Category Archives: Roadways

Protecting Wildlife via Highway Fences

Game fences are installed primarily installed just along traditional migratory routes (USFWS photo of Tule elk bulls)

Game fences are primarily installed along traditional deer and elk migratory routes (Tule elk photo courtesy of USFWS)

Question: I have been hunting deer and elk out of state for years. Every western state I have hunted has installed game fencing adjacent to highways where big game frequents and/or migrates. Why in the heck doesn’t California do this? I live in Grass Valley and Interstate Highway 49 is always being widened, but never does the work include game fencing or game “underpasses.” I have never seen or read any information coming from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recommending game fencing along California highways. (Sven O.)

Answer: We do install game fencing but don’t do it everywhere. Because game fences are expensive, they are primarily installed just along the major migration routes. If designed incorrectly, they can do much more damage than good. Keep in mind that California has more than 2.3 million miles of paved road and it would be impossible to fence all of that no matter how much funding we had available.

According to CDFW Game Program Manager Craig Stowers, CDFW has instead focused primarily on routes that migratory deer move through as they are highly traditional and tend to move through the same areas year after year. Then once we identify where those areas are (mostly by finding road kills, but we can also identify through tracks in the snow and/or telemetry data), we work with CalTrans to mitigate those losses. CDFW has found lots of traditional migratory route areas in the state.

Some good examples of this kind of game fencing work include the miles of fencing and under crossings on I-395 from Bordertown up to the Inspection Station just south of the intersection of 395/89, fencing and undercrossings on I-395 in the Bass Hill Wildlife Area just south of Susanville, the work done in the Loyalton-Truckee deer herd area and the work we completed last year in the I-280 area (in conjunction with Caltrans and UC Davis). Our job on that one was simply to catch the deer, which we did. Caltrans engineers and wildlife experts from UC Davis analyzed the movement data of those deer in an effort to modify roadside fencing and existing undercrossings to cut down the number of deer hit on I-280. Regardless of location, it is a very expensive and time-consuming effort, not only to determine where to install the fencing and/or undercrossings, but also to build them.


Underwater camera to find trout?
Question: Is it legal to use an underwater camera to look for trout that may be hiding underneath the creek/river bank? Does it matter if it’s used while engaged in the actual activity of trout fishing or when not in possession of a fishing pole? (Jim B., Elk Grove)

Answer: An electronic viewing device, such as an underwater camera, would be legal but a non-electronic viewing device (such as goggles, scuba mask, etc.), would be prohibited for taking fish (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 2.09). There’s an exception, though, under the provisions of spearfishing (CCR Title 14, section 2.30).


Keeping a skunk for a pet?
Question: I live in Alameda and want to know if it is legal for me to keep a pet skunk? We will, of course, have the stink glands removed for obvious reasons. (Beatrice V.)

Answer: No. Wildlife must remain wild and cannot be owned. Generally, animals found in the wild in California can never be kept as pets. Only people who qualify for a restricted species permit may possess wild animals, like skunks. Keeping wildlife is prohibited by Fish and Game laws (CCR title 14, section 671) and California health laws due to a high incidence of rabies in skunks in California. All wildlife, even skunks, belong to the citizens of California and cannot be held, domesticated…or have their scent glands surgically removed!


Trolling for salmon?
Question: This last weekend while fishing/trolling with my husband for salmon, we had three fish on board and needed one more for the two of us to have limits. My question is – do we need to fish/troll with just one rod as one of us has a limit, or may we fish with two rods until we catch one more fish? (Donna S.)

Answer: You can use two rods until you catch your final fish because boat limits apply in ocean waters. Boat limits are defined as: “When two or more persons that are licensed or otherwise authorized to sport fish in ocean waters … are angling for finfish aboard a vessel…, fishing by all authorized persons aboard may continue until boat limits of finfish are taken and possessed aboard the vessel”.(CCR Title 14, section 27.60(c)).

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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.

Bowfishing for Carp – Hunting or Fishing?

