Category Archives: Fishing

Hunting and Shooting from a Mountain Bike

Shooting or taking game from a bicycle is not specifically prohibited by Fish and Game laws. However, shooting a firearm from, upon or across a public road is prohibited (Photo by Sam Soholt of Will Jenkins and provided courtesy of Cogburn Outdoors)

Shooting or taking game from a bicycle is not specifically prohibited by Fish and Game laws. However, shooting a firearm from, upon or across a public road is prohibited (Photo by Sam Soholt of Will Jenkins and provided courtesy of Cogburn Outdoors)

Question: I will soon be taking off to the mountains to do some mountain quail and tree squirrel hunting. In past years, after arriving at hunting camp, most of my hunting was done on foot and so I couldn’t cover much ground in a day. Last year I took my grandson with me to start teaching him a little about gun safety, hunting and camping in the wild. After walking for a while he got tired and wanted to rest. We were walking along a logging road and he told me he wished he had his bicycle with him. This got me to thinking that with a bike I could cover a lot more area, be basically silent, use no fossil fuel and get some much needed exercise to boot. So, for my hunting trip this year I purchased a mountain bicycle and got it geared up with saddle bags and a handle bar gun rack for my shotgun.

Now I’m all ready to go but can’t find any hunting laws, rules or regulations concerning guns and bicycles on logging roads. Here are my questions: Can I legally shoot from my bicycle while stopped with my feet on the ground or do I have to completely dismount the bicycle to shoot?

Can I have a shotgun shell in the chamber while on my bicycle (like while walking) or must I have the chamber empty and action open like when in a motor vehicle?

Can I carry a holstered six shot, black powder pistol with five rounds capped on my bicycle or do all the nipples have to be uncapped as in a motor vehicle? I don’t want to do anything illegal or get into any trouble, so I would appreciate any help with these questions. (K. Broberg)

Answer: Shooting or taking game from a bicycle, whether on it or straddling it, is not specifically prohibited in California Fish and Game laws. However, section 374c of the Penal Code prohibits shooting a firearm from or upon a public road. A logging road is not a highway but it may be a public road depending on multiple factors, including who owns and/or maintains the road. But, in any case it is advisable to always be off any road before shooting even if it is not expressly prohibited by law.

Loaded rifles or shotguns are prohibited in any vehicle or conveyance “while standing on … any way open to the public” (Fish and Game Code, section 2006). In your case the bicycle is a conveyance and the logging road is a way open to the public — assuming it is open to travel by everyone and not just to those having specific permission from the owner. Bicycles may NOT be used in designated Wilderness Areas.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) law does not prohibit carrying a holstered six shot, even in a motor vehicle. The loaded-gun law applies only to rifles and shotguns (Fish and Game Code, section 2006). There are other law enforcement agencies that do have strict laws against carrying loaded guns in vehicles though.


Beach curfews
Question: I happen to live on the beach and enjoy late evening beach walks but rarely do so due to the 10 p.m. beach curfew closing. I’ve heard that despite any beach curfews, you can be on the beach fishing at any hour as long as you have a fishing license and are legally fishing. If this is true I could just bring a surf rod with me at night to walk and have some fun bouncing a lure in the surf. Does that sound reasonable? (Shane S.)

Answer: Local beach curfews are often imposed for public safety and they take precedence over state ocean fishing open hours. While there are no time limitations when fishing for finfish, you must abide by the beach curfew. Sorry!


Roadkill is not food!
Question: A friend recently hit a deer, causing about $1,200 damage to the vehicle. He picked up the deer and put it in his truck to take home for food. He was stopped by a sheriff’s deputy who told him to take the deer out of his vehicle or he would be cited. I heard that it is legal to pick up “roadkill.” Can you please clarify this? (Sandy B.)

Answer: The officer was correct. It is illegal to pick up roadkill wildlife in California. No one may possess wildlife in any form unless the animal was legally taken by a licensed hunter during the hunting season for that species and while using approved harvest methods. Given this, even if the first criteria were true (your friend was a licensed hunter), motor vehicles are not a legal method of take. The next time your friend sees an animal killed on the roadway, he should not attempt to retrieve it for any purpose.


