Category Archives: Title 14

Do Surfperch Fry Count Toward the Daily Limit?

Barred surfperch give birth to live young from March through July. As few as four to as many as 113 young have been counted per female, but the average is 33. Each fry measures about 2.5 in. long at birth (Photo courtesy of Joe Donatini)

Barred surfperch give birth to live young from March through July. As few as four to as many as 113 young have been counted per female, but the average is 33. Each fry measures about 2.5 in. long at birth (Photo courtesy of Joe Donatini)

Question: In Santa Barbara a surf fisherman was seen last week eating baby perch squeezed from a gravid female. How do live fry from perch relate to a daily limit in possession if consumed? Also, if dead fry are expelled from a dying gravid female in an ice chest, do they count toward the daily possession limit of ten? If fish are consumed by surf fisherman while they fish is there a requirement to save the carcass to verify minimum size for species and daily catch limit? The surfperch babies squeezed directly into the upturned mouth is a bit disturbing and prompted me to pose these questions. Thanks. (Hills S., Ventura)

Answer: Disturbing, indeed. The law says the limit is 10 of any one species. Surfperch are livebearers and it is legal for a person to have fish still inside a livebearing species. Technically, fry are not considered individual fish until they are born, so they do not count toward the limit.

(Photo by Richard Gilliam)

Ken Oda fishes for surf perch (Richard Gilliam photo)

However, if the fry are outside the body, then they technically count as a fish. If a female expels fry in a cooler or boat and puts a person over the limit, please return the fry to the water immediately. This will keep you from being over limit and maybe even save a fry or two … or 40.


Shooting barnyard pigeons?
Question: What is the law when it comes to shooting common or barnyard pigeons? After discussing this with a number of friends and hunters, no one seems to have a definitive answer. Can you help? (Jeff S.)

Answer: Barnyard pigeons or “rock doves” are the feral progeny of domesticated pigeons, and their take is not regulated by the Fish and Game Code. While there is no limit for barnyard pigeons, don’t confuse them with bandtail pigeons or racing pigeons. If someone hunting barnyard pigeons outside the bandtail pigeon season accidentally kills a registered racing pigeon, they could be in trouble and cited with a misdemeanor (Fish and Game Code, section 3680). The chance of this happening is very low though.


Automatic fishing pole?
Question: Can a person use an automatic hook set fishing pole? It would be similar to the action of a mouse trap but with an electric latch that would be activated by the user of the pole holder via a push button switch. The electric latch would unhook and that would cause the pole to spring up and hook the fish. The pole holder would be attended to the whole time and the electric latch would have wires to a switch that a person would have in his hands to activate the latch when a bite is noticed, thus having it in hand and fully in control when the latch is released. Does this sound OK? (Roy D.)

Answer: Sure, give it a whirl! There’s nothing in the Fish and Game Code or Title 14 that prohibits the use of an automatic hook set fishing pole as you have described.


Felon as a hunting chaperone?
Question:My wife loves to hunt almost as much as I do. She especially loves duck hunting but is not confident enough to be out there on her own. The problem is I have a felony on my record which prohibits me from being in possession of a firearm. Can I legally just chaperone her as long as I don’t have access to the firearm? (Richard W.)

Answer: I think the answer lies with either your probation officer or the courts. California Fish and Wildlife laws do not address this issue. The best thing you can do is contact either your probation officer or refer to the court documents related to your case for information regarding any restrictions that may apply to you.


Slingbow for bowfishing?
Question: Is it legal to use a slingbow for bowfishing? (Leng M.)

Answer: Yes, a slingbow is legal to use to take a limited number of fish species in freshwater and the ocean. For fishing purposes, the arrow must have a line attached to be legal (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.23). In ocean waters, the slingbow can be used for skates, rays and sharks (CCR Title 14, section 28.95). In freshwater systems, the slingbow may only be used for certain species and in specific areas (CCR Title 14, section 2.25).

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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.

Ethics of Shooting Birds on the Water or on the Ground

Wood duck (USFWS photo)

Wood duck (USFWS photo)

Question: Is it lawful to shoot a bird that is on the water, or if I’m field hunting, to shoot a bird that is standing on the ground? I do not consider it sporting, but I was party to a group of hunters that took part in the above actions. Just curious what the official word is on this. (Nick V.)

Answer: It’s not illegal, but it’s certainly not sporting as it violates the Fair Chase Principle. “Fair chase” is the ethical, sportsman-like, lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an unfair advantage over such animals. In addition, it can also be unsafe to shoot birds on the ground or on the water because nearby hunters might be in your line of fire.


Is it legal to keep legal-sized fish caught in hoopnets?
Question: If I catch fish in a hoop net while lobster fishing, are they legal to keep provided they meet any size requirements? I have been throwing them back because I’m not sure it is legal to catch them that way. Someone told me they must be caught on fishing line only. What about sea snails and octopus that are caught in my hoops? Can other line-caught sportfish, such as tuna, be used as bait in lobster hoops? Please advise. (Steve G.)

Answer: You were correct to return fish caught in your hoop nets because hoop nets are not a legal method of take. Finfish may only be caught by hook-and-line except in very specific circumstances listed under “Finfish – Gear Restrictions” in the Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.65).

Taking sea snails and octopus caught incidentally in your lobster hoop net is not allowed (CCR Title 14, section 29.10(a)). Any finfish that is legal to take or possess in California may be used as bait in your lobster hoop net.


If license is forgotten, will a photo copy of license do?
Question: My son and I fish from our private boat almost exclusively and keep our sport fishing licenses aboard so they are always present. On rare occasions we will attempt to fish without the boat, and a few times have forgotten to bring our licenses. To prevent us from mistakenly being without our fishing licenses, can we show a photo copy of our licenses or can the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) issue more than one copy to a sport fisherman? (Murray C.)

Answer: Good questions, but the answers to both are no. You must have a valid fishing license in your possession when fishing or attempting to take fish, and you must present it to a game warden upon request. Additionally, only one license may be issued to a person per year.


Importing buffalo hides and products?
Question: Are there any restrictions on importing buffalo hides or buffalo art productions into California?

Answer: American buffalo (Bison bison) are considered a domestic breed of bovine (like cattle, goats and sheep) and thus no Fish and Wildlife laws regulate them. American buffalo hides are not restricted by CDFW and so they may be imported or possessed as long as they were obtained legally. However, the live importation of other species of true buffalo (e.g. African Cape Buffalo, etc.) or their hides is restricted by law (CCR Title 14, section 671).


Is it legal to catch carp and trout by hand?
Question: I recently read a post from people saying they had caught carp by hand in a lake. Is this legal in California? I have caught trout by hand in streams when I was younger, but wasn’t sure if that was legal either. Can you please clarify? (Nick)

Answer: There are no freshwater finfish species that can be legally taken by hand from any California lake waters within the state (only exception: a few fish species are allowed to be caught by hand during specific times in a few non-lake areas, as per CCR Title 14, sections 1.76 and 2.30.)


Electronics and hunting
Question: Is there any law against mounting a camera to the scope of a rifle to record my hunting experience? (Barry N.)

Answer: No, there is no law against this as long as there is no light emitted from the camera.

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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.

Cooking Passengers’ Fish Aboard a Sport Fishing Boat?

Galley cooks working aboard sport fishing boats can cook and serve their passenger's fish, under certain conditions (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Galley cooks working aboard sport fishing boats can cook and serve their passenger’s fish, under certain conditions (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: I am a galley cook aboard a sport fishing vessel out of Channel Islands Harbor. We would like to know if it is legal to cook our passengers’ sport-caught fish for them while they are aboard. We get a lot of requests for this and want to know the legality of doing so. Please let us know so we can avoid any legal issues and provide clarity to our valuable passengers. Thank you. (Stephen C.)

Answer: Yes, galley cooks can prepare a fisherman’s sport-caught fish as long as the fisherman is aboard, the fish fillets meet any size requirements (California Code of Regulations Title14, section 27.65) and the fish is not prepared until ready for immediate consumption (Fish and Game Code, section 2015). According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Lt. Eric Kord, “It would not be legal for the partyboat to hold a bunch of unidentifiable fillets in the galley fridge or an ice chest even if the plan is to cook them for the passengers. That won’t fly. As soon as the skin patch comes off or the fish gets chunked up, it must go onto a frying pan immediately and not be stored elsewhere.”

All bag limits and boat limits continue to apply even if some people’s fish are consumed. This means that those fish removed from people’s possession for preparation and consumption cannot then be replaced that day. Cooked fish still count toward the fisherman’s bag limit and the overall boat limit. Just because the fish was consumed does not mean passengers can then start fishing again to replace the fish if the boat limit has already been reached. If the bag limit is 10 for a fish, and the passenger catches 10, but eats one, the passenger cannot go take an 11th fish that day to replace the one he ate.

This is just CDFW’s part of the answer. The city/county might have their own take on it since you are probably operating under a business license that might have some restrictions regarding food storage and preparation.

Bottom line … you can cook sport caught fish for your passengers as long as the fish is counted toward the angler’s individual bag limit and the boat’s boat limit. The fish must also meet the fillet length requirements and any skin patches must be left on until the fish is prepared for immediate consumption.


ARs for hunting?
Question: There are many manufacturers that are producing a variety of AR-type centerfire and rimfire rifles for hunting. What are the regulations for using an AR-type rifle, rimfire or centerfire for hunting small and big game here in California? (Xoua X.)

Answer: AR-type rifles are semi-automatics and legal to possess and use for hunting in California as long as the ammunition being used is legal for the area and species being hunted.

Since the AR-type rifle is classified under California weapons laws as a legal firearm, it is legal for hunting so long as the caliber and ammunition are legal for the species you are hunting. Small game methods are found in CCR Title 14, section 311 and big game regulations are found in CCR Title 14, section 353. Within the California condor zone, you must use non-lead ammunition for taking big game and nongame mammals.


Definition of barbless hook?
Question: I want to try fishing in the Sacramento River this year for Chinook salmon and most of the area will require barbless hooks. Can barbed hooks with the barbs crimped down be legally considered barbless? (Eric V.)

Answer: Yes. Just be sure the crimped barbs are completely smooth so that no projections can be detected. To be sure, push it through any type of fabric and if no threads are snagged, you have a barbless hook. In the regulations a barbless hook is defined as a “hook from which the barb or barbs have been removed or completely bent closed, or which is manufactured without barbs” (CCR Title 14, section 1.19).


Fishing for salmon at night on the ocean or rivers?
Question: I have a question about ocean fishing from a boat at night. Is it legal to target salmon? What about fishing for salmon on rivers at night? I have looked all through the regulations and can’t find anything. Can you please clarify? (Mike G., Sacramento)

Answer: There are no time restrictions when fishing in the ocean unless you are fishing from a beach with a curfew. In most inland waters, salmon may only be taken between one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. (See CCR Title 14, section 3.00.) Night fishing for salmon is legal, however, in certain areas of the valley 3.00(b), south of interstate 80, 3.00(b)(2)(D). For more details, please check out the 2013-2014 Freshwater Fishing Regulations booklet available online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/ or wherever fishing licenses are sold.

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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.