Bowfishing (photo courtesy of Indian Head Ranch www.indianheadranch.com)

Bowfishing requires a fishing license and the arrow must be attached by a line to the bow or to a fishing reel (photo courtesy of Indian Head Ranch http://www.indianheadranch.com)

Question: If I want to shoot carp with a bow, do I need a hunting license or a fishing license? Are there any regulations regarding seasons, bodies of water, or specific tackle or gear that I should plan to use? (Vern D., Stockton)

Answer: While the practice of bowfishing for carp may seem like a combination of hunting and fishing, it is considered fishing and thus you are required to have a fishing license to do so. Sport fishing regulations permit bow and arrow fishing for the following nongame species only: carp, goldfish, western sucker, Sacramento blackfish, hardhead, Sacramento pikeminnow and lamprey (for specific areas and exceptions, see California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 2.25 on page 15 of the sport fishing regulations booklet).

Even though California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) law might allow for bow and arrow fishing in your local area, some lakes and waterways prohibit the possession of bow and arrow equipment. You will need to check with the jurisdiction that runs the body of water (e.g. State Parks, Regional Parks, local county parks, etc.)

When bow and arrow fishing, make sure the tackle has the arrow shaft, the point or both attached by a line to the bow or to a fishing reel. This rule also applies to crossbows (CCR Title 14, section 1.23).


Shooting at varmints from a car roof top?
Question: I know it’s illegal to shoot from your car, but is it legal to park and shoot from the roof of your car for varmints? Thanks. (Harry N.)

Answer: It is always illegal to shoot at a bird or mammal from a car, including from the roof top. The law prohibits possessing a loaded rifle or shotgun in any vehicle which is standing on or along or is being driven on or along any public highway or other way open to the public (Fish and Game Code, section 2006). Loaded guns may be possessed in or on a car only while on private property; however, the law does not allow you to take any bird or mammal from a motor vehicle (CCR Title14, section 251). Remember, the definition of “take” includes any attempt to take, such as shooting at the bird or mammal. Therefore, the only shooting allowed would be target shooting


Fishing for halibut with grunion?
Question: I know that under current regulations grunion can only be caught by hand, I also know that when the grunion come inshore to spawn, the halibut frequently follow along for a feast, and it is a good time to target the flatties. So I am wondering, is it legal for me to take grunion by the legal method (by hand) and then retain them live in a bait bucket to use as live bait for fishing for halibut? Or even more directly, may I take the grunion in legal fashion and hook one up to fish the surf for halibut and other species with rod and reel while the grunion run is in progress? (Martin F.)

Answer: Yes. Grunion may be taken June 1 through March 31 and there is no bag limit. Grunion may be taken by hook and line or by hands. No appliances of any kind may be used on the beach to take them, and no holes may be dug in the sand to entrap them (CCR Title 14, section 29.00). When catching grunion on the beach, we recommend that you wait until after they have spawned and are returning to the ocean to take them.


Can my son carry a BB gun when he comes hunting with me?
Question: When go out hunting I normally take my nine-year-old son. Can my son carry a BB gun legally with him? He will not be using the BB gun to shoot at any wildlife. It mainly gives him that feeling that he is part of the hunting party. Any information you can provide is greatly appreciated. (Jose R. via e-mail)

Answer: I applaud you for introducing your son to the outdoors and including him in your hunting excursions at such a young age! Unless there is a county ordinance prohibiting the discharge of a BB gun or air rifle in the area where you’re hunting, and as long as he is not shooting at wildlife, it should be fine for your son to legally carry his BB gun with you and the rest of your hunting party. Enjoy your time together!

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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.

Diving for Lobsters with Hoop Nets

DFG Marine Biologist Travis Buck holds a California spiny lobster caught in a traditional hoop net (DFG photo)

CDFW Marine Environmental Scientest Travis Buck holds a California spiny lobster caught in a traditional hoop net (CDFW photo)

Question: In regards to catching California spiny lobster, the regulations say the following: Both rigid and collapsible hoop nets may be used from piers and boats. When fishing from a boat, five nets per person are allowed with no more than ten traps on a boat. When fishing from a pier, two hoop nets per person are allowed. Divers are limited to catching lobster by (gloved) hand only.

This leads me to my question. Is it legal for a snorkeler/diver/free diver to swim their hoop nets out to the desired location to drop and then retrieve their traps by hand, while floating in the water? This seems like a good option for people who do not own boats to set traps from and for divers when visibility is so poor that it’s impossible to see lobsters to catch by hand. (Joshua)

Answer: No, you cannot legally take fish hoop nets out to a fishing location while free or scuba diving. The law says that when diving for crustaceans (free or scuba diving), you may take crustaceans by the use of hands only (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.80(g)). If you are in the water, you are diving. You can scout where you want to set your nets when diving, but then you need to stop diving and get out of the water to set and retrieve your hoop nets. If you don’t want to buy or borrow a boat, you can set traps from a kayak, a long board or even a stand up paddle board. Just be sure to wear a life jacket if you do!