Can you lure a lobster out of a hole with a sardine?
Question: Are you allowed to lure lobsters out of a hole with a piece of sardine in your hand? (David C.)

Answer: Sure, you can give it a try, but I don’t know how successful you’ll be. The law says that skin and scuba divers may take crustaceans by the use of the hands only and may not possess any hooked device while diving or attempting to dive for them (CCR Title 14, section 29.80). There is no prohibition against waving snacks in front of them.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Please do not reply to this e-mail. CDFWNews@wildlife.ca.gov is for outgoing messages only and is not checked for incoming mail. For questions about this News Release, contact the individual(s) listed above. Thank you.

Subscribe to CDFW News via e-mail or RSS feed. Go to http://www.dfg.ca.gov/news.

Like CDFW on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CaliforniaDFW” http://www.facebook.com/CaliforniaDFW and Twitter @CaliforniaDFW.

How Are Sturgeon Weathering the Drought?

Sturgeon photo1

White Sturgeon (CDFW photo)

Question: I have a question about sturgeon. Are they being negatively affected by the drought? Since sturgeon have been around millions of years, they must have endured many droughts and so hopefully this drought will not hit them as hard as maybe some other species that are less hardy and more sensitive to changes. Is this true? (Anonymous)

Answer: That’s an excellent question, but the answer is complicated. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Environmental Program Manager Marty Gingras, plenty of sturgeon in California will likely outlive this drought because of the state’s adaptive management of white sturgeon harvest (green sturgeon is a threatened species so harvest is illegal) and protection from poaching.

Sturgeon and salmon are anadromous species, but salmon mature and then die in just two to three years. By comparison, female sturgeon typically mature after 15-plus years, can spawn more than once (though not annually) and can live many decades. These characteristics mean that sturgeon are resilient, but it also means they can easily be overfished. California’s sturgeon fisheries were (with minor exceptions) closed from 1901 through 1953 due to overfishing. Commercial harvest of white sturgeon is illegal and recreational harvest is now managed through area closures, bag limits, size limits and gear restrictions.

Most sturgeon spawn in the Sacramento River and young-of-the-year fish migrate downstream to rear in the San Francisco Estuary. Large numbers of young sturgeon survive the migration only in years with nearly flooding Sacramento River flows during both winter and spring. For sturgeon it is as though 2014 is the eighth straight year of drought. Although a relatively-good “cohort” of white sturgeon spawned in 2006 will soon be harvestable, we expect the fishery to decline substantially.

Adaptive management of California’s white sturgeon through predictable ebbs in abundance is key to conservation of the species and its fishery.


Deer tag validation required from private property?
Question: If I take a legal buck on my own property, then tag and process it on site, do I need to get the tag validated since it will require me to transport the carcass off my property? (Ruth W.)

Answer: Yes. All deer must be validated even when taken on private property. Remember, wildlife belong to the people of the State of California, not to the owners of land where animals live. The law states the animal’s tag must be validated regardless of where taken and may not be transported initially except for the purpose of taking it to be validated (Fish and Game Code, section 4341).


Dorado limits higher in California
Question: I went fishing out of San Diego twice this fall. The first time we fished in California waters off San Clemente Island and the second time we fished in Mexican waters. I understand the daily bag limit for Dorado in Mexico is two fish, but can’t find it in the regulations booklet for California. What is it? (Chuck K.)

Answer: Dorado do not have a specific bag limit in California and so they fall under the general bag limit of 10 fish of any one species with no more than 20 finfish in combination of all species (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 27.60(a)).


When cancer treatment threatens premium draw deer hunt?
Question: I was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer in April and have had chemo for four months. I am doing great and am in good shape to go hunting, but I just found out I must have a bone morrow transplant and it looks like it will be around the time of the premiuml draw tag hunt. Can I return this tag and still get my points back? Doctors at Stanford are trying to let me go hunting but it may not happen. (Dennis S.)

