Category Archives: Limits

Beach Hunting

(CDFW photo by Melanie Parker)

(CDFW photo by Melanie Parker)

Question: I’ve heard deer and elk are occasionally spotted on a beach in a remote area of Northern California. This beach stretches for several miles and I’m planning to hike it beginning from a public access point. During deer and elk season, what are the regulations regarding hunting from the beach? I will have a harvest tag for the appropriate area and know not to shoot over water or within 150 yards of a dwelling. I believe the State of California owns everything from the mean high tide water line out to three miles, so if it were a low tide, and a deer or elk happened to be below the mean high tide line, could I technically take a shot? Although it’s not likely this scenario would occur, I am curious about the legal and ethical nature of this scenario. (Katie H.)

Answer: There are no California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) laws prohibiting this, but there could be local firearms closures in place. To determine if firearms or archery equipment would be legal to possess and use in the area you’re interested in hunting, you should contact the local sheriff (if an unincorporated area) or the local police department (if an incorporated area) to confirm. Also, these beaches may very likely be managed by either State Parks (where hunting is prohibited) or Bureau of Land Management (who may have restrictions on hunting near trails, camps and beaches). Therefore, you should also contact the local agency having jurisdiction over where you plan to hunt to be sure hunting is authorized there.


Number of fishing rods used in ocean boat?
Question: If we are fishing on a boat in Monterey, how many fishing rods are allowed? If we already have rockcod aboard, do I need to use one rod? Can I use two rods to target lingcod or halibut if we don’t have rockcod? Can I still use a second rod for bait fishing if rockcod are aboard? (Kenual L.)

Answer: Generally, any number of hooks and lines may be used in ocean waters and bays, but there are exceptions involving certain locations and specific species of fish. When pursuing rockfish, lingcod, cabezon, kelp or rock greenlings, or salmon north of Point Conception, or when any of these species are aboard or in possession, only one line with not more than two hooks may be used (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.65(c)). When rockfish are aboard, you may not use a second rod even if for bait fishing. Instead, plan to fish for bait before fishing for these species. Anglers should read section 28.65 on page 46 of the 2013-2014 Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet before fishing with multiple hooks or lines.


Crabbing in Santa Barbara (Refugio Beach)
Question: I’m planning to head to Refugio Beach in Santa Barbara to do some crabbing. What do I need to get to trap crabs in the water about 100 yards out? What traps can I use since I’m not a commercial fisherman? (Robert M.)

Answer: Crab traps are illegal south of Point Arguello (north of Refugio State Beach), so you may not use traps there. However, you can take crabs by hand or hoop net (CCR Title 14, section 29.80). Hoop nets must be serviced every two hours. You will need a sport fishing license (unless you go on a Free Fishing Day www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/fishing/freefishdays.html), a measuring gauge to measure the crab and hoop net(s). Since lobster season is currently open, if you catch a California spiny lobster, then as long as you have lobster report card in your possession and the lobster meets the size requirements, you can take lobsters by hoop net also. Any spiny lobsters caught outside of the season or that are too short must be immediately returned to the water. Please make sure you’re familiar with all crab (and lobster) fishing regulations before heading to the beach. The 2013-2014 Ocean Sport Fishing Regulation booklet can be found wherever fishing licenses are sold, or online at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/sportfishing_regs2013.asp.


Methods of crayfish harvesting?
Question: I was wondering if you can harvest crayfish by free diving for them in lakes and streams using only your hands. (Eddie R.)

Answer: Yes. Crayfish may be taken only by hand, hook and line, dip net or with traps not over three feet in greatest dimension (CCR Title 14, section 5.35). Most crayfish have no limit and the season is open all year. However, Shasta crayfish are protected and so there are specific river and lake closures listed for their protection in the 2013-2014 California Freshwater Fishing Regulations booklet (on page 20), as well as online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/. Look for subsection (d) of this section for the closed waters to avoid.

 #  #  #

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 Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

How Much Fishing Until Boat Limits Apply?

(CDFW photo by Ed Roberts)

(CDFW photo by Ed Roberts)

Question: I heard this question asked on the radio last season while fishing for salmon in Monterey. The answers from mostly experienced and knowledgeable anglers were mixed. No one seemed to be certain. So here’s the situation:

Two anglers, both legally licensed, one rod trolling per angler, barbless hooks, one lure per line. The anglers take turns hooking up and fighting the fish. Soon they have three legal salmon on the boat. One angler has a limit, and the other angler needs one more and wants to catch his own. The question: Can the two anglers continue trolling with the two rods out?

My reading of the ocean regs is yes, they can, because there is nothing in the regs saying the angler with a limit must stop fishing while the boat/anglers are not over limit. If the next one to hook a fish was to fill the boat limit, then the angler with the limit would not be able to even touch the rod. However, since catch and release fishing is not prohibited, both can continue to fish until the last fish is netted. Do you agree? (Dave R.)

Answer: Yes, boat limits apply. Boat limit: When two or more persons that are licensed or otherwise authorized to sport fish in ocean waters off California or in the San Francisco Bay District … are angling for finfish aboard a vessel in these waters, fishing by all authorized persons aboard may continue until boat limits of finfish are taken and possessed aboard the vessel (CCR, Title 14 section 27.60 (c )).


How to become a Hunter Ed Instructor?
Question: How can I sign up to become a Hunter Education Instructor?

Answer: Applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Successfully complete the hunter education course prior to submitting an application
  • No felony convictions
  • Completed a course of study prior to taking a supervised examination covering the basic topics of hunter education

The testing process to become a certified instructor takes about two hours and applicants must score a minimum of 80 percent. After passing the exam, the volunteer will take an oath and work with an experienced instructor before leading their own class.

To retain current HEI certification, an instructor must teach one class per year and attend one conference. More information on the requirements can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/huntered, or speak with one of our wildlife officers at the upcoming Fred Hall Shows in either Long Beach or Del Mar.


Lobster report card for two different types of traps?
Question: If I am fishing with both flat and rigid types of hoop nets in one set, do I need to fill out two lines on my lobster report card (e.g. one line with a gear code for flat and one line for the non folding type?) (Dixon C.)

Answer: Yes. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Environmental Scientist Travis Buck, instruction 2 on the lobster report card says “make a separate entry for each location fished and each type of gear used.” You’ll see under gear codes that flat hoop nets are gear #1 and rigid hoop nets are gear #2. So create separate lines for each type of net, and record the corresponding number of lobsters retained for each type of net. Thank you for paying attention to this detail!

Also, hunters and anglers are now being offered the ability to report harvest data online at: www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/harvestreporting/. This means you will be able to enter your 2012 lobster report card data online. Thanks and good luck lobster fishing.


Importing USDA processed black bear meat?
Question: Can I bring USDA processed black bear meat into California from Colorado and Nevada from USDA plants to sell here locally? (Anshu P.)

Answer: No, California Fish and Game law prohibits the sale of the pieces or parts of any bear in California, and it makes no difference if the item was a bear that was killed in California or in another state and imported into the state. (See Fish and Game Code, section 4758.)

#  #  #

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 Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

If White-tailed Deer Stray into California, Can We Shoot?

White-tail deer (Photo courtesy of USFWS)

White-tailed deer (Photo courtesy of USFWS)

Question: If white-tailed deer were to migrate into California from Oregon or Idaho, could they be shot here on sight since there is no season or provision for that species? (Scott H.)

Answer:  No. Since Fish and Game Code, section 3950(a) defines deer as genus Odocoileus, which includes white-tailed deer, white-tailed deer can only be taken under the normal deer hunting provisions for the area in which it wandered.


Spearfishing in the Sacramento River
Question: I live in the Valley District and am wondering if it is legal to spearfish in the Sacramento River? I know there are carp, pikeminnow (squawfish) and western suckers. I’ve been searching online and many people say you can’t spearfish in any fresh water system, including streams, lakes and rivers. I have spearfished in the ocean but not in fresh water yet. I keep hearing different things from people regarding the spearfishing.

Also, is there any recommended equipment for spearfishing? Can homemade or custom-built equipment be legally used for spearfishing? I know the Valley District is only open for a short time (five months) for spearfishing. (J.T. Moua)

Answer: Spearfishing is allowed but there are some restrictions. First of all, please pick up a copy of the 2012-2013 Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet available free of charge at most stores or DFG offices that sell fishing licenses or online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/. Section 2.30 (page 15) lists the only species that may be taken in the Valley District between May 1 and Sept. 15. For a description of the boundaries for the Valley District, please see section 6.36 (page 27). In addition, you may not spearfish in designated spawning areas. There are no specific definitions regarding the spears that may be used, so you may build your own or buy a custom made spear. For a definition of what regulations constitute spearfishing, please see section 1.76 (page 13).


How many hooks are allowed when sturgeon fishing?
Question: When fishing for sturgeon, how many hooks are allowed?

Answer: Only one single point, single shank, barbless hook may be used on a line when taking sturgeon.


When a sturgeon is accidentally caught on the wrong gear …?
Question: If a legal-sized white sturgeon is caught accidentally on a barbed hook (e.g. while fishing for striped bass), can it be legally kept as long as the angler possesses a sturgeon report card and tag? (Anonymous)

Answer: No, even if accidentally caught, barbed hooks are not an authorized method of take for white sturgeon. Thus, even legal-sized white sturgeon caught on a barbed hook cannot be kept.


What are the rules for sturgeon fishing from a boat?
Question: Once an angler on a boat has legally caught and kept a white sturgeon, must all anglers on that boat switch to barbless hooks?

Answer: No. However, for the rest of that day, the successful sturgeon angler must no longer fish for sturgeon and must immediately release any sturgeon that is accidentally caught.


Sand Souvenirs
Question: I am developing a souvenir that would contain granules of sand from California beaches. I would only require about a half-gallon of sand. Am I able to take sand from a beach and re-sell it as a souvenir to promote the state and its natural resources? (Paul K.)

Answer: Generally, beach sand is not protected by any California Fish and Game law. However, collection of anything (including beach sand) is prohibited in any park or other marine area that has a specific designation and protection in law. In addition, you may want to consider the corrosive nature of beach sand due to its salt content and other unsuitable qualities resulting from decomposition of biotics before using it in your souvenirs. You may find it more beneficial to purchase treated beach sand that is sold in small quantities at many stores that stock landscape and garden supplies.

#  #  #

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 Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.