Category Archives: Transporting Taken Animals

Did Game Warden Have the Right to Search My Car?

Wildlife officers have extensive inspection authorities. It's a crime to refuse to show any wildlife officer upon request all licenses, tags, and the birds, mammals, fish, reptiles or amphibians taken, and any device or apparatus capable of being used to take birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians." (CDFW photo by Debra Hamilton).

Wildlife officers have extensive inspection authorities. It’s a crime to refuse to show any wildlife officer upon request all licenses, tags, and the birds, mammals, fish, reptiles or amphibians taken, and any device or apparatus capable of being used to take birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians.” (CDFW photo by Debra Hamilton).

Question: I was out fishing at Lake McSwain. A man was there before me but didn’t catch anything. I got lucky and caught two trout right away, then decided to go try out a different spot. I was planning on doing a whole day of fishing and didn’t want the two fishes to spoil, so I gave them to the man that had not caught any. As I was leaving, a game warden showed up. I told him I caught two but gave them away because I’m heading to a different spot. He wanted to search my car and I let him because I didn’t have anything to hide. After not finding anything, he then told me those two fish count towards my bag limit so I can only catch three more, even if I move to a different spot. Now my question is, does he really have the right to search my car just like that, and is it correct that I can only catch three more fish after I gave those two away? What happened to the five fish in possession regulation? (Anonymous)

Answer: Good question, but the game warden was correct. No more than one daily bag limit may be taken or possessed by any one person (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.17). There is a difference between the bag limit (the number you can take per day) and the possession limit (the maximum number you can have in your possession). Just because you gave two fish away, this did not set the slate back to zero so that you could take five additional fish that day.

As far as the request to search your vehicle, any officer can ask for your consent to inspect a vehicle. Your question indicates you “let him” inspect your car because you had nothing to hide. This was perfectly legal.

Whether an officer has the authority to conduct an inspection when consent is not given depends upon the specific circumstances of the contact. Wildlife officers have extensive inspection authorities that are unique to their jobs. For example, it is a crime to refuse to show an wildlife officer “… all licenses, tags, and the birds, mammals, fish, reptiles or amphibians taken or otherwise dealt with under this code, and any device or apparatus designed to be, and capable of being, used to take birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians” (Fish and Game Code, section 2012). Also, wildlife officers are authorized to inspect all receptacles, except the clothing actually worn by a person at the time of inspection, where birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians may be stored or placed (FGC, section 1006).


Challenging the Hunter Education exam?
Question: Can I challenge the Hunter Education exam to get my license? (Mark L.)

Answer: Yes, many California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) offices offer a comprehensive equivalency exam, but according to Hunter Education Coordinator Lt. James Kasper, this exam is a difficult examination to pass and the failure rate is high. There is a nonrefundable, administrative fee required to take the examination. This fee must be paid prior to taking the test. If you fail the examination, you must take a hunter education class or a home study/on-line course to become certified. The equivalency exam can only be taken one time.

WARNING! Not all states accept the equivalency certificates as proof of hunter education. All states will accept the certificate of completion that is awarded upon completion of a hunter education class or home study/on-line course.

If you are still interested in taking the equivalency examination, please contact your local CDFW office to see if they offer it. This examination can only be taken by appointment.


Antique dealer selling animal parts

Question: Can hunters bring mountain goats, brown bears and buffalo into the state (under California Penal Code, section 653(o))? If so, may a California antiques dealer sell animal mounts, skins or rugs from these animals? (Eric L.)

Answer: The Fish and Game Code does not prohibit the selling of animals not found in the wild in California so long as the animals were legally acquired and the importation is declared to the Department of Fish and Wildlife (pursuant to FGC section, 2353). Antique dealers should be aware of federal laws regulating the importation, possession and sale of some animals. Questions regarding those laws should be directed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They can be reached online at www.fws.gov/.

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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.

Bowfishing for Bullfrogs?

