Category Archives: Waterfowl

Can a Hunter Have Two Shotguns in a Duck Blind?

Geese at sunrise (USFWS photo)

Geese at sunrise (USFWS photo)

Question: Is it legal for one person to have two shotguns in a duck blind? (Bob G.)

Answer: Yes, but while it’s legal to have more than one shotgun in your blind, keep in mind there is a 25 shell limit on most public shooting areas (state and federal refuges). Hunters often forget this and bring a box of shells for each gun they have but then find themselves in violation of the 25 shell limit. Also required, each gun must be plugged and not capable of holding more than three shells in the magazine and chamber combined, and lots of times nothing larger than 10 gauge shells are allowed in these areas. For more information, please check the Upland Game Bird Regulations available at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/.


Can I become a fishing guide if I have a citation on my record?
Question: I want to apply for a fishing guide’s license but am worried because I had a hunter trespass citation many years ago that was honestly unintentional. It was a case of poor mapping and unmarked fence lines. I paid my fine and it never went any further. This was 12 years ago and I have never had any other convictions for any sort of law breaking. Does my single-hunter trespass ticket exclude me from applying for guide status in this state? I am seriously interested in teaching others to care for and respect our outdoor privileges and would love to apply for a guide’s license. I don’t want to go through the process and pay all the costs though only to be denied at the time my application is reviewed. Can you please tell me if my mistake from years ago will cause my application to be denied? (Doug M.)

Answer: Because your citation was 12 years ago, it was your only citation and you took care of the fines, you should not have a problem getting a guide’s license. Applicants are evaluated mostly for recent activity (within five years), or repetitive activity. And for applicants who apply but are denied, any application fees are refunded.


How to accurately measure fish?
Question: What is the legal and proper way to measure a fish, particularly largemouth bass? Is it with an open mouth, closed mouth, fanned tail or pinched tail? I would appreciate some fish measuring guidelines to determine whether a catch is legal. Thank you. (Rick B.)

Answer: The first rule when measuring fish is to lay the fish flat on its side and always pinch the mouth closed. All freshwater fish, including largemouth bass, are measured to total length. This is the longest straight-line distance from the tip of the head to the end of the longest lobe of the tail (California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 1.62). The most accurate method is to place the fish’s snout against a perpendicular surface and then measure along the intersecting horizontal surface to the end of the tail. Don’t measure using a flexible “tape” over the fish itself or you will be given a longer false reading. All freshwater fish with a minimum size limit are measured this way.

On the ocean side, most saltwater fish with minimum size limits are measured to total length, but there are some that are measured to fork length instead (e.g. bonito, albacore, barracuda and yellowtail). Fork length is the straight-line distance from the tip of the head to the center of the tail fin (CCR Title 14, Section 1.62). So again, lay the fish flat on its side, pinch the mouth closed and take your measurement from the tip of the head to the center of the fork of the tail. These are the only two measurements that you will need to know for the purposes of the regulations when measuring whole fish.


Giving pheasants away to other hunters to keep hunting?
Question: Once I shoot my limit of pheasants, can I give one of my birds to another hunter in the group and continue hunting? (Jerry)

Answer: No. Once you reach your bag limit you are finished hunting for the day. You can give your birds away to other hunters but that does not then allow you to continue hunting that day.


Underwater lights when ocean fishing?
Question:Is it legal to use underwater attractor lights in ocean waters to attract fish to the boat? (John V.)

Answer: Yes. There are no prohibitions from using underwater attractor lights in ocean waters.

#  #  #

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.

Charity Dinner with Donated Game

Celebrity chef Scott Leyseth from the Sportsmens Channel prepares wild game for a charity event to feed the homeless in Sacramento in Novemer 2013 (Photo courtesy of Holly Heyser)

Celebrity Sporting Chef Scott Leyseth from the Sportsmens Channel prepares wild game for a recent charity event in Sacramento to feed the homeless (Photo courtesy of Holly Heyser)

Question: An organization I belong to wants to do a benefit event with donated fish and game meals prepared for the homeless and the hungry. I know that waterfowl regulations are set by the federal government, but wonder if it may be possible to accept donated wild ducks and geese and turn them into a meal for a few hundred. It would be a one-day event to draw attention to a local shelter and help boost the image of us hunter types as charitable people who help to conserve our resources. At some point, someone is going to be over their possession limit to make this happen. Obviously, we won’t charge for the event, and our organization often leaves a generous donation to the facility, but I always thought there was a possession problem. Whaddaya think? (Scott L.)

Answer: Yes, an event like this can be done. A designated person may receive and possess game birds and mammals from multiple donors to give to or prepare for a charitable organization or charitable entity (under Fish and Game Code, section 3080) as long as they have:

1)    Copies of the hunting licenses and validated tags for the species possessed. They must be issued for the current or immediate past license year and signed and dated by the donor confirming the donation.

2)    The charitable organizations or charitable entities receiving and distributing game birds or mammals for charitable or humane purposes, must maintain the documentation described above for one year from the date of disposal.


Fishing license for collecting seaweed?
Question: Is a fishing license required to collect seaweed? (Jane S., Monterey)

Answer: A fishing license is not required to take seaweed but there is a daily bag limit of 10 pounds wet weight in the aggregate. There are three prohibited species that may not be cut or disturbed: eel grass (Zostera), surf grass (Phyllospadix) and sea palm (Postelsia).