Property rights via access by ATV down a dry river bed?
Question: During the last week of deer season, I approached a man riding a 4-wheeler who was obviously hunting since he had a rifle case. He was riding down the dry river bed for over a mile where it’s private property on both sides of the river. He argued with me that he had a right to be there as long as he stayed under the high water mark. I told him he could not be there and could not cross private property at all unless if in a boat and didn’t touch the river bar/land. He got huffy with me so I let it go and he proceeded on his way. What is the law when it comes to a river running through private land? (Heather D.)

Answer: This is a very complicated area of the law and will vary based on the characteristics of the waterway, the ownership of the land, the agencies involved and a number of other factors. In other words, before people get on their ATVs thinking they have the right to ride down dry river beds through private property, they should do some research to see exactly who owns or manages the land, what the characteristics of the dry waterway are and be absolutely sure they have a right to be there and won’t be trespassing. All situations are not the same and the laws may vary from place to place.


Pooling crabs?
Question: What is the boat limit for taking crabs other than Dungeness? I plan to have between two and four people (all with fishing licenses) on my private boat and need to know the answer to this question. Thank you very much for your help. (Jay T.)

Answer: You may not pool your crabs since boat limits apply only to finfish and not to invertebrates (CCR Title 14, section 27.60 (c)). With crabs, individual bag and possession limits apply. For crabs of the Cancer genus (excluding Dungeness crabs) including yellow crabs, rock crabs, red crabs and slender crabs, the limit is 35 crabs per person. Each crab must measure a minimum of four inches from edge of shell to edge of shell at the widest part (except there is no minimum size in parts of Humboldt County).


Bow and arrow hunting with a slingshot?
Question: Can a slingshot be used as a bow or crossbow? Would it be legal to hunt with an arrow and slingshot? (Anonymous)

Answer: Yes, a slingshot can be used as a bow or crossbow as long as it can cast a legal hunting arrow (except flu-flu arrows) a horizontal distance of 130 yards, and as long as it meets one of the definitions of bows and crossbows listed in the Title 14 regulations. To be sure your slingshot meets the requirements, please go to http://www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/, click on “CA Code of Regulations, including Title 14” and look up Title 14, section 354, subdivisions (a), (b) and (f).

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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.

What to Do With Pesky Coyotes?

Coyotes play an important role in the ecosystem by helping to keep rodent populations under control. Relocating a problem coyote is not an option because it only moves the problem to someone else’s neighborhood. (©Carrie Wilson)

Question: For the past 10 months, our neighborhood in Encinitas has been overrun by coyotes. Who can we work with to mitigate the situation before someone gets hurt? (Ken S.)

Answer: Coyotes and other wildlife cannot and should not be removed just because there may appear to be too many in a community. If they are congregating, the problem may be that your neighbors are being careless with food and garbage, which serve as attractants. Coyotes play an important role in the ecosystem by helping to keep rodent populations under control. They are by nature fearful of humans.

Coyotes primarily hunt rodents and rabbits for food but will take advantage of whatever is available, including garbage, pet food and domestic animals. If coyotes are given access to human food and garbage, their behavior changes. They lose caution and fear and may cause property damage or threaten human safety. When this happens and they threaten humans or begin preying on domestic livestock or pets, they may be killed.

Relocating a problem coyote is not an option because it only moves the problem to someone else’s neighborhood.

The best thing you can do as an individual is to make sure that you remove pet food and water containers at night, secure your garbage and don’t provide any areas of shelter. Try to educate your neighbors about this, too. Without food, water and shelter, your property will be less appealing and the coyotes may move on.

Here’s the bottom line … coyotes may appear to reside and be prevalent in your area, but this isn’t a crime as they are natural predators. The problem occurs when people don’t follow the suggestions above and the animals lose their fear of humans and begin threatening people and their pets and livestock. When that happens, the animals may need to be destroyed and we want to avoid that situation.

