Category Archives: Sharks

Fishing for Manta Rays in California

bat ray D. Troutte

California Bat Ray (Photo by Dean Troutte)

Question: Is it legal to fish for manta rays in California, specifically in the San Francisco Bay area? (Gina T.)

Answer: Manta rays are generally not found off California, and since they are filter feeders, it may be difficult to persuade one to take your bait. The northernmost limit of their range in the eastern Pacific Ocean is around San Diego, where they are only spotted occasionally. However, if a manta ray were to stray farther north, then yes, it may be legally taken by hook and line off California. I suspect you instead may be referring to bat rays which are more widely distributed and caught fairly regularly on hook and line. If so, they too are legal to take.


California lizardfish
Question: Please verify for me the catch limit on California lizardfish. My understanding is the limit is 10 fish/species with a total bag limit of 20 fish of all species. Right? I don’t see this species mentioned as one of the “no limit” species. Lizardfish are being caught 4-5 at a time on the piers on the Central Coast and someone is telling the anglers there is no limit, so keep all you catch. (Rose H., Santa Barbara)

Answer: You are correct. A bag limit of up to 10 lizardfish per angler is allowed. There are no size or season restrictions for these fish though.


Selling a polar bear rug
Question: I’ve inherited a white polar bear rug that has been in the family for 30-40 years. I have no papers or receipts for it. Can I still sell it? (Christian P., Tulare)

Answer: No. Fish and Game Code section 4758 prohibits the sale of any bear parts, even if the bear is not native to California, and violations are prosecuted as felonies.


Big game baiting
Question: I have a question regarding the “baiting” of big game. In the Mammal Hunting regulations booklet on page 12 it says:

257.5. Prohibition Against Taking Resident Game Birds and Mammals by the Aid of Bait.

Except as otherwise provided in these regulations or in the Fish and Game Code, resident game birds and mammals may not be taken within 400 yards of any baited area.
(a) Definition of Baited Area. As used in this regulation, “baited area” shall mean any area where shelled, shucked or unshucked corn, wheat or other grains, salt, or other feed whatsoever capable of luring, attracting, or enticing such birds or mammals is directly or indirectly placed, exposed, deposited, distributed, or scattered, and such area shall remain a baited area for ten days following complete removal of all such corn, wheat or other grains, salt, or other feed.

Does this also prohibit aerosol attractants? An aerosol is not considered feed but it is “capable of luring, attracting or enticing.” In the regulations it does not specifically prohibit non-feed attractants. (Ken M.)

Answer: This section (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 257.5) prohibits the use of any feed (real or artificial) that is capable of attracting an animal to an area, and when the attractant used causes the animal to feed (on the substance), it 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.

Intentional acts that disrupt any birds’ or mammals’ normal behavior patterns (CCR Title 14, section 251.1), and feeding big game mammals (CCR Title 14, section 251.3) are also prohibited.

For the complete regulations, please go to http://www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/ to find the California Mammal Hunting Regulations for 2013-2014.


Electric fishing reels
Question: Are electric fishing reels allowed in the state of California? (John M.)

Answer: Yes. Nothing in the Fish and Game Code prohibits the use of electric fishing reels manufactured for sport fishing. Acceptable fishing methods and gear restrictions can be found in section 2.00 of the Freshwater Regulations booklet and 28.70(a)(3) in the Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet, available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/ or wherever fishing licenses are sold.

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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.

How to Control Nuisance Crows?

Question: I live in Redondo Beach and was told by the city to ask you what could be done about an infestation of the nuisance birds that are an absolute plague in our neighborhood. I have small children that are woken up by these vile creatures starting at 3am to around 8am! Please get back to me and let me know what I can and cannot do. (Armando R.)

Answer: There is a provision in the Fish and Game regulations that allows for landowners to destroy (shoot) crows that are damaging farm fields or other crops. However, it seems this is not what you are dealing with, not to mention the fact that firearms cannot be discharged within city limits. If I interpret your question correctly, your principle complaint is the noise level.

There are actually a number of cities that have similar problems with crows and the cities have coordinated with either the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture or the U.S. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife to implement abatement measures. Here is a good article written by the Washington Department of Wildlife regarding nuisance crows http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/crows.html. As you will see as you read it, it’s a tough issue because most of the abatement measures work only for short periods of time. If you believe the crows are in such a concentration that they create a public health hazard (droppings), then your city or county health department should be notified.

Bottom line, if the roosting crow population continues to grow, the city may need to get involved by contacting the USDA, Wildlife Services Division.


Pacific angel shark limits?
Question: Yesterday I caught and released a Pacific angel shark. At first I did not know what it was. It looked like a guitar fish but was different. After looking through the regulations, I didn’t see anything about the Pacific angel shark. Is there a bag limit and/or size limit on them? Or are they a protected species? I also caught and released a broadnose sevengill shark. The regulations list a limit of one but no size limit. Does this mean any size can be taken? (Alan V.)

Answer: When a fish species is not mentioned specifically in the Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet, section 27.60 applies (found on pg. 32 of the current Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet). The general bag limit instructs fishermen to keep no more than 20 fish per day, of which no more than 10 fish may be of the same species.

