Category Archives: Waterfowl

Drifting for Waterfowl

(Photo courtesy of David A. Jones, Ducks Unlimited)

(Photo courtesy of David A. Jones, Ducks Unlimited)

Question: Is it legal to drift down or anchor a boat in a river to hunt for waterfowl? The river is in the “Balance of the State” zone and is surrounded by unincorporated privately owned farmland, with the occasional house or barn visible from the water. I know you cannot discharge a firearm within 150 yards of a dwelling or near a public road, and I know that all motors must be out of the water. Would drifting be considered forward motion? (Anonymous)

Answer: Drifting is not considered “under power.” What you describe would be legal as long as you access the river from a legal access point, and once you’re hunting, your motion is not due to momentum provided by the motor before it was turned off. You must also take into account the retrieval of the birds you take. Should you take a bird that lands on private property that you do not have the authority to access, you run the risk of a hunting trespass for retrieval, or waste of game if you do not retrieve it. Also, you need to remember not to discharge a firearm within 150 yards of an occupied dwelling, and these may be difficult to see from the river. Finally, there may be other state or local ordinances and regulations (such as no shooting zones) or other restrictions that may prevent you from hunting the section of water you want to hunt.


Returning female Dungeness crabs
Question: I was surprised to discover the current regulations do not say female Dungeness crabs must be thrown back. Has there been a change in the long standing regulation that required this? Is it now legal to keep the female Dungeness crab, providing all other stipulations are met (size, season, limit, zone)? (Kurt H.)

Answer: Yes! Sport fisherman may keep the female Dungeness crab – commercial fishermen must throw them back. Since the females are often much smaller and less meaty than the males and lack the large claws, many fishermen toss them back so they can reproduce more young for future generations. The larger females that meet the minimum size requirements also carry the most eggs and produce the most offspring, so it’s beneficial for the population to let the females go. However, there is no law that compels you to do so.


How to legally display mountain lions?
Question:I read where Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed into law a bill allowing the mounting and display of these animals in California. Does that mean that mountain lions taken in other states can be brought into California for mounting and display? (Peter B., Los Angeles)

Answer: No, it is still illegal to import mountain lions. Fish and Game Code section 4800, which was enacted via an initiative measure in 1990, provides that mountain lions are specially protected mammals that cannot be taken or possessed except under limited circumstances related to public safety or protection of property. SB 769, which amended the law in 2011, now allows for the possession of a mountain lion carcass, but only if all of the following requirements are met:

1) The lion was legally taken in California;

2) The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has specifically authorized the possession for the purposes of SB 769; and

3) The carcass is prepared for display, exhibition, or storage, for a bona fide scientific or educational purpose, at a non-profit museum or government-owned facility generally open to the public or at an educational institution, including a public or private postsecondary institution.

Only mountain lions taken for depredation or public safety reasons in accordance with the Fish and Game Code will fall within the SB 769 exception allowing possession of displayed mountain lions.


Yo-yo fishing
Question: I know jug fishing, yo-yo fishing and the use of trotlines with 20+ hooks per line are the norm in the South. I am interested in yo-yo fishing in California for catfish and possibly trying a two-jug trotline with 10 to 12 hooks on the line to catch catfish. My question is: In California, are private (non-commercial) fishermen limited to just one line with three hooks max? In reading the regs, it seems that an extra pole endorsement is just that, for an extra pole, not an extra line. (Mark H., San Bruno)

In regard to yo-yo fishing and trotline fishing, here is an article from 2007 Outdoor Life:http://www.outdoorlife.com/articles/fishing/2007/09/tackle-free-fishing

Answer: You must closely attend your lines at all times and you are limited to two lines with a maximum of three hooks on each line with a two-pole stamp. Otherwise, you must use a single line with three hooks maximum when fishing bait, or three lures per line which could each have three hooks. It is illegal to allow lines to simply fish themselves while attached to a float. For a similar previous question and answer, please go to: http://californiaoutdoors.wordpress.com/2008/11/.

# # #

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.

Do Crippled Birds Add to My Bag Limit?

Ethical hunters will make every attempt to find a downed bird and count it to their bag whether they find it or not. (USFWS photo)

Ethical hunters will make every attempt to find a downed bird and count it to their bag whether they find it or not. (USFWS photo)

Question: I was informed that a downed crippled bird that was not recovered, even though a true effort was made to find the downed bird, still counts toward your bag limit. Where is this stated in the regulations? (Aaron W.)

Answer: It is not in regulation. It is an ethical hunter issue. Ethical hunters will make every attempt to find a downed bird. Even if that bird is never located but the hunter knows it was hit, the ethical hunter will still count it towards their bag limit. Ethical hunters do what is right even when they think no one’s looking.


Fishing and retrieving lobster hoop nets
Question: I understand that each person that drops a hoop net must be the same person that retrieves it. How is this going to be monitored? If we have four people in the boat and 10 nets, are we supposed to somehow mark each net to distinguish whose is whose? (Bill J.)

Answer: The law states that the owner of the hoop net or the person who placed the hoop net into the water shall raise the hoop net to the surface and inspect the contents of the hoop net at intervals not to exceed two hours.

According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Lt. Eric Kord, the intent of this law is to require a minimum checking interval of every two hours at least by whoever placed the net in the water and not to cite somebody for pulling up their buddy’s net. Wardens understand if you are working together as a team, but any net placed into the water is your responsibility to raise and inspect every two hours. Depending on someone else to do that for you may result in you receiving a citation if they fail to comply with this requirement.


Filleting salmon on board
Question:Can a private fisherman filet a fresh-caught salmon on the Sacramento River while retaining the carcass? I ask because I am of the opinion the salmon is not a size or weight limit fish. Does this change the answer? (Leslie G.)