Answer: So sorry to hear about your cancer and the treatments you’re going through! In order to return the tag without penalty, I suggest you contact our License and Revenue Branch at (916) 419-7573 immediately. You must return the tag before the season begins along with a letter explaining why you can’t complete the hunt. With some tag drawings there will be an alternate list available with hunters standing by in case of a cancellation. No alternate lists are established for premium deer tags though, so your tag will not be reissued to anyone else. There is a preference point appeal process available. Please go to CCR, Title 14, section 708.14 for the details. And best wishes that your upcoming cancer treatments go well.


Motorized turkey decoys?
Question: Are there any restrictions on using motorized or string motion decoys while turkey hunting in California? (Scott C.)

Answer: No.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Please do not reply to this e-mail. CDFWNews@wildlife.ca.gov is for outgoing messages only and is not checked for incoming mail. For questions about this News Release, contact the individual(s) listed above. Thank you.

Subscribe to CDFW News via e-mail or RSS feed. Go to http://www.dfg.ca.gov/news.

Like CDFW on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CaliforniaDFW” http://www.facebook.com/CaliforniaDFW and Twitter @CaliforniaDFW.

When Does Fish and Game Become Just Food?

Pintail (Photo courtesy of USFWS)

Pintail (Photo courtesy of USFWS)

Question: I understand that you can’t have multiple limits in your freezer (unless those limits are gifted to a corresponding number of family members living in the same house). My question is when exactly does your catch become just food? If I cook and smoke a duck and then break it down into parts and vacuum seal it into individual meals, or if I smoke some salmon and vacuum seal or can it, does it then stop being game and become food? If not, how and why does this differ from taking advantage of a grocery store sale and buying a couple cases of salmon? Surely there could be more than a limit of salmon in a case. Please be specific about when and why food stops being game. (Kirk G.)

Answer: Regardless of whether they are fresh, frozen, or otherwise preserved, if you have the edible portions of any sport-taken fish or game, they still count toward your possession limit until they are consumed (Fish and Game Code, section 2001 and California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.17.) Grocery stores can only sell commercially processed and packaged meats. Possession refers only to sport-taken fish or game species. For any fish or other meat purchased commercially, just keep them in their commercial packaging to easily differentiate between them from any sport-caught fish or game you may have in your possession.


Can licensed anglers fish more rods from a public pier?
Question: I know people without fishing licenses are allowed to fish from public piers with a limit of no more than two rods. But what if I have a valid fishing license and ocean enhancement stamp and still fish on public piers? Since Fish and Wildlife regs allow licensed anglers to fish in ocean waters with an unlimited number of rods, am I allowed to fish with more than two poles while fishing in ocean waters from a pier? (Frank R.)

Answer: No. If a licensed angler is not fishing from a public pier or jetty and not fishing for a species with rod limits (e.g. rockfish, lingcod or salmon), then more than two rods may be used. On public piers though, no person may use more than two rods and lines, two hand lines, or two nets, traps or other appliances used to take crabs (CCR Title 14, section 28.65(b)), regardless of whether they have a fishing license.


Giving pheasants away to other hunters to keep hunting?
Question: While hunting pheasants, once I shoot my limit, can I give one of my birds to another hunter in the group and continue hunting? (Jerry)

Answer: No. Once you reach your bag limit you are finished hunting for the day. You can give your birds away to other hunters but that does not then allow you to continue hunting that day.


Lobster hunting with bait cages while scuba diving?
Question: Can we use bait cages (like what’s used for hoop netting) while scuba diving for lobster? I want to fill a couple of bait cages with bait and put a float on them with a light stick, set them next to a reef, and then come back and check it for lobster feeding off of it. I don’t see it being illegal since there are no hoop nets involved, or traps and no tickle sticks being used. We’re still catching them by hand. (Anonymous)

Answer: Well, you should keep catching them by hand and not use these bait cages. When diving for crustaceans, the law says they may only be taken by hand, so the literal interpretation would say any other method for a diver is illegal (CCR Title 14, section 29.80(a)(1)). The bait cage is an appliance and is prohibited. The regulation reads: “Nets, traps or other applicances may not be used …” (CCR Title 14, section 29.80(a)(2)).