Additionally, there are some species for which there is no bag limit (see section 27.60(b) for these species). If no size limit is given for a species, there is none.


Catching turtles at the lake?
Question: I’ve been seeing turtles at this lake we like to fish, and there’s a good chance I could catch one. What are the regulations regarding catching turtles? Can I bring it home as a pet or to eat? (Huu Tran)

Answer: Before attempting to catch one of these turtles, it will be important for you to positively identify what species of turtle it is. Be aware it is illegal to capture western pond turtles, a native California species, but it is legal to catch and collect non-native turtles (painted, slider and softshell turtles) under authority of a sportfishing license. While there are no bag or possession limits for these non-native turtles, there are restrictions on the methods of take that may be used to catch them (CCR Title 14 Sections 2.00 and 5.60). The only way to legally collect western pond turtles would be if you held a scientific collecting permit (CCR Title 14, section 40(a)). However, these permits are issued only to scientists doing bona fide research.


How to find existing hunting license number?
Question: How can my son find his existing hunting license number? He has his certificate but lost his license. Can you let us know what to do? (Carla B.)

Answer: Your son can contact any CDFW office that issues licenses or any outside vendor that sells hunting licenses, and ask them to look it up. He will just need to provide either a driver license number, or if too young to have one, provide the parent’s identification information that the previous license was purchased under.

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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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Hunting exotic ranch animals on private lands?

Non native animals kept behind confining fences are not classified as either game or nongame wildlife. Thus, no hunting regulations apply. (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: What is the law in regard to hunting “exotic ranch animals” on private lands? I see an advertisement for hunts (pigs, goats, etc.) with no tags or licenses required. These hunts are offered 24/7 year-round. How can this be legal? (Monty S.)

Answer: Imported animals that are not native to California and that are put behind a confining fence are not classified as either game or nongame wildlife. They are considered domestic animals/livestock and are not covered by state Fish and Game laws, so hunting regulations do not apply and no hunting licenses or tags are required.

Feral (domestic animals that have reverted to the wild) goats and a number of other species that have become wild in California are covered under nongame laws (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 472). A hunting license is required to take any nongame animals listed in this section.

Most of the hunts you describe would fall into the first category. These are generally referred to as “canned” hunts where the animals are turned loose in an area or enclosure where they cannot escape or become feral. In this case, it is not considered hunting and so no license or tags are required. There have been some cases where prohibited species, such as tigers, have been brought unlawfully into California for canned hunts. If the exotic animal is not a prohibited species and not covered under section 472, then hunting licenses and tags are not required.


What to do with banded waterfowl?
Question: This past weekend a banded speckled-belly goose was taken at my duck club. I’d like to report this banded bird to the authorities. The time, date and place, as well as the tag number seem obvious to report. Is there any other information needed, and who should I report this band to? (Larry L.)

Answer: Since waterfowl are migratory, the U.S. Geological Survey has the responsibility of collecting and analyzing all banding information. Government and private sector scientists and waterfowl managers tag and monitor migratory waterfowl every year. This banding information helps them to assess population numbers and track their movement patterns. You may also be asked to provide information about weather and any other waterfowl the goose was flying with when taken. Please go to http://www.reportband.gov to report banded birds.


Target shooting and hunting on private property?
Question: I live on 20 acres out in the country and am thinking about purchasing a .22 rifle so that I can target practice or maybe even hunt on my land. Is it legal for me to do this? (Jerry M.)

Answer: Generally, if you live in an unincorporated area, you may discharge a firearm. However, we strongly recommend that you first check with your county sheriff’s office before doing so as there may be county ordinances that prohibit discharging firearms in your particular area.

To hunt on your property, you still must have a valid hunting license. If you don’t already have one, you will need to first take a hunter education course. In addition, even if hunting on your property, you must still remain at least 150 yards (450 feet) away from any of your neighbors’ houses, barns and outbuildings, etc unless they have given you permission to hunt closer.

A .22 caliber rimfire rifle is only legal for a few species, such as rabbits, squirrels and some nongame species. With few exceptions, all federal and California fish and game laws are in effect on all properties no matter whether they are public or private lands.


Shark spear fishing from a kayak?
Question: Is it legal to spear leopard sharks from a kayak with a pole spear (better known as a Hawaiian sling)? I know I can legally fish for them here in the Morro Bay area, and I’ve read that the rules and regulations for fishing also apply to spear fishing. But, can I actually spear them while sitting in my kayak? They cruise about six to 12 inches below the surface while about five to 20 yards off shore. I’ve seen many of these sharks measuring five feet long and know that I’ll probably need to enter the water with the shark after it has been speared in order to land it. Nevertheless, I believe I can do it. Please let me know if this is legal. (Dan W., Morro Bay)

Answer: Yes, with the exception of white sharks, it is legal to spear sharks from a kayak (California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 28.90 and 28.95). Leopard sharks have a bag limit of three and a minimum length requirement of 36 inches.

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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.