Bullfrogs can be taken by bow and arrow (CDFW Photo by Dave Feliz)

Bullfrogs can be taken by hand, hand-held dip net, hook and line, lights, spears, gigs, grabs, paddles, bow and arrow (including compound bows) or fishing tackle (CDFW Photo by Dave Feliz)

Question: In the regulations it says it’s legal to use bow and arrow to take bullfrogs. Does this mean we are also allowed to take them using compound bows? (J. Riggs)

Answer: Yes, compound bows are a kind of bow, so you can use them to take bullfrogs. Bowfishing for bullfrogs will also require you to have a California sport fishing license.  Amphibians may be taken only by hand, hand-held dip net, or hook and line, except bullfrogs may also be taken by lights, spears, gigs, grabs, paddles, bow and arrow or fishing tackle (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 5.05(e)). Since there are some protected frog species that may coexist with bullfrogs, please be sure you are correctly identifying your frog as a bullfrog, Rana (Lithobates) cataesbeiana, before releasing your arrow!


Taking a deer to a butcher across the state line?
Question: I live in Lake Tahoe on the California side, and hope to tag my first buck this fall. If I have a successful hunt, is it legal to take the buck to our favorite butcher who happens to be just across state line in Incline, Nevada? Or, would I need to find a butcher in California to help process the animal? (Scott Y., Lake Tahoe)

Answer: You will need to check with Nevada Department of Wildlife regarding their importation laws. Each state regulates importation of dead wildlife under its own regulations. California’s Fish and Game laws do not prohibit this, but when you bring the meat back into California, you will need to file a “Declaration for Entry” form. This form and all directions can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/entry-declaration.aspx.  


No deer tag, so what can we hunt?
Question: Half of our group drew tags for our favorite hunting zone and half did not. The unlucky ones will be helping with chores, fishing and hunting coyotes. Can we carry a rifle for coyotes while riding with the hunter with a tag? Many times we’ll drop the deer hunter off and then come back to pick them up, meanwhile calling coyotes to kill the time. Is it legal or would it be best to leave the guns at camp and separate the two activities? Thanks. (Mark)

Answer: This would be legal as long as the coyote hunters are clearly not attempting to hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill a deer. If your friends are hunting deer and you are hunting coyotes, it’s best to keep the two practices separate. This is especially true during deer season so the coyote hunters will not be mistaken by others to be deer hunting without a tag. In addition, as coyote hunters, you cannot engage in driving deer for your friends to shoot while in possession of a rifle because this is considered take of deer. Take is defined as to “Hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill, or the attempt to hunt pursue, catch, capture or kill.” If the coyote hunters are involved in any activity which results in the pursuit of deer, they would be in violation.

Keep in mind that coyote hunting methods are often not compatible with deer hunting, so wardens sometimes encounter hunters claiming to hunt coyotes when in fact they are deer hunting and trying to fill a friend’s tag. This is a significant problem in areas where drawing a tag is difficult, such as the X-1 zone, so the wardens are watching for this.


Fishing in isolated ponds
Question: As our creeks dry up, ponds are formed, with some of them at the road culverts. Is it legal to fish these ponds with a pole, by hand or a dip net? (Jeanne G., Portola)

Answer: In intermittent streams like you describe, what appear to be ponds are actually isolated pools. Although not apparent during the dry season, water may still be flowing, out of sight, under the streambed surface. This is often called “intragravel flow.” Because a creek is still a stream and not actually a pond or lake, the same regulations for the stream will still apply. Fish can only be taken from these waters under the regulations currently applicable for that stream, including seasons, limits, methods of take, etc. To view the current sport fishing regulations for inland waters, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/ or pick up a copy of the booklet wherever fishing licenses are sold.


Are artificial fish scent attractants considered bait?
Question: Are products like artificial, scented fish eggs considered “bait” when it comes to areas where the regulations call for artificials only? My guess is they would be considered bait, but what about just plastic salmon egg imitations with no scent? Or, does scent play into the regulations at all? (Mike S.)

Answer: An artificial lure “… does not include any scented or artificial baits” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.11). This means 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).

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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.

Why Don’t Wardens Release All Poached Animals?