Hunting upland birds and waterfowl at the same time?
Question: If I’m in the field upland bird hunting and a flock of ducks/geese fly overhead, am I allowed to shoot those birds, too? (Robert G.)

Answer: Yes, but only if the season for waterfowl is open in the area, if you have the required state and federal waterfowl stamps affixed to your license, AND you only have steel or other non-toxic shot in your possession.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Local Gooseneck Barnacles on the Menu?

Close-up of gooseneck barnacles (Pollicipes polymerus) Dr. Dwayne Meadows, NOAA/NMFS/OPR

Close-up of gooseneck barnacles (Dr. Dwayne Meadows, NOAA Collections)

Question: I have a question about gooseneck barnacles. In the Fish and Game regulations it states that gooseneck barnacles cannot be taken or possessed at any time. Can you tell me why? I have spoken with California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) biologists and they did not know why but suggested I contact you. Currently, the only legal way you can obtain them is by purchasing them in a dish at a high-end restaurant. The barnacles sold in these dishes are imported from Spain. I collect mussels in season and the barnacles are nearly as prolific as the mussels, and in the same locations as the mussels. (Curt H., San Francisco)

Answer: I suspect that as with so many of our regulations, goosenecks were not included with the inverts that can be taken because no one spoke up when the list was made to say, “Hey, people eat goosenecks!” California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.05 lists those animals that may be taken within the intertidal zone, and no barnacles (including gooseneck barnacles) are included. These regulations are reviewed and often amended every two years and the Fish and Game Commission could consider adding barnacles to those animals that can be taken. Feel free to contact the Commission with your request (www.fgc.ca.gov/). They would ultimately decide if goosenecks could be added.


Can my estate sell my hunting gear as furniture?
Question: Can my estate sell my collection of all of my old hunting gear that I have collected over the years as a piece of furniture? I have an old hat rack with the following items on it: My father’s old hunting hat and his brother’s old hunting hat, my father’s old hunting coat and his duck strap. On the coat are some old hunting licenses (1930’s and 1940’s), various duck pins, plus 1920 and 1942 Ducks Unlimited pins, and collections of duck bands on a cord. There are also some old pheasant tags/permits in one of the pockets from this same era.

What I’m most proud of is the duck strap that contains nine different species of mounted ducks hanging by their necks. They include: hen shoveler, blue wing teal, gadwall drake, pintail drake, widgeon drake, green wing teal drake, wood duck drake, ring necked duck drake and a small cross-bred duck.Bob Stewart

I am aware that you can’t sell mounted birds by themselves, but as they are part of the piece of furniture, can they be part of the total value and all sold together? All of this vintage hunting stuff belonged to my father and uncle, but I know once I pass on, no one else in my family will have any interest in keeping the stuff. I hope my estate will be able to sell this whole collection of treasures as a piece of furniture so as to not have to break it all up and lose the duck mounts. (Bob S., Modesto)

Answer: What a great collection!! Unfortunately, as you suspected, you cannot sell the ducks. Your best bet would be to sell the other items and donate the ducks. You could perhaps take the ducks out of the collection all together but then donate the strap of birds to the person who buys the other items.


Mobile deer stand
Question: I have a deer stand that lifts up and down using a hydraulic ram mounted in the back of my truck. Is this legal in the state of California? The only way to use it is if the truck is on flat ground and not moving. (Anonymous)

Answer: Unless you qualify for a disabled hunting license, the law prohibits shooting any game bird or mammal from a motor vehicle (Fish and Game Code, section 3002). This provision also applies to a vehicle-mounted deer stand. A legal alternative might be if the stand could be mounted onto a trailer that could then be detached from the vehicle.