If all else fails and the animals become a threat, contact the wildlife biologist in your local area (through DFG’s San Diego office, in your case) to discuss your options.

For more information on living with coyotes and other wildlife without conflicts, please check out our Keep Me Wild campaign at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/.


How far off the road to hunt?
Question:How far off the road must one be to begin hunting or to shoot at an animal? I see guys hunting ditches just off the road for pheasants all the time. Also, what constitutes a “road” for this purpose? (Michael O., Woodland)

Answer: According to DFG Lt. Todd Tognazzini, there are several laws that apply to what you describe. The U.S. Forest Service calls for staying off the roadway, and this includes the adjacent “right of way” areas such as the road shoulder or those areas where service vehicles would travel. County ordinances often define the distance allowed from a public roadway where a firearm may be discharged, and it is usually around 150 feet. This can be highly variable though so I suggest you check with the county sheriff for the area where you’ll be hunting to find out.

It is always unlawful to negligently discharge a firearm and the California Penal Code, section 374(c) also prohibits the discharge of a firearm from or upon or along a public road or highway. Definitions for “road” and “roadway” can be found in sections 527 and 530 of the California Penal Code.


Hoop nets as landing platforms for big fish?
Question:More and more anglers are using hoop nets to “catch and release” bat rays and large sharks. The hoop nets are not being used for catching fish – the fish are hooked by rod and reel. Hoop nets are then used to pull big fish up onto the piers. The problem is that the smaller hoop nets are sometimes insufficient for landing the big batties. Is it legal to use a hoop net larger than 36 inches if unbaited and used only for such purposes? ( Ken J., Lodi)

Answer: Yes, the hoop net as you are describing it is being used as a “landing net” and not a typical hoop net as used for lobster. According to Lt. Todd Tognazzini, a landing net has a minimum diameter of 18 inches and no maximum diameter. There is no specific legal definition of a landing net. The only difference between a landing net and a dip net is mesh size, but there is no legal requirement on mesh size either. As long as it is only being used as a landing net, it would be legal.

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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.

Who’s right – the sheriff or me?

Photo by Edward J. Pastula, courtesy of NOAA

Question: Are there any rules on the numbers of fishing rods someone can use for ocean fishing? I had a bad experience recently with an Orange County sheriff who saw me on the Newport Beach jetty fishing with several poles. He told me I was allowed only two poles. I told him I’d seen a sign posted at a nearby pier that said, “Maximum limit three active poles.” The officer said the pier was not following the Fish and Game rules. I told him I thought what applies there also applies here in Newport since Fish and Game rules apply statewide. I presume sheriffs can’t represent Fish and Game regarding fishing rules and should instead be catching fugitives, bad guys and drug traffickers and not bothering fishermen! I didn’t want to argue with an officer with a gun, especially a sheriff who doesn’t know the rules, but I felt the officer was harassing me. (Dandy L., San Bernardino)

Answer: Sheriff’s deputies do enforce Department of Fish and Game (DFG) regulations when they see violations, and in this case, the deputy was correct. When fishing in the ocean from a public pier or jetty, DFG regulations allow for only two rods and lines, two hand lines, or two crab nets, crab traps or other appliances for taking crabs (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.88 specifically describes a jetty as a structure that is “connected to land … and whose purpose is to form the most seaward protective boundary of an ocean harbor …”). If the sign on the nearby pier indicated a three-pole maximum, then it was not a sign that was posted or authorized by the state. City regulations can be more restrictive than state DFG regulations, but not less restrictive.


Distance from the road to hunt?
Question: I’ve heard that you need to be a certain distance from highways and roads when hunting. How far away from the roadway do you need to be before shooting?

Answer: Neither the Fish and Game Code nor the California Penal Code states a specific distance that hunters or shooters need to be from roads. Penal Code section 374(c) most closely addresses this issue as it states, “Every person who shoots any firearm from or upon a public road or highway is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

In essence, this section makes it unlawful to discharge a gun from the highway surface. “Highway” as defined in the California Vehicle Code is a road that is “publicly maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.” Bear in mind, however, that local (e.g. county) ordinances may prohibit the discharge of firearms in certain areas or within certain distances of roads, and in general, most cities do not allow shooting within the city limits. You should check with your county sheriff’s office, too.

