Category Archives: Methods Of Take

Donating Fish to Charity for a Tax Deduction?

(CDFW file photo)

(CDFW file photo)

Question: In a recent column you said it is legal to donate excess fish from a multi-day fishing trip to a church or non-profit shelter as long as no compensation is received. What about a tax deduction? This way the guys with too many fish donate to the churches, the churches feed the hungry and the fisherman gets a deduction and doesn’t have to worry about dead fish to clean. Everyone wins! What do you think? (Dick L.)

Answer: Sorry, but while this might sound like a great idea, donated fish cannot be claimed as a tax deduction because you cannot assign a value to sport-caught fish. The best thing for anglers to do is to catch and keep only what they know they will actually use so that they don’t end up with excess fish to clean and donate.


Night fishing
Question: We love to fish for crappie and are wondering if it is legal to fish for them at night. I am not aware of any California lakes that allow night fishing using lights off of your boat. Is this legal, and if so, what bodies of water allow this type of fishing? Thanks for all of your weekly information (W. Yamamoto).

Answer: Night fishing for crappie is permitted by the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFW) as long as the lake where you plan to fish permits fishing at night (CCR Title 14, section 2.15). Some lakes prohibit night fishing for purposes of access control, safety or security reasons. You will need to contact the agency or concessionaire managing the lake to inquire about their policy.


Fishing from my private dock?
Question: I live right on the river and can fish from my backyard off my private dock. Do I need a fishing license? I heard if it is private property you do not need a license. (Eric)

Answer: What you heard was not correct. You do need a fishing license because it’s not a matter of where you’re standing, it’s a matter of the waters you’re fishing in. All rivers of the state are public waters, and all fish contained in those waters are public fish. Even if a stream or river runs through private property, all of the fish within those waters belong to the people of California, and thus a fishing license is required. The only places where you would not need a fishing license would be if you were fishing in a pond on private property that has no stream or creek water flowing into it or out of it. The water must be completely self-contained so that no fish from outside of the property can swim into it or swim out of it. The only other place where you can fish without a fishing license is on a public pier in the ocean (CCR Title 14, section 1.88).


Hunter Ed reciprocity between states?
Question: I took a hunter education class in Missouri and have a hunter’s safety card issued from there but recently moved to California and would like to hunt here. Do I have to complete another hunter ed course in California or can I just purchase a hunting license using my old card? (Steve H.)

Answer: No, California accepts hunter education certificates from other states as proof you have completed an approved course in the past. You can also present a previous hunting license from another state as proof to buy a California hunting license. But despite the fact you may not need to take a California hunter education class, you still may want to consider one. It’s a good idea for everyone to periodically update their knowledge with a refresher course and a review of the 10 commandments of handling a firearm. Our hunter education program is always improving and most people do benefit from a refresher. For a calendar list of more than 200 hunter education classes offered throughout the state, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/huntered/classes.aspx).


Casting for squid?
Question: Is it legal to use a standard cast net to catch squid in the ocean or are only dip nets allowed? (Hai L.)

Answer: Hawaiian type throw nets or cast nets are legal to use to take squid if used north of Point Conception. In waters south of Point Conception, only hand-held dip nets are allowed (CCR Title 14, section 28.80).

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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.

For a New Adventure, Try Shrimping!

A coonstripe shrimp, Pandalus danae, caught near Crescent City, California (photo courtesy of J. Bieraugel).

A coonstripe shrimp, Pandalus danae, caught near Crescent City, California
(Photo courtesy of J. Bieraugel).

Question: I have been an avid “crabber” in Northern California for quite a while. For a new adventure I’d like to take up “shrimping” but need some information on where to go, when to go and how to catch shrimp. Is it legal to recreationally catch shrimp? If so, what are the seasons and bag limits? Is there still a viable population of shrimp in California? Thanks for any information to point me in the right direction. (Tony M.)

Answer: You may take any type of ocean shrimp in California waters, but spot prawns are the most desirable and sought after for eating purposes. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Environmental Scientist and Invertebrate Specialist Kai Lampson, because California’s spot prawns are found so deep – usually 100 fathoms (600 feet) or more – and the bag limit is only 35, most people are not interested in trapping these shrimp recreationally.

Another option though are the lesser known coonstripe shrimp, also referred to as dock shrimp for their habit of sometimes living around pilings. Unlike spot prawns, coonstripe shrimp inhabit relatively shallow water and can be fished close to shore with lightweight traps. They may occur out to depths of 600 feet, but fishermen often set their traps between 70-150 feet. The sport limit is 20 pounds (9 kilograms) per day and there is no closed season or size limit for the sport fishery. While they range from Sitka, Alaska to (at least) Point Loma in San Diego County, the highest concentrations of coonstripe are found in far northern California, near Crescent City.

Shrimp and prawn traps may be used to take shrimp and prawns only. South of Point Conception, trap openings may not exceed ½ inch in any dimension. For traps fished north of Point Conception, trap openings are limited to five inches in any dimension.

To learn more about fishing for these interesting shellfish, please check out the crustaceans section of the current Ocean Sport Fishing regulations for the regulations, legal gear, limits and other information you will need to know (California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 29.80 through 29.88).


Carrying a loaded gun in a vehicle on a private road?
Question: I know that it is not legal to have a loaded gun in a vehicle when on public roads and in areas accessible to the public, but what about when on privately owned property where all access is controlled via locked gates? (Scott H.)

Answer: You are correct that it is against the law to carry loaded guns in a vehicle when upon or along a public way (Fish and Game Code, section 2006 and Penal Code 25850). When behind locked gates, however, there are no laws preventing this, although common sense and safety should preclude doing so. Many of the hunting accidents we investigate are caused by people getting into or out of a vehicle with a loaded firearm. Despite this allowance, it is still unlawful to shoot at any game bird or mammal from a motor vehicle, even when on private property (FGC section 3002.)