Sibiki rig for bait while rock fishing
Question: While fishing for rockfish we would like to have a small rod set up with a sibiki rig to catch bait fish. Do we need to remove the extra hooks and only use two hooks when fishing for bait with rockfish on board? Thanks (Dave P.)

Answer: Yes, when rockfish, lingcod, cabezon or kelp or rock greenling are aboard or in possession, only one line with not more than two hooks may be used (California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 28.55, 28.27, 28.28 or 28.29, respectively.)

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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

How to Measure Abalone Correctly to Avoid a Ticket?

Abalone must be measured with a fixed-caliper measuring gauge capable of accurately measuring seven inches (CDFW staff photo)

Abalone must be measured with a fixed-caliper measuring gauge capable of accurately measuring seven inches (CDFW staff photo)

Question: I know a guy who was abalone diving off his kayak recently and took three nice abalone that all measured around nine inches. He was diving for the big abs and so was using a 9-inch gauge, but had his required 7-inch gauge in his goody bag on the kayak. When he finished up and got back to the beach with his tagged abalone and his gauges in his goody bag, there was a wildlife officer waiting there who had been watching him and wrote him a ticket for using a 9-inch gauge instead of a 7-inch gauge. Why did he get a ticket? (Tim S.)

Answer: Abalone divers are required to “… carry a fixed-caliper measuring gauge capable of accurately measuring seven inches” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.15[f]) and are required to retain any legal-sized abalone they detach and add them to their bag (CCR Title 14, section 29.15[d].) It is fine to use a gauge larger than the required 7-inch gauge to measure over-sized abalone when trophy hunting. The problem occurs when a diver detaches and brings an abalone to the surface, measures it with only a 9-inch gauge, and then rejects it for being smaller than their personal target size even though the abalone may still be of the minimum legal size (seven inches or larger). This practice puts the diver in violation of the above sections and this practice is considered “high-grading.”

To avoid this kind of ticket, divers should not return any abalone before first measuring with a 7-inch gauge to be sure they are smaller than legal size. A 7-inch gauge should be in the immediate vicinity of where the diver surfaces (in hand, float tube or kayak) so that the abalone can be readily measured, and if they then turn out to be short, the diver can then return it to the same location where originally taken. The violation occurs when divers detach and then reject legal-sized abalone because they are seeking only the oversized ones.


Disabled wheelchair-bound hunters?
Question: My dad used to hunt ducks with me every weekend. The last few seasons he had to miss due to becoming disabled and wheelchair-bound. Recently he has talked about hunting the refuges with me this coming season, and has bought an electronic chair. My question is will the electronic chair be allowed onto free roam Type A/B or on Type C areas? Or will it be considered an ATV (which it is not)? He would only be able to do levees or gravel roads. Thanks. (James)

Answer: Many of our wildlife refuges have disabled hunter blinds that would allow your father and one able-bodied hunter to still enjoy waterfowl hunting and accommodate his need for an electronic chair or regular wheelchair. But while he would probably be allowed to free-roam hunt, most refuges with their levees and gravel roads may not be easy to get around in via a wheelchair. ATVs are prohibited. It might be best to call ahead to the refuge where you’d like to hunt to inquire about the conditions available.


Hunting with an arrow rifle?
Question: I have an arrow rifle that’s powered by CO2 high pressured gas that I’ve had for the last 15 years. It’s not a crossbow. I’ve heard it was made for SWAT teams, but I’m not sure. I just think it would be cool to hunt with it but didn’t see anything in your regulations about it. What do you think? Would it be legal? (Wes H.)

Answer: No. The weapon you describe would not be legal for taking fish or wildlife in California.