Certainly the most important factor, regardless of the law, is public safety. Well- traveled roads and highways are not appropriate places to shoot. If you were to injure another person or livestock, or damage property, you would undoubtedly be subject to civil and possibly criminal prosecution. While shooting just one inch away from a road may be legal, it may not be safe.


Will DFG plant fish in private duck club pond?
Question: A pond on our private duck hunting property was accidentally drained in the last year but has now refilled. Can we have DFG replant it with fish?  (Fishingdude)

Answer: DFG will only plant fish in public waters that are open and available to the public to enjoy. If this is a private pond, you will need to get a private stocking permit from DFG and then buy fish from a commercial fish farm, which may also stock them for you.


Out-of-state hunter safety cert valid here?
Question: I recently moved to California from Michigan and am wondering if I will be required to take another hunter safety class to be able to hunt here? Also, during archery season, are you able to hunt from a tree stand or an elevated platform? (Noah S.)

Answer: California has no restrictions against using tree stands. And no, you will not need to take another hunter safety course as long as you can show proof that you have passed a hunter safety class in Michigan. If you cannot produce a certificate or proof, you will need to complete another course to get your hunting license. Information regarding Hunter Education courses in your area is available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/huntered/index.aspx.

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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.

After I have my bag limit, can I still fish catch-and-release?

Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS

Question: If I catch my limit of the fish I’m fishing for, can I continue fishing catch-and-release? If my buddy doesn’t have his limit, can I fish for him? If I don’t want to keep the fish, can I fish for other people? (Michael H.)

Answer: When fishing in freshwater, each person is allowed to take only one daily bag limit per day. Once you catch your daily limit for a species of fish, you are done fishing for that type of fish.

If you want to catch and release fish, you must do that before you take the last fish of the limit. If you want to give someone your fish, you may do so but those fish will still count toward your daily bag limit, and the person receiving the fish cannot have more than the legal limit in their possession either.

In addition, if you take an overlimit (for example, seven trout when the limit is five), and you give two to someone else, that person is now in possession of illegally taken fish and could be cited, too, even if they are not over their daily bag limit.

When fishing in the ocean, however, boat limits are allowed for anglers fishing from a boat. This means that all anglers can continue fishing until the total numbers of fish on the boat are equal to the total number of fish allowed for every angler, despite who actually caught each fish. Upon departing the boat, each passenger can only possess one daily bag limit.


Can felons legally hunt?
Question:
If I have been convicted of a felony, can I still apply for a hunting license? My felony was considered “white collar” and was non-violent with no weapons involved. (Michael S.)

Answer: Yes, but you must first complete a hunter safety course. Once you have a felony, regardless of the type of crime, you cannot own or possess a firearm. You can obtain a hunting license but will be restricted to shooting archery or crossbow or air rifles only.


Are artificial lures with scent attractants applied still “artificial”?
Question:
I have a question about using scented products on artificial lures fished in rivers where only artificial lures are allowed. The question came up recently while fishing for steelhead from my drift boat on the Mattole River in Humboldt County, where “only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used.” The only definition of an artificial lure I could find was “a man-made lure or fly designed to attract fish.” This definition does not include scented or flavored artificial baits.

Given this, is it legal to apply scented liquids or products to lures while fishing in rivers where only artificial lures may be used? This seems confusing. Does the law prohibit lures with scent impregnated in the lure from the factory, or lures with scent applied by the angler, or both? Any light you can shed on this issue would be greatly appreciated. (North Coast Angler)

Answer: The California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.11 states that an artificial lure “… does not include any scented or artificial baits.” This means that attractants may not be applied to the lure while fishing in waters restricted for artificial lure use.

In addition, some people spray WD-40 on their lures. This substance 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).


Shooting at varmits from a car roof  top?
Question:
I know it’s illegal to shoot from your car, but is it legal to park and shoot from the roof of your car for varmints? Thanks. (Harry N.)

Answer:  Shooting from the roof of your car is only allowed if on private property where public access is prohibited. However, you may not take any bird or mammal from a motor vehicle (CCR Title14, section 251). Remember, the definition of “take” includes any attempt to take, such as shooting at the bird or mammal. Therefore, the only shooting allowed would be target shooting. Otherwise, a loaded gun is not allowed in or on a vehicle driving or parked on or along a road or other way open to the public (FGC, section 2006).

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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.