Category Archives: Diving

Diving for Abalone with Knives and Spear Guns

Red abalone feeding on kelp at San Miguel Island (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Red abalone feeding on kelp at San Miguel Island (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Question: I plan to head to the coast to try some abalone diving next weekend but need to clarify a few of the abalone regulations before I make the trip. First, I will take all abalone with a legal ab iron but want to also carry a knife. Would this be a problem?

Second, if my buddy and I want to spearfish and take abs on the same day, can we carry our guns while taking the abs or do we have to make separate trips to and from the car?

Finally, if our abs are separated into individual bags (one for mine and one for his), can both bags be clipped onto a single float tube while we finish spear fishing or would that violate the separate possession regulation? Thanks! (Andrew M.)

Answer: You are allowed to carry a knife while diving for abalone but you may not use a knife in place of an abalone iron for taking abalone. The main reason for this rule is because abalone are hemophiliacs, and even the slightest cut to the foot when attempting to remove them from the rocks may cause them to bleed to death. This is a problem especially for abalone short of the legal size limit that must be released. Abalone irons are designed with rounded corners and wider and thicker bases to prevent injuries.

As far as spear guns, you are allowed to carry one while abalone diving (unlike when diving for spiny lobster where this is not legal). Each person’s abalone must be kept in separate identifiable bags, but the bags can both be clipped to the same tube.


Fishing on CSU campuses?
Question: While fishing on a reservoir located on the Cal Poly SLO campus recently, a Cal Poly professor approached us and asked us to leave. This reservoir receives water flow from Lake Santa Margarita where the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) stocks the fishery. The reservoir isn’t listed as a regulated fishery with special conditions. I believe it is public land, and licensed California anglers have a right to fish there. The professor disagrees. Who’s right? (Brian H., San Luis Obispo)

Answer: Fishing access to reservoirs is generally controlled by the person or entity that owns the land on which the reservoir is located. According to local CDFW Patrol Lieutenant Todd Tognazzini, Cal Poly may be conducting studies or engaging in other activities on the reservoir that are inconsistent with fishing. The best thing to do is check with the Cal Poly Police Department for clarification. They can probably provide you a current law they would enforce related to fishing there.


Archery during rifle season?
Question: I hunt archery exclusively, though sometimes I am not able to fill my tag. If I don’t fill my tag during the archery season, can I still use my archery tag and hunt during the rifle season? (Jonathan E.)

Answer: It depends upon what type of tag you have. If you have an archery only (AO) tag or a premium archery tag, then it may only be used for archery take. If you have a general zone tag, it may be used with archery equipment during the early archery season, and then with all legal big game methods such as a rifle, crossbow or archery during the later general season.


Gaffing salmon?
Question: Is it legal to use a gaff to land salmon? On a fishing web site I follow, some guys are recommending using a gaff if the net is busy and two fish need to be landed at the same time. I can’t find the section in the saltwater regulation book to answer my question. Can you help? I’m just trying to stay legal. (Ralph C.)

Answer: In ocean waters, gaffs may only be used to land salmon that are of legal size. If a fish is short and a gaff is used, the angler is in violation (CCR Title 14, section 28.65(d)). In inland waters, only anglers fishing from a boat in the Sacramento River main stem below Deschutes Road Bridge can use a gaff (measuring three feet or less) to land legal-sized fish (CCR Title 14, section 2.06). It’s best to release any short salmon as close to the water as possible to give them the best chance for survival.

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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 Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

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Importing Rattlesnakes to Sell as Exotic Meats?

Western Rattlesnakes cannot be imported or sold in California (photo courtesy of Pete Walker, Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

Western Rattlesnakes are native to California and so cannot be sold or imported into the state (photo courtesy of Pete Walker, Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

Question: I have a business where I sell different types of exotic meats for human consumption. If legal to do, I would like to offer the meat of the following species of rattlesnakes: eastern, western and prairie rattlesnakes. I know I cannot bring western diamondbacks into the state, but are there any restrictions to selling eastern diamondbacks and prairie rattlesnakes from Montana in California? What about selling rattlesnake sausages and rattlesnake cakes made in Colorado? Can I sell processed food in California or is there a restriction? (Anshu P.)

Answer: There are no restrictions in California Fish and Game laws against importing and selling the meat of any species of reptile or amphibian that is not found in the wild in California, as long as they are not otherwise prohibited by federal law. For a list of species found in the wild in California, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/nongame/list.html.


Lobster hooping?
Question: I understand from the regulations that if hoop netting from a kayak, you need to keep your license and card with you. However, if you are scuba diving, you can keep it in your car 500 yards away. I want to hoop from land, but most likely I will have to swim or get wet at certain areas. Can I also keep my license in my car or do I have to bring it with me? (Ping Lee)

Answer: When a person is diving from a boat, the license may be kept in the boat, or in the case of a person diving from the shore, the license may be kept within 500 yards on the shore (Fish and Game Code, section 7145(a)). Therefore, the Fish and Game law that allows the license to remain in the vehicle is specific to a person who is diving from the shore and within 500 yards of the vehicle. Under all other circumstances, the law requires you to have your license in your immediate possession.