Answer: You are correct that there is no minimum size or weight for salmon caught in the Sacramento River as there is in the Klamath River and ocean. This means Fish and Game Code, section 5508, does not prohibit anglers from filleting salmon caught from the Sacramento River. However, Fish and Game Code, section 5509 provides it is unlawful to possess on any boat or to bring ashore any fish in such a condition that the species cannot be determined. Since there are multiple species and runs of salmonids in the Sacramento River, and it is difficult to determine which is which based only on fillets, anglers shouldn’t filet salmon until they are ashore.

Anglers taking salmon from the shore are not affected by this prohibition and not restricted from filleting their catch. Retention of the carcass is not required.


What to do with old abalone shells?
Question: I know that abalone shells may not be sold, but what about shells found on private residential property? In this case, abalone shells had been used for landscape decoration and were removed in a clean up of that property. Can they be sold or given away? What about buying abalone shells from retail shops such as those located on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco or other retail tourist destinations where they display these shells for sale? If someone does buy a shell from one these tourist shops, would the purchaser be violating any DFG regulation for that purchase and possession? Does the Lacey Act of 1900 apply?

What do private citizens do if in fact they encounter abalone shells that have been used for landscape decoration and are in the ground and have been for some years? What about unsuspecting people who obtain shells at a retail tourist shop? How do they ensure they do not inadvertently run afoul of any DFG regulation? (Dr. Thomas G.P. Luparello, D.C. (Ret.))

Answer: California fish and game laws that protect abalone apply to all parts of the fish, including the shell. Under these laws, shells of sport-caught abalone may not be sold.

However, there are many abalone fisheries throughout the world, there was a commercial abalone fishery in California until 1993 and abalone are lawfully produced and sold by aquaculture facilities. The prohibition on selling sport-caught abalone shells does not apply to the shells of these abalone.

Additional information regarding this valuable and vulnerable resource is available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/invertebrate/abalone.asp.

#  #  #

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.

Is it Legal to Ship Abalone to Others as Gifts?

Abalone must be shipped whole, in the shell with the tags attached (DFG photo)

Question: Is it legal to ship harvested red abalone as gifts within California and also out of state if the abalone is tagged and still in the shell? If yes, anything else we should be aware of? (Michelle G.)

Answer: There are ways to gift abalone to an out-of-state person, but you would have to abide by the following laws and check with out-of-state officials to make sure they allow importation of abalone. The following laws affect how abalone are shipped out of state:

  • No more than the legal bag and possession limit of three abalone may be possessed at any time (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.15(c)). Therefore, you cannot ship more that three abalone at a time. Otherwise, the shipper and the person picking up the abalone would be exceeding the possession limit.
  • It is unlawful for a common carrier or his agent to transport, or offer for transport, or to receive for transportation from, any one person, during any interval of time, more than the bag limit of birds, mammals, fish, or amphibia which may legally be taken and possessed by such person during that interval (Fish and Game Code, sections 2346 and 2347).
  • Abalone in possession (including transportation) shall not be removed from their shell, except at which time they are being prepared for immediate consumption (CCR Title 14, section 29.15(g)).
  • Abalone must be shipped whole, in the shell with the tags attached (CCR Title 14, section 29.15(g)).
  • Any package in which birds, mammals, fish, or amphibia, or parts thereof are offered for transportation to, or are transported or received for transportation by, a common carrier or his agent shall bear the name and address of the shipper and of the consignee and an accurate description of the numbers and kinds of birds, mammals, fish, or amphibia contained therein clearly and conspicuously marked on the outside thereof (FGC, section 2348).
  • Fish and Game Code Section 2349 prohibits shipping of wildlife via the parcel post, so you will need to use a private shipper.

Again, different states may have regulations that prohibit or restrict the shipment of abalone. You should check with state authorities for their requirements. For example, here are some of the California laws regarding bringing abalone INTO California. Other states may have a similar law(s):

  • Importing Abalone – Abalone or abalone meat legally taken outside this state may be imported into this state when accompanied by a U. S. customhouse entry certificate showing the place of origin, and a certificate or clearance from the responsible governmental agency to the effect that such shipment was made in compliance with the laws and regulations of the place or country of origin, and such abalone or abalone meat may be possessed in this state and shipped or transported out of the state, but all containers of such abalone shall be marked with the abalone’s place or country of origin (FGC, section 2371).
  • All species of Haliotis except our native species are on the Restricted Species list (CCR Title 14, section 671), which means that a restricted species permit is needed to import such live animals for any reason (including terminal food, hobby aquarium markets). Abalone are on the restricted list because of concerns that some very important diseases know to occur in some abalone in Australia and Asia could find their way to California abalone, and we need to prevent this from happening.

Waterfowl possession limit
Question: If I have a current valid hunting license and appropriate state and federal duck stamps, can I transport more than two limits in my vehicle if I am by myself and the other limits are properly tagged and dated with the other hunters’ license number? Or will that put me in violation of the possession limit? (Dick T.)

Answer: This would be legal. Just be sure that the tag contains ALL of the information required by law, including the date of kill, species and sex of the duck as well as the name, address, hunting license number and signature of the hunter.


Selling Deer Hides?
Question: I’m a hide tanner and was recently talking with a butcher about getting deer hides from him but he was worried about giving them to me. He seemed to think that I would need to have a deer tag for every deer hide. Can you tell me what the legalities are concerning deer hides? I would like to make use of the hides that are being thrown away. Also, do you know of any deer hide sources for me? (David Creamer)

Answer: It is legal to buy and sell (or gift) lawfully taken deer hides (Fish and Game Code, section 4303). The person receiving the hides is not required to have a hunting license or tag. However, it’s a good idea for both parties involved to keep records of the transactions to protect against false accusations that the hides were acquired illegally.

#  #  #

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.