Legal shoot time
Question: If you are sitting in your duck blind waiting for legal shooting time, and you have a shotgun loaded and ready to go (in other words shells in the magazine and chamber), can you be cited for hunting before legal shooting time? Some say yes since you’re loaded up and ready to go, so you are technically “hunting” (even if you have the shotgun sitting in the corner of the blind and never touch it until the legal shoot time). Others say it’s legal because you aren’t shooting … so as long as you don’t fire the gun, you’re good. Who’s right? (Eric M.)

Answer: As long as you make no attempt to take a duck, there is no violation for loading your gun as you wait for legal shooting time. However, having a live round in the chamber while you are waiting is not advised for safety reasons.


Abalone reporting
Question: How do I go about reporting my annual abalone harvest take? I just want to find out where I should go on the website to report my abalone harvest. Otherwise, do I have to mail the original in by mail? Please advise. (Richard S.)

Answer: You have two options. You can either report your abalone harvest date online at www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/harvestreporting, or you can mail your completed Abalone Report Cards to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
32330 N. Harbor Drive
Fort Bragg, CA 95437-5554

Cards or card data must be submitted to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) by Jan. 31, 2014, even if the card holder did not take or even try to take abalone. If you choose to report online, you must still retain the card for 90 days in case the CDFW requests you to also mail it in. All card data provides information necessary for annual take estimates. If the abalone card return rate is not adequate for catch estimates, the CDFW will consider penalties for failing to return cards.


Fishing for sturgeon
Question: When sturgeon fishing, is it true we cannot use sinkers on leaders or steel leaders? I don’t find these laws stated in the regulations booklet, so are they true? (Mon S., Stockton)

Answer: When fishing for sturgeon, only one single barbless hook may be used on a line (see California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 5.80 and 27.90.) The use of sinkers or steel leaders while fishing for sturgeon is not prohibited in most waters, but the use of any hook that is attached closer than 18 inches to any weight exceeding one half ounce is prohibited (CCR Title 14, section 2.10(b)(2)). (Exception: Sacramento River from Keswick Dam to the Highway 162 Bridge, no wire leaders may be used and no sturgeon may be taken.)

#  #  #

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.

Target Shooting Directly Next to a Wetland

Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (Photo by Robert Sahara)

Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (Photo by Robert Sahara)

Question: I was walking the Yolo Bypass Levee north of I-80 this weekend and saw a group shooting from the levee at some targets that were placed right next to the slough and adjacent wetlands to the east. If waterfowl hunters are required to use nonlead shot to prevent incidental lead poisoning, shouldn’t target shooters firing where their shot will enter the wetland also have to use nonlead shot?

It was also disappointing to see a lot of spent shells, clay target debris and glass left all over the ground. Is there any particular regulation prohibiting this? Thanks, (Beckye S.)

Answer: California Fish and Wildlife laws don’t prohibit the use of lead ammunition for target shooting, but they do prohibit people from depositing garbage, shells, glass, etc. within 150 feet of state waters (Fish and Game Code, section 5652.) If you see this again, please call CalTip at 888-334-2258 and report it.


Legal to drop Dungeness crab traps the day/night before opener?
Question: Is it legal to drop Dungeness crab gear prior to opening day? I’ve heard it’s legal to drop gear the day or night before opening day to let it soak overnight. I looked in the Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet but couldn’t find anything indicating whether this is legal or not. If it is legal, how long before opening day can it be dropped? And how early can it be retrieved? (Fred S.)

Answer: Dungeness crab gear may not be set prior to the recreational fishing season opening date, which this year is Saturday, Nov. 2 at 12:01 a.m. (see California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 29.85(a) and the definition of take in Fish and Game Code section 86.)  Anyone setting gear prior to this date and time may be cited for attempting to take crab out of season.


Looking for a fishing guide
Question: We are planning a trip to Oakland in December. Since I will be in meetings every day, my husband would love to go fishing. How can I find an honest and reputable fishing guide? (Christy L.)

Answer: A list of licensed fishing guides can be found online at www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/specialpermits/ (click on “Lists” and then “Fishing Guides (PDF).” Other than this, your best bet is to do a Google search for the different guides around San Francisco Bay, and investigate feedback from customers, which is also likely available online.


Donating game for fundraising dinners?
Question: Can pigs taken by hunters as well as pigs taken under depredation permits be donated for use at a fund-raising dinner? (Mike H.)

Answer: Yes, as long as those donating the animals receive no compensation for their donations and as long as the patrons are not paying for the dinner itself. It is illegal for animals taken under the authority of a hunting license or depredation permit to be bought, sold, traded or bartered.


Chumming
Question: Can you help settle a debate please? Is intentionally chumming or blood baiting from shore or the pier permissible in California ocean waters? What specific regulations or laws apply? (Heather H.)

Answer: Yes, chumming in ocean waters is permitted statewide (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.05).


Fish trapping from a pier
Question: I don’t have a fishing license because I know I am allowed to fish and catch some crab from a public pier. I am wondering though if I am allowed to use a trap to catch fish. The trap would be a mesh cage made of nylon (or another type of durable material). It would have an opening, be attached to a float to keep it about five feet beneath the surface of the water, and have a main line going back up to the pier where I will have the rope tied down to the railing. I am targeting fish, like mackerel. Does this plan all sound alright? (Dave L.)

Answer: No. Taking mackerel or most other finfish in a trap under a sport fishing license is not permitted. Only a handful of baitfishes (shiner surfperch, longjaw mudsuckers, Pacific staghorn sculpin) may be taken by traps that meet certain dimensions in certain areas of the coast. For details, please see Section 28.75 on pg. 46 of the current Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet, which is available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations, at local California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) offices or wherever sport fishing licenses are sold.

#  #  #

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.