Category Archives: Archery

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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Hunting From a Houseboat?

Houseboat on Lake Shasta (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Houseboat on Lake Shasta (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: On Lake Shasta, I have heard of incidents where an archer shoots at deer on the shoreline adjacent to a beached houseboat. Is this a violation of Fish and Game Code, section 3004 which forbids the discharge of a deadly weapon within 150 yards of an occupied dwelling, residence or building? In addition, people on houseboats often throw out fruit and salad scraps for the deer to eat, so the deer have become conditioned to looking for an easy meal from houseboaters when they beach the boats. The deer wander down close to the houseboats where unscrupulous archers in houseboats or small aluminum boats prowl the shorelines near the houseboats looking for an easy kill. I can’t believe it’s legal to hunt deer from boats like this. What’s the law? Thanks for all you do. (John D., Shasta County)

Answer: Archery hunting from boats on Lake Shasta is a common practice and perfectly legal provided certain rules are followed. The lake is managed by the U.S. Forest Service and no hunting is allowed around boat ramps, marinas or campgrounds. Houseboats are considered dwellings (per FGC, section 3004), so hunting and discharging a firearm or bow within 150 yards is prohibited unless the hunters have specific permission from the boat’s occupants in advance. Hunting from boats is legal as long as when shooting the boat is not moving under the power or influence of a motor or sails (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 251(a)(1)). Feeding deer and all big game is illegal, and this includes tossing out fruits and salad scraps for the deer (CCR Title 14, section 251.3). I you see any of this activity going on, please call 1-888-DFG–CALTIP to report violations.


Dogs hunting fish?
Question: Some friends of mine recently sent me photos of their yellow lab “hunting” fish in a stream. They claim the dog can track and then bite the fish right out of the water. The dog then brings the fish (while still flopping) back up the beach to his master, where the fish then get cleaned and cooked. Apparently, this practice is legal back East where my friends live, so now I’m wondering about California. Can dogs be used/trained to “hunt” fish here? Since this is clearly a kind of “take,” is it legal? If so, what kind of license/tag would one need? (Thom C.)

Answer: If you review sections 2.00-2.45 in both the freshwater and ocean sport fishing regulation books, you will find the approved methods of take for harvesting fish, and using a dog is not a listed legal option (California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 2.00– 2.45).


Sharing a hunt?
Question: My hunting partner has been very assiduous in accumulating points toward a cow elk hunt and estimates that he has two chances in three this year of getting a tag. He invited me along to help cut up the carcass and to share the meat. My question is can I can bring a rifle in case a finishing shot is needed? We would only tag one elk in any case, and naturally my hunting partner would get the first shot. He’s a pretty good shot so I expect the animal to go down quickly. I’m just wondering (Walter M., Lakewood).

Answer: Leave your rifle at home unless you have a tag. The only person authorized to take or assist in taking the elk is the person with the tag.


Residency requirements to buy a fishing license?
Question: I recently went to buy a California fishing license and noted I must declare that I have resided in California continuously for the past six months. My issue is I have residences in California, Idaho and Arizona. I utilize all of them during the year but don’t spend more than six months in any one of them. Do I have to buy a non-resident license in all three states? I’m a little confused so can you please clarify the law for my situation. (G. Dzida, Redlands)

Answer: California law is clear on the definition of a “resident.” A resident is defined as any person who has resided continuously in California for six months or more immediately before the date of application for a license, or persons on active military duty with the armed forces of the United States or an auxiliary branch or Job Corps enrollees.

If you are not a California resident by this definition, you cannot purchase a California resident license. However, if you have an Arizona fishing license with Colorado River Special Use Stamp affixed to it, you may take fish from a boat or other floating device on the Colorado River or adjacent waters that form the California-Arizona border.

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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.

Golden Sturgeon?

(CDFW photo)

Ryan Mayfield holding a white sturgeon (CDFW photo by Harry Morse)

Question: I caught a couple of sturgeon recently that were golden around the edges of the fins. I called them “golden sturgeon” but have never heard of sturgeon being this color. They were 40-45 inches in length. Could they just be young white sturgeon, or are they something else? (Dan)

Answer: According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Sturgeon Monitoring Program Manager Marty Gingras, California has only green and white sturgeon, and those species have never been hybridized. We’ve never seen or received reports of a white sturgeon that looked golden. A “golden sturgeon” is most likely a green sturgeon that appears a bit golden. Please remember that green sturgeon may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 5.81(b)).

To differentiate between green and white sturgeon, here are a few quick and easy tips:

  • Dorsal scutes (bony plates) – Greens have 1-2 dorsal scutes trailing the dorsal fin, but on white sturgeon they are absent
  • Vent – Greens have the vent between the pelvic fins, but on white sturgeon it’s found toward the tail
  • Belly stripe – Present on greens but absent on white sturgeon.
  • Scutes along the side – Greens have 23-30 scutes while whites have 38-48

The first three characteristics above are most readily apparent and should help correctly identify the species. Sometimes the bluntness of the snout and location of barbels is mentioned, but these are variable and somewhat subjective.

You mentioned the fish you caught were 40-45 inches in length and you wondered if they were young. Unfortunately, not much is known about green sturgeon, but white sturgeon of that size are usually 10-15 years old, and quite likely have not yet  spawned for the first time.

For more information on sturgeon, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Resources/Sturgeon/.


Are lighted arrow nocks legal for bowhunting?
Question: I would like to use luminocks or nocturnal lighted nocks on my hunting arrows to help better recover arrows after the shot. I’ve heard current laws were being amended to allow the use of lighted nocks on arrows for bowhunting. I plan to hunt for bear and deer but want to be sure they are legal in California? (Carl)

Answer: Yes. As of July 1, 2013, the following regulation was amended to specifically allow lighted nocks. Please see the last sentence below.

CCR Title 14, section 354(c): For the taking of big game, hunting arrows and crossbow bolts with a broad head type blade which will not pass through a hole seven-eighths inch in diameter shall be used. Mechanical/retractable broad heads shall be measured in the open position. For the taking of migratory game birds, resident small game, furbearers and nongame mammals and birds any arrow or crossbow bolt may be used except as prohibited by subsection (d) below. Notwithstanding the general prohibition of the use of lights in Fish and Game Code section 2005, arrows or crossbow bolts with lighted nocks that do not emit a directional beam of light may be used.


Video while fishing
Question: I am an avid videographer and I like to take a lot of video while fishing. I recently purchased a camera mount that will allow me to take underwater fishing videos while trolling. My plan is to set this up on a separate pole with heavy line to drag behind the boat as we fish. The only thing on the end of the line will be the weight and camera. There will be no lures or hooks on the line. The video will not be used in an attempt to take fish. Instead, I will use it later when I edit videos of my trip to provide hook up and action scenes. Is any of this against fish and game regulations? Can having the camera mounted at the end of the line on a pole not being used for fishing be considered as another rod in the water? Just want to make sure I am not doing anything wrong in case we get checked by a warden. (Gerry M.)

Answer: As long as the rod is used only for video equipment and is not as an additional rod to take salmon, this is all legal.


Replacing lost deer tags
Question: After a long search I am certain I have lost my deer tags. How do I get replacements before my hunt next Saturday? (Jim C., Yuba City)

Answer: Replacing a lost or destroyed big game tag (deer, bear and pig tags) can be done only through a CDFW license sales office and requires signing an affidavit and paying a fee of $9.79.  The duplicate tag can be obtained in person or through the mail.

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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.