Category Archives: Archery

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.

GPS Collars on Dogs While Hunting?

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GPS collars may be used on dogs only when bird hunting but are prohibited when hunting mammals (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: My dog is often hard to follow when we’re hiking through heavy cover. Is it legal to use GPS tracking devices on dogs while hunting? (Mark M.)

Answer: GPS collars may be used on dogs only when bird hunting but are prohibited when hunting mammals. Electronic dog retrieval collars employing the use of global positioning system equipment (devices that utilize satellite transmissions) are prohibited on dogs used for the pursuit/take of mammals (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 265(d)(2)).


Lighted fishing lures
Question: I have begun to see fishing lures for sale on eBay that are LED-lighted. Are these legal in California? I fish the Sacramento and Feather rivers. (Donna B.)

Answer: Yes. There are no prohibitions against using LED-lighted lures in either fresh or salt water.


Can I carry a gun for protection during archery-only season?
Question: I am an avid bow hunter and spend most of the archery season stalking deer and bear in the deep canyons, and walking from ridgeline to ridgeline carrying nothing but my bow and my two knives.

However, I have not been able to continue my tradition of solo crosscountry hunting trips recently due to the high numbers of marijuana gardens being found and raided in my hunting zone. I am not sure of the ethnicity of the marijuana farmers, but I have family in south Texas and they have told me stories of the Mexican drug cartels kidnapping people and forcing them to go into the wilderness and farm these big marijuana gardens. These people have strict orders to shoot anyone that may cause a threat to the crop.

After hearing this, I stay a whole lot closer to main roads and out of canyons but am still fearful of being confronted by these guys with guns when I just have my bow and the bear deterrent I carry in bear country. My question is why can’t I, being an American citizen, have a firearm in my possession while bow hunting? Doesn’t the Second Amendment give me the right to bear arms? This was just a question that crossed my mind today as I was deer hunting and I hope you can answer it for me. (Vincent W.)

Answer: I appreciate your concern and understand you wanting to be safe while in the woods. But, under current California Fish and Game laws, if you choose to hunt during an archery-only (AO) season or during the general season under the authority of an AO harvest tag, it is not legal for you to be in possession of a firearm while in the field.

However, AO tags/seasons are only one option, you can instead choose to hunt during the general season under a general tag with a bow, and if so you may carry a firearm. Hunting under the AO authority grants special opportunity in exchange for leaving the firearm in camp.

With respect to archery-only hunts for deer, in order to allow the possession of firearms by anyone other than peace officers, Fish and Game Code, section 4370 would have to be amended. For other archery-only hunts, the Fish and Game Commission would need to amend the applicable regulations for those hunts. It is not up to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).


Ivory piano keys
Question: My mother has an old piano that has been in her family for about 70 years and she needs to sell it. She says it has ivory keys. We were wondering if it would violate any Fish and Game laws to sell it? If so, any suggestions? (Cathi D.)

Answer: African and Asian elephants are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principle federal agency responsible for implementing and enforcing the ESA and CITES, and federal regulations do allow for some elephant ivory to be owned, bought, and sold. You should contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at (800) 344-9453 or their website at www.fws.gov for further information regarding federal restrictions.

As far as state regulations, the California Penal Code section 653o (a) says, “It is unlawful to import into this state for commercial purposes, to possess with intent to sell, or to sell within the state, the dead body, or any part or product thereof, of any … elephant.”


Ocean stamp needed for pier fishing?
Question: Do we need an ocean enforcement stamp to fish on a pier? (Sher K.)

Answer: No sport fishing license or Ocean Enhancement Validation is required when fishing from a public pier.

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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.

Archery Practice Down a Dirt Road?

(Photo by Michigan DNR)

The most important factor to always keep in mind while archery shooting is public safety (Photo by Michigan DNR)

Question: My neighbor who lives a few houses down from me has a 15-year-old son who shoots his BB gun in his backyard. I used to shoot my bow in my backyard until my dad found out it’s illegal. I am 13 and live in the mountains of Southern California (close to San Bernardino) and am hoping it might be legal to practice my archery by shooting down a dirt road? Can you please let me know ASAP? Thanks. (Ashmanger)

Answer: Generally, Fish and Game Code laws only regulate the use of archery equipment or firearms while hunting. However, the same rules for firearms apply to archery equipment in this situation – you may not shoot over or across a road or within 150 yards of a neighbor’s home, barns or outbuildings, even if just archery target shooting (Fish and Game Code, section 3004). If you are on a private road on private property (off the public roadway), no Fish and Game Code law prohibits target practice with your bow and arrow. Beyond this, different counties and communities may have more restrictive ordinances that they enforce so you should check with your local law enforcement office for this information.

The most important factor to always keep in mind is public safety. Well-traveled roads and highways, or even those occasionally traveled, are not appropriate places to shoot. If you were to injure another person or livestock, or damage property, you could be subject to civil and possibly criminal prosecution. While shooting even just off a road may be legal, it may not be safe.


Hooks for salmon in San Francisco Bay?
Question: When fishing for salmon from the bank in the San Francisco Bay with spinning lures, is a single barbless hook ok or does it have to be a barbless circle hook attached to the spinning lure? (Terry D.)

Answer: Barbless circle hooks are only required when fishing with bait and angling by any means other than trolling. Since you’re not using bait, no circle hooks are required, even though you are not trolling. You must be doing both things – using bait, and fishing in a manner that is not trolling – to be required to use barbless circle hooks. In addition, you should be using no more than two single-point, single-shank barbless hooks with your spinning lure (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.80.)


Fishing attractant or pollutant?
Question: I have heard that spraying WD-40 on a fishing lure as a fish attractant works well. Is it legal to use? There seems to be much confusion as to what is actually in WD-40. I would also like to know if the sunscreen I put on before entering the water is hazardous to marine life. (Ray I.)

Answer: It is not legal to spray WD-40 on your fishing lures as an attractant. The same goes for any substance that may be harmful to fish (e.g. sunscreen).WD-40 contains petroleum and is specifically prohibited by law to be deposited or introduced into the waters of the state (Fish and Game Code, section 5650). When it comes to sunscreen, I would just try to use discretion as any foreign substance, even sunscreen, may carry chemicals that may be harmful to fish and other aquatic life if introduced in large enough quantities. General rule of thumb is when applying sunscreen, wait 20 minutes before swimming for it to completely soak into skin so that it is less likely to wash off in the water.


How to determine private vs public property?
Question: How do I find if a body of water is legal to fish out of? I am wondering about a local lake with a public road that leads up to it. There are no private property signs posted anywhere. However, from a boat you can see signs are posted in some of the yards. (Anonymous)

Answer: Even though private property perimeters are required to be either fenced, under cultivation, or posted with no trespassing signs at 1/3 of a mile intervals (Penal Code Section 602.8) so the public knows or can determine correctly if the property is private, it’s best to stay on the safe side. If you can’t find signs specifically prohibiting access, trespassing and fishing, you may want to contact your local sheriff’s office, which should be able to define which waters and properties are public, which are private and where the boundaries are.

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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.

The most important factor to always keep in mind while archery shooting is public safety