acipenser transmontanus
  7. North American Green Sturgeon - Acipenser medirostris (Threatened)

Some Freshwater Fish

  1. Rainbow Trout - Oncorhynchus mykiss (this is the freshwater form of Steelhead Trout)
  2. Sacramento Sucker- Catostomus occidentalis
  3. Sacramento Blackfish - Orthodon microlepidotus
  4. Sacramento Pikeminnow - Ptychocheilus grandis
  5. California Roach - Hesperoleucus symmetricus
  6. Hitch - Lavinia exilicauda
  7. Sacramento Perch - Archoplites interruptus
  8. Tule Perch - Hysterocarpus traskii
  9. Hardhead - Mylopharodon conocephalus
  10. Western Brook Lamprey - Lampetra richardsoni
  11. Riffle Sculpin - Cottus gulosus
  12. Coastrange Sculpin - Cottus aleuticus
  13. Common Carp - Cyprinus carpio (Non-native)
  14. Mosquitofish - Gambusia affinis (Non-native)
  15. Black Crappie - Pomoxis nigromaculatus (Non-native)
  16. Green Sunfish - Lepomis cyanellus (Non-native)
  17. Redear Sunfish - Lepomis microlophus (Non-native)
  18. Pumpkinseed - Lepomis gibbosus (Non-native)
  19. Golden Shiner - Notemigonus crysoleucas (Non-native)
  20. Goldfish - Carassius auratus (Non-native)
  21. Inland (Mississippi) Silverside - Menidia beryllina (Non-native)
  22. Brown Bullhead - Ictalurus nebulosus (Non-native)
  23. Black Bullhead - Ameiurus melas (Non-native)
  24. Channel Catfish - Ictalurus punctatus (Non-native)
  25. White Catfish - Ameiurus catus (Non-native)
  26. Bigscale Logperch - Percina macrolepida (Non-native)
  27. Bluegill - Lepomis macrochirus (Non-native)
  28. Largemouth (Black) Bass - Micropterus salmoides (Non-native)
  29. Smallmouth (Black) Bass - Micropterus dolomieu (Non-native)


  • Alameda Creek Alliance - restoring Alameda Creek watershed and its native fish populations. 
  • Center for Ecosystem Management and Restoration (CEMAR) - using scientific information for the sustainable management of local and regional coastal watersheds in California. 
  • Friends of Marsh Creek Watershed (FOMCW) - Protect, conserve, and restore Marsh Creek and its tributaries, and inspire appreciation and conservation of the Marsh Creek Watershed. 
  • Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project - restoration and enhancement of the native salmon and steelhead populations of the greater Monterey Bay area. 
  • Pelagic Shark Research Foundation - develop and assist projects that contribute to a better understanding of elasmobranchs, with an emphasis on those which contribute to their conservation and management. 
  • Salmon Protection And Watershed Network (SPAWN) - protect endangered Salmon in the Lagunitas Watershed. 


  • Fish Survey 1992-1998 of Bay Area Stream Fishes, Robert A. Leidy. A very comprehensive report showing species collected by stream and collection station. 
  • Search for Native Fish species by location - county and watershed, California Fish Website by University of California. 
  • Fishbase is a comprehensive database of all species of fish. 


Coho Salmon and Steelhead Trout in National Park land in Marin County.

Underwater view of fish around a "Christmas tree reef" in Lake Del Valle.

Fish Articles and Links

  • Northern Santa Clara County Fish Resources, Jerry J. Smith, Department of Biological Sciences, San Jose State University, July 2013. Detailed status by creek systems with special emphasis on salmon but includes several other species. 
  • From Perch to Pikeminnows: The Freshwater Fish That Didnít Get Away, Glen Martin, Bay Nature, Sep 2013. Good overview of freshwater fish in the East Bay with several illustrations. 
  • Fishes Common to the South San Francisco Bay, by Virginia Kolence, City of Palo Alto Dept. of Community Services. 
  • Fish found in Marsh Creek with illustrations and descriptions by the Friends of Marsh Creek Watershed. 
  • Fish found in the Tule Ponds at Tyson Lagoon, Fremont with descriptions and photographs by the Math/Science Nucleus. 
  • Ecology, Assemblage Structure, Distribution, and Status of Fishes in Streams Tributary to the San Francisco Estuary, California, by Robert A. Leidy, EPA, published by San Francisco Estuary Institute. Appendex III gives a nice table of fish species by watershed for the entire Bay Area. 
  • Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) Species Distributions In San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun Bays, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Soutwest Regional Office. 
  • Marine Science Institute Volunteer Fish Data Program: South San Francisco Bay Fish Populations from 1970 through 2007 - data for 12 species 
  • San Francisco Bay Fish Index, 2003, Bay Institute. A report on the abundance, diversity, and species composition of the San Francisco Bay fish community. 
  • Pacific Bluefin Tuna tagging research - migration patterns off the California coast to Hawaii. 
  • The Return of the endangered Tidewater Goby to Tomales Bay State Park, video by Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center. 
  • Fish and Shellfish Identification, California Dept. of Fish and Game. 


  • Salmon Viewing Map for the Bay Area from the Bay Institute 
  • Marin County Stream and Coho Salmon Map 
  • Salmonids of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary 
  • Historical Distribution and Current Status of Steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in Streams of the San Francisco Estuary, California 
  • Historical Status of Coho Salmon in Streams of the Urbanized San Francisco Estuary, California 
  • Chinook Salmon in the Russian River - data from Sonoma County Water Agency 
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