Bringing black bear claws in from out of state
Question: I recently purchased black bear claws from a licensed store/vendor in Idaho and would like to know if it is legal to bring them back into California. (Anonymous)

Answer: If you buy them legally in another state and have documentation to prove it, you can legally bring them back here so long as you declare their entry into California (Fish and Game Code, section 2353. Assuming they are from a black bear, you cannot sell them once in California though. Even if you decide to later sell them and plan to do so over the Internet … don’t! You could then be charged with a hefty federal Lacey Act violation. Buying or selling black bear parts within California is strictly forbidden, even if the bear was taken out of state.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Dropping Dungeness Crab Traps Before the Opener?

Dungeness crabs (CDFW photo by Christy Juhasz)

Dungeness crabs (CDFW photo by Christy Juhasz)

Question: Is it legal to drop Dungeness crab gear prior to opening day? I’ve heard it’s legal to drop gear the day or night before opening day to let it soak overnight. I looked in the Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet but couldn’t find anything indicating whether this is legal or not. If it is legal, how long before opening day can it be dropped? And how early can it be retrieved? (Fred S.)

Answer: Dungeness crab gear may not be set prior to the recreational fishing season opening date, which this year is Saturday, Nov. 1 at 12:01 a.m. (see California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 29.85(a) and the definition of take in Fish and Game Code section 86.) Anyone setting gear prior to this date and time may be cited for attempting to take crab out of season.


Electronic spinning decoys for doves
Question: I have contacted you before and you have always been very helpful on hunting and fishing questions. This time I have one regarding dove hunting as a friend of mine wants to purchase a battery-powered spinning decoy for dove hunting for the next dove opener. Is it legal to use that type of a powered decoy for doves? They don’t seem to be the smartest of birds and may be too easily attracted to that decoy. Thanks for your help. (Joe A., Antioch)

Answer: There are NO prohibitions on electronic spinning decoys for dove hunting. The prohibitions for electronic vs wind-driven decoys are only for waterfowl from the beginning of the waterfowl season through Nov. 30.

So, tell your buddy he has the thumbs-up to go out and buy a battery-powered spinning decoy to use for dove hunting. Eurasian collared-doves are now open all year with no limits. The season for mourning, white-winged, spotted and ringed turtle doves reopens Nov. 8 and runs through Dec. 22.


Kite fishing?
Question: I live in the San Francisco Bay/Delta region and was wondering if there are any Fish and Game restrictions regarding “kite fishing.” We would like to use these specially modified kites to help us get our lines out farther than the distance we could normally cast them. Outside of local ordinances regarding powerlines and second rod licensing, is there anything that would prevent me from using a kite to get my line further away from the shore into deeper water? (Neil N.)

Answer: There are no specific regulations prohibiting the use of a kite or other windborne device (a helium-filled balloon, for example) to help you to get your line out to where the fish are.

Littering is a concern, however. Anglers have been cited for using a balloon and then releasing the balloon when a fish is hooked, or when the line reaches the desired distance from shore.

As long as you are not releasing (or losing) your kite in the process, there is nothing in Fish and Game regulations that would prevent you from using a kite in this manner. There may be local (city or county) ordinances that pertain to this, however, so please check with local authorities.”


Shotgun hunting for upland game during archery-only deer season?
Question: I have located a number of good band-tailed pigeon roosts in a remote area where I hunt with my A31 late season archery tag. It’s so remote that this year I plan to backpack in and camp in the area. If a friend wants to come with me who does not bow hunt but wants to take their shotgun to take a band-tailed pigeon, would I be allowed to use their shotgun to take band-tail if I left my A31 tag and bow back at camp for a morning? I feel confident this would be legal if we were “car camping” but I am not sure how this would be viewed legally as I will still technically be “in the field” on an archery hunt. (Stephen M.)

Answer: This would be fine once the season for band-tailed pigeons reopens unless you in an area of Los Angeles County where firearms might be prohibited.


Collecting sea palm that’s washed up on the beach?
Question: If I find some sea palm washed up on shore, can I keep it? I know you can’t pick sea palm recreationally, but since this was already dead, I see no harm in gathering. But is it legal? I know you can keep bull kelp when it washes up, so I was wondering if this was similar. (Hank S.)