Scattering ashes at sea
Question: A good friend recently passed away and his last wishes were to have his ashes scattered at sea. Are there any laws against this? (Jolene P., Modesto)

Answer:  No laws against it, but a permit to scatter the ashes at sea is required by California law. The permit is called “Application and Permit for Disposition of Human Remains.” Check with the local county health department for rules and permits and any other specific requirements they may have.


Do fish farms pose threats to wild fish and the environment?
Question: I have questions and concerns about fish farms and the fish they produce. Do fish farms pose any major threats to the environment? Are high disease rates in farmed fish due to improper fish management? Is it true that wild fish are healthier to consume than farmed fish? How much do fish farms contribute economically to society and do they provide many jobs? Thanks for any insight. (Julie B.)

Answer: Commercial fish farms are required to have CDFW permits, and if properly sited and operated, they should have no negative impact on the environment. If the farmed fish are allowed to escape and impact wild fish or other aquatic organisms though, then that might be another story and adverse environmental impacts may occur.

One potential problem might be if water discharge from the farm is not properly treated, then there could be impacts to water quality of adjacent receiving stream systems. Fish disease issues can be nearly eliminated at the farms if properly managed.

As far as whether farmed fish or wild fish are better for your health, there is no evidence that farmed fish are less healthy to consume than wild fish. Many people will say wild fish quality is better in most cases. Keep in mind though that the quality of all fish is more likely tied to how the product is handled in the distribution chain (e.g. post-harvest) rather than whether it’s wild or farmed.

While fish farming can certainly create jobs and provide more employment opportunities, harvesting wild fish also creates jobs. It’s hard to say whether one industry creates more jobs than the other.

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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.

Feeding Wildlife Can Do More Harm Than Good

Feeding wildlife can do more harm than good (NPS photo)

Feeding wildlife can do more harm than good (National Park Service photo)

Question: Our neighbor feeds wildlife three-day-old bread on a regular basis. The wildlife consists of deer, turkey, birds and other mammals. Although this neighbor has been told this is not good for the animals, she continues. What can be done to stop this person from feeding people food to wildlife? (Steve S.)

Answer: While feeding human food to wildlife makes those people doing so feel good, in the long run it is often to the detriment of the animal recipients. Although many animals will eat stale bread when offered, temporarily satisfying their hunger, in reality, many human foods – especially bread – lack the protein and nutritional components animals need for good health.

Although your neighbor may be well-intentioned, she is actually being very selfish. She’s hurting the wildlife and her neighbors by encouraging wild animals to get too comfortable around humans. When animals concentrate around food they are more likely to spread diseases to each other and to domestic pets. When wild animals lose their natural fear of humans they can become very aggressive. Coyotes, in particular, are well-known for eating small pets because they do not differentiate between the food you leave for them and other prey items, like dogs and cats.

People often think they are just feeding cute, furry critters, like squirrels and raccoons. If they were to put a surveillance camera out, they would likely be surprised to find out what’s actually eating the food at night. They would probably be appalled to discover animals fighting over the food, and that they’re actually keeping the neighborhood rats fat and happy.

In addition, there may be a local ordinance that bans feeding of some wild animals. Los Angeles County, for example, has an ordinance that prohibits feeding non-domesticated mammalian predators, including but not limited to, coyotes, raccoons, foxes and opossums.

Regarding deer, there is a statewide ban on feeding big game, which includes deer, bear, elk, antelope and bighorn sheep (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 251.3). You may want to contact a local game warden to report your well-meaning but stubborn and misguided neighbor. Her actions may cause her to be guilty of a misdemeanor, which may carry fines or even jail time.

For more tips on preventing wildlife-human conflicts, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/.


Fishing from my apartment without a license?
Question: I live in an apartment complex that sits on a slough in the San Francisco Bay area. Do I need a fishing license to fish off of the shore while standing on the apartment property with my child, who is under 16? (Dan S.)

Answer: Yes, you will need a license but your child will not. Anyone 16 years or older must possess a valid California fishing license in order to legally fish the public waters of the state. The only exceptions are the two free fishing days offered each year by the state, and fishing from a public pier in ocean waters.


Catching lobsters on a baited hook?
Question: While fishing off the jetty the other day, I caught a large lobster on a baited hook but released it because I think I remember reading that spiny lobsters could not be taken on hook and line. Where can I find this in the regulations? (Gary K.)

Answer: You did the right thing in releasing the lobster, as the only legal methods of take for lobsters are by baited hoop net or by hand. Baited hoop nets are the only appliance that may be used for people fishing from a boat, pier, jetty or shore. Skin and SCUBA divers may only take crustaceans by hand and may not possess any hooked device while diving or attempting to dive for lobsters (CCR Title 14, section 29.05.) In addition, spiny lobster report cards are required by everyone fishing for and/or taking lobsters.


Gifting wild game to family members
Question: Is the practice of “gifting” still legal? With larger possession limits for waterfowl this year, does the “gifting” limit increase as well? Does gifting apply to mammals and upland game as well as waterfowl? Do you know the specific regulation number? (James S., Oakley)

Answer: Yes, gifting fish and game is legal. There is no “gifting limit.” Instead, the amount of game that can be gifted is determined by the possession limit for that species. There are two primary fish and wildlife laws that relate to this practice: Fish and Game Code, section 2001, which applies to all wildlife, and FGC, section 3080, which only applies to game birds and game mammals. Waterfowl possession limits can be found in the CCR Title 14, section 502. Details of these regulation sections can be found online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/.

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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.