Monthly Archives: December 2011

Fishing the “Alabama Rig” in California?

To legally use the Alabama Rig in California inland waters, the rig must be attached to one rod with one line and no more than three of the attached lures containing hooks.

Question: A recent innovation on the pro bass-fishing trail is something called the “Alabama Rig”, which is similar to what is called an “Umbrella Rig” by saltwater anglers. The Alabama Rig consists of five or six lures [usually plastic grubs or small swimbaits] radiating from a central attachment point by wires, imitating a school of baitfish. It looks very similar to a “mobile” that you might suspend above a baby’s crib. Since all the lures have hooks in them, would this rig be legal for inland/freshwater fishing in California for bass or other species?” (Steve C., Chico)

Answer:With the amount of money available through tournament fishing these days, anglers are constantly looking for the next big thing to help them catch more and bigger bass. We have received a lot of questions recently regarding the “Alabama Rig” and whether they are legal to use in California. Unfortunately, regulations in California differ from those in Alabama and this type of fishing tackle is not legal

According to competitive bass angler and Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Game Warden Tim Little, the traditional “Alabama Rig” is not legal to use because it contains five separate lures each with a hook. California law allows for a maximum of three lures to be used on an individual line (whether the lure has a single hook as shown in your photograph or uses three hooks as allowed by law.)

In California, “all fish may be taken only by angling with one closely attended rod and line or one hand line with not more than three hooks nor more than three artificial lures (each lure may have three hooks attached) thereto” (California Code of Regulations, section 2.00).

To legally use the Alabama Rig in California inland waters, the rig must be attached to one rod with one line and no more than three of the attached lures containing hooks. Those lures containing hooks may have no more than three hooks attached to each lure. The other two could have hookless teasers. Some people locally have even developed a modified three wire rig (now called a Cali-rig), which is legal.

What to do with prohibited aquarium sharks?
Question: I live in Southern California and maintain private fish tanks for my clients. I have a client that has a 5,000 gallon shark tank with a black tip reef shark. After hearing about other Requiem Sharks being seized (CCR Title 14, section 671 (c)(6)(A)), my client would like to know what he can do to have permits or if this shark has been grandfathered in as he bought the shark in 2008 with verifying receipts. Please let me know what we can do regarding this matter. (Ryan C.)

Answer: Unfortunately, permits are not available to possess species listed in CCR Title 14, section 671 (Importation, Transportation and Possession of Live Restricted Animals) for hobby (pet) purposes. To stay within the law, the only options are: (1) transfer the animal to another appropriately permitted facility, (2) transfer the animal out of the state, or (3) humanely destroy it (CCR Title 14, section 671.5).

Handgun with a flashlight/laser-lite combo?
Question: If I am hunting for big game with a rifle, is it legal to also carry a handgun equipped with a flashlight/laser-lite combo? The handgun would only be a sidearm for safety. (Yia L.)

Answer: Yes, it is legal as long as the handgun is not used to assist in the taking of big game.

Can a rifle hunter and an archery-only hunter hunt together?
Question: If I’m out hunting during general deer rifle season with a partner, and I have a regular deer tag and he has an archery-only (AO) tag, does that mean we cannot hunt together because I would be hunting with a rifle? It seems like technically we wouldn’t be breaking the law but I’m not sure how a warden in the field would interpret this. (Roger A.)

Answer: The restriction only applies to archers who are taking deer during the archery season and in areas where the AO tag can legally be used. As long as your individual method of take (firearm or archery) matches the tag you carry, you can legally hunt together. However, if you choose to hunt in close proximity to your friend and are contacted by a game warden, you can expect that you will be asked several questions to ensure that the special privileges granted to AO tag holders is not being compromised.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at

I Want To Be a Snake Charmer

Rattlesnake (DFG photo)

Question: I am considering venomous snake rescue and relocation and am hoping you will direct me to the proper department. What laws or permits are involved in such a hobby? Are there designated release locations for rescued snakes? Do I need a permit? (Anonymous)

Answer: All native reptiles and amphibians are protected under California Fish and Game laws and may not be taken except as authorized by those laws. The laws do not include take for the purposes you describe. But, a limited version of the business may legally be conducted under the Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations (

According to retired Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Captain Phil Nelms, some species, including rattlesnakes, may be taken under the authority of the regulations. Under the provisions of these regulations, any person with a current sport fishing license may take the number of snakes provided as the “bag limit” for that species each day (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 5.60). However, if you are taking rattlesnakes only, no fishing license is required and the bag limit is two rattlesnakes per day.

Additional regulations protect native reptiles and amphibians taken from the wild, as well as those held in captivity, from being sold or released back into the wild. Live snakes that are immediately released in the area where taken are not considered to be captive (CCR Title 14, section 40).

It is permissible to conduct a snake removal business as long as you operate within the parameters of these sport fishing laws. You may also need to have a local business license.

Buying state and federal duck stamps
Question: I have contacted three sporting goods stores in my area asking about the purchase of state and federal duck stamps and how they relate to the Automated License Data System (ALDS). They don’t know and do not have individual state stamps as in the past. Please help a bunch of duck hunters. (Bill A.)

Answer: Federal Duck Stamps are administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and are available at U.S. Post Offices, some license agents and online at, but not from DFG.

The California Duck Validation (no longer called a stamp) may be purchased now online at, in person at any DFG license sales office (a list of which can be found at or from any license agent (, where validations can be purchased at the same license terminal as the hunting license. Although they are no longer required, the physical stamps are still produced for collectors’ purposes. If you purchase the California Duck Validation and still want to receive an actual stamp, you must request it online. Please read how to do that here:

Using multiple hooks and rods outside the Golden Gate?
Question: I know that you can use as many rods and hooks as you want outside the Golden Gate, but can I use multiple rods to catch striped bass and halibut from the shore? I already know that only one rod can be used for salmon, rockfish and lingcod. I have heard that once I have a striped bass or a halibut in possession, then only one rod can be used. (Eddie H.)

Answer: If you are outside of the San Francisco Bay and fishing from shore for halibut and striped bass, you can use as many rods and hooks as you want. However, if you catch a species like salmon or rockfish, you will have to release it as only one line may be used to take these species (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.65).

Are AR-15s legal for big game hunting?
Question: I am considering purchasing an AR-15 (5.56 mm/.223 cal) but cannot find information that would indicate whether or not this firearm can be used for big game hunting, to include in particular wild boar and deer. Is there a DFG handbook or regulation that covers this in detail? (Whittaker, San Diego)

Answer: AR-15 rifles that are legal to possess in California are legal to use for hunting as long as the ammunition being used is legal for the area and species being hunted.

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 Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at