Bluegill for bait?
Question: I have had some discussions with other fisherman over the use of bluegill for bait in the body of water it was caught in. I can’t seem to find anything on the website this year pertaining to using them for bait. Am I looking in the wrong area? Have the regulations changed? Please lend us a hand with some info because we don’t want to fish out of our limits. Thanks a million and tight lines to you. (Randall S.)

Answer: California sportfishing regulations for freshwater generally prohibit using live or dead finfish for bait. Although certain species of finfish may be used in the waters where taken, bluegill may only be used in the Colorado River District (see California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 4.15(a)) and portions of the Valley and South Central Districts (see CCR Title 14, section 4.20(d)). See sections 4.00 – 4.30 in the Freshwater Sportfishing Regulations for a complete listing of fish that may be used for bait, and keep in mind that bluegill are sunfish pursuant to CCR Title 14, section 1.77. The regulations are available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/.


New big game fund-raising random drawing tags?
Question: What’s the latest on the special big game tags this year? Will any new tags be available via the random drawing system? (George S., Modesto)

Answer: Yes! Hunters can apply for four different fund-raising random drawing tags. These tags raise funds needed for vital wildlife conservation programs.

According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Big Game Program Analyst Lai Saechao, the 2013 fund-raising random drawing tag for bighorn sheep will be valid in two hunt zones. The hunter will have a choice between the Marble/Clipper Mountains or the South Bristol Mountain hunt zones. In addition, Dry Creek Outfitters has offered free guide services to the winner of the Fund-Raising Random Drawing Bighorn Sheep Tag.

Also available, one open zone deer tag which allows the hunter to hunt during the authorized season dates of any deer hunt, using the specific method and meeting any special conditions of the tag for that hunt. There’s also an Owens Valley elk tag which allows the hunter to hunt in any of the Owens Valley zones (Bishop, Independence, Lone Pine, Tinemaha, Tinemaha Mountain and Whitney) with any legal method. Last but not least, a Northeastern California antelope tag will be valid in the Mount Dome, Clear Lake, Likely Tables, Lassen, Big Valley and Surprise Valley zones with any legal method.

Opportunities to apply for these four fund-raising random drawing tags are available to all interested hunters. Hunters can now apply at any CDFW license sales office, through license agents or online at www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/ols/. Hunters may also apply for these fund-raising random drawing tags at the CDFW booth at the Fred Hall Shows in Long Beach and Del Mar next month.

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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 Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

What’s New for Abalone This Year?

Red abalone (Photo by DFG Marine Biologist Derek Stein)

Question: What are the new abalone regulations that will go into effect this year?

Answer: When the abalone harvest season opens on April 1, the following  new abalone regulations are going into effect:

1) The Fort Ross area will be closed for the first two month so abalone in this area may be taken only during the months of June, August, September, October and November (CCR Title 14, section 29.15(b)(1)). A map showing the abalone closure area around Fort Ross can be found at http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=42101&inline=true

2) Individuals taking abalone shall maintain separate possession of their abalone. Abalone may not be commingled in a float tube, dive board, dive bag, or any other container or device, until properly tagged. Only after abalones are properly tagged (as described in CCR Title 14, section 29.16 (b)), may they be commingled with other abalone taken by another person (CCR Title 14, section 29.15(g)(1)).


Becoming a federal trapper?
Question: I have a friend who lost some livestock to either coyotes or a mountain lion. He wants to protect the rest of his animals and was advised to contact the local government trapper. How can a person become a licensed trapper authorized to track down and remove these problem predatory animals?

Answer: Contact the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The mission of this agency is to provide federal leadership and expertise to resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist. For more information, please go to www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/.


Why are there restrictions on black powder revolvers?
Question: Why is a black powder revolver, which develops more energy than some centerfire pistols, not legal for hunting? (Keith P.)

Answer: There is ever-increasing technology that provides for methods of take not currently authorized by the Fish and Game Commission (FGC). As new methods of take are developed, proposals to the FGC can be made for possible additions to the current legal methods authorized by the regulations. Until then, they may not be used.


Disposing of fish guts?
Question: What is the law on how to properly dispose of fish guts? If fishing from the shore in San Diego County, may I clean my catch and toss the remaining fish parts back into the ocean? Will the game warden be able to take a correct measurement with the head of the fish removed? (Larry W.)

Answer: Fish and Game laws do not prohibit you from returning the fish waste back to the ocean, although local ordinances may. Check with local police or harbor patrol officers for certainty. Once ashore, there is no requirement to keep fish in a whole condition. However, you must retain enough of the fish in order to accurately measure it. Generally, removing the guts is not an issue in determining size.


How to replace a lost license?
Question: With the old hunting and fishing licenses, I received a copy to be sent in for a replacement if I lost my license. With the new license, what do I do if it gets lost or damaged? (Brian)

Answer:  DFG’s new automated licensing system stores all sales transactions in a database. Simply visit a license agent or DFG office, provide your identification and indicate that you need to replace a lost or destroyed license. The system will verify your initial purchase and issue you a duplicate license. The new system will also be able to replace any additional validations you had to purchase. A duplicate license and replacement fee will be charged.

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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 CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.