Category Archives: Roadways

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.