Answer: The law prohibits cutting or disturbing sea palm (CCR Title 14 section 30.10). While possession of dead sea palm is technically not prohibited, removing live sea palm from the water would likely result in a citation.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Gaffing Undersized Shark That’s Biting My Thumb?

Angel Shark (Photo by CDFW Environmental Scientist Derek Stein)

Angel Shark at Santa Barbara Island (Photo by CDFW Environmental Scientist Derek Stein)

Question: I recently went fishing with a friend and hooked into a 4-foot angel shark (which I had mistaken for a large skate). When I got it close to the boat, I reached down to unhook it and release it (still not thinking it was a shark). As I got close to its mouth it thrashed around and bit my thumb pretty good (suddenly I realized I was in the jaws of a shark). The shark wouldn’t release my thumb, and me being in the boat and it still in the water, the only thing I could think of doing at that moment was to gaff it and bring it on board the boat. When I gaffed it we got it on the boat, my friend held it down and used a screwdriver to pry its mouth open. By this time the shark had lost a lot of blood.

The law says it has to be 72 inches and 100 lbs. The shark died and I was wondering if we violated any laws given that it died while we were trying to save my thumb? In this situation, if we didn’t violate any laws could we have kept the dead shark? Please let me know or put me in touch with someone who can answer this question. Thank you very much for your time. (Sean O.)

Answer: Sorry about your thumb, but there are no size or weight limit restrictions for angel sharks. Gaffs may be used to assist in landing any fish that is legal to take and of legal size, but gaffs are not a legal method of take for sharks or any other species. In a case like this where it sounds like your personal safety (thumb) was an issue, you can use whatever means necessary to ensure your safety. Afterwards, when the immediate threat is over, you must abide by current rules and regulations. If the species or size is illegal, you may not possess it. And as in this case, if you caught the shark illegally, you must release it, dead or alive.


Hunting ducks on mountain lakes?
Question: I have always wondered if it was legal to hunt some of the smaller lakes in the Sierra and foothills bordering forest service land. As long as one follows the standard waterfowl protocol, would it be legal? (Derek C.)

Answer: Yes, it would be legal to hunt waterfowl on the lake so long as you are not trespassing on private property or violating some other law such as shooting too close to an occupied dwelling.


Trail cameras – baiting vs attracting?
Question: I want to set a trail camera out on public lands like the National Forests in California and attract wildlife to it. Can I use scents or baits to attract the wildlife for photography reasons only? I’m not hunting in the area. Example would be putting a commercially sold scent on a log or the ground by the trail cameras. What about an apple, salt lick or chunk of chicken? When is a permit needed for trail camera photography on public land? If I have a California trapper license or hunting license, would it make a difference? The intent is still to modify the animals’ behavior for a photo, and that seems to be the issue. (Anonymous)

Answer: Yes, that is the issue. Intentional acts that disrupt any birds’ or mammals’ normal behavior patterns (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 251.1) or feeding big game mammals (CCR Title 14, section 251.3) is prohibited.

Even if you are not intending to draw an animal in for the purpose of hunting, putting out any type of attractant still falls under the definition of baiting. The definition of “baited area” can be found in the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 257.5. And under this regulation, the use of any substance (real or artificial) that is capable of attracting an animal to an area, and when used causes the animal to feed (on the substance), is prohibited. Generally, aerosols sprayed into the air are permissible because there is nothing to feed on. But the same products applied to a surface (e.g. tree, brush, rock, etc.) where the animal licks, eats, chews, nibbles, etc. the surface is considered feed and is a violation.


Will CDFW plant fish in private duck club pond?
Question: A pond on our private duck hunting property was accidentally drained in the last year but we will refill it as soon as we can get more water. At that point, can we have the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) replant it with fish? (Fishingdude)

Answer: No, CDFW will only plant fish in public waters that are open and available to the public to enjoy. If this is a private pond, you will need to get a private stocking permit from CDFW and then buy fish from a commercial fish farm, which may also stock them for you.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.