Game Warden Kyle Kroll with K-9 detection dog, Buck, and the 57 poached abalone that they seized (Photo by Debra Hamilton for CDFW)

Game Warden Kyle Kroll with K-9 detection dog “Buck” and 54 poached abalone that they seized (Photo courtesy of CDFW)

Question: I support the work of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and want to congratulate and say thank you for all your services. However, I was watching an episode of “Wild Justice” recently and something didn’t seem right about the way the game wardens carried out a couple of operations. On the show, game wardens busted a poacher with 42 abalone. The wardens spied on a group and knew they were fishing illegally, so why didn’t they stop them when they came back to the beach? Why did the game wardens allow the group to pull the abalones away from the beach and wait? By the time you guys busted the group, all 42 abalone were dead. My 4-year-old daughter couldn’t understand why you didn’t catch the poachers as soon as they hit the beach so the abalone wouldn’t have had to die. Can you please give me an answer so that I can explain it to her? (Christopher R.)

CDFW K-9 detection dog with a poached abalone she seized (Photo by Debra Hamilton for CDFW)

CDFW K-9 detection dog “Coco” with a seized poached abalone (Photo courtesy of CDFW)

Answer:  Wardens are often faced with the dilemma of when to make contact on a poaching case. According to CDFW Lt. Patrick Foy, there are circumstances where a warden can make an excellent poaching case, contact the perpetrator, and return the live animals to the water/or wild. Those cases usually result in a fine. There are other times, such as the one you reference, where an effort needs to be made to prove that the perpetrator’s actions weren’t just a one time occurrence by a person who wasn’t aware of the law. If a warden can document that the perpetrator’s actions were planned, and intended to make a profit poaching wildlife, it is called commercialization. Commercialization cases are difficult to make, but when a warden makes them, they can lead to life-time revocation of fishing privileges, steep fines, and even jail terms. The wardens in the case you watched made the judgment that the loss of 42 abalone was necessary to permanently take the poachers out of business.


Wolves from another state?
Question: Is it legal to hunt and bring a wolf hide from another state into California? (Stephen H.)

Answer: It is legal to bring a wolf hide legally acquired in another state or province into California. You are required to complete a declaration of entry pursuant to section 2353 of the Fish and Game Code when the hide enters the state.


Fishing for crayfish in a stream closed to other fishing?
Question: Can crayfish be taken from a trout/steelhead stream closed to fishing?

Answer: Yes, taking crayfish by legal methods other than hook and line is allowed in streams closed to fishing. (See California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 5.35(e).)


Vintage Native American jewelry?
Question: I realize buying and selling bear claws is prohibited in California, but is there an exception in the law for vintage Native American jewelry? These old pieces often include bear claws in their designs, which are an important part of their culture. (Neil Z., Burbank)

Answer: No. The purchase or sale of the pieces or parts of any bear is prohibited in California. The law does not provide any exception for bear parts used in Native American art or ceremonial pieces of any age (Fish and Game Code, section 4758).


Maximum number of crab traps allowed?
Question: What is the maximum number of crab traps allowed for recreational fishermen? I see a limit of 10 hoop nets but nothing for traps or pots in the regulations. I’m fishing the Bodega and Tomales areas.

Answer: North of Pt. Arguello (just north of Pt. Conception), a recreational fisherman may use any number of crab traps or pots except when fishing from a public fishing pier, where the limit is two fishing appliances, such as crab traps or pots, per person.

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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.

Shipping Venison to the Troops Overseas?

Mule deer (by David Hannigan, CNDR)

Mule deer (by David Hannigan, CNDR)

Question: We are interested in shipping sealed venison packages to the troops overseas. Are there any California laws that prohibit this? The sealed venison will consist of packages of 50 to 100 pounds. If you could please advise us of any regulations or guidelines related to the shipping of sealed game to troops overseas, it would be greatly appreciated. (Anonymous)

Answer: There are no laws that prohibit the shipping of venison from California as long as the animals were lawfully taken in accordance with California Fish and Game laws, including seasons, limits, and gender restrictions. In addition, any  package being shipped by common carrier must bear the name and address of the shipper and/or the consignee, and an accurate description of the numbers and kinds of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles or amphibians contained in the package clearly and conspicuously marked on the outside (Fish and Game Code, section 2348.) Federal laws have similar marking requirements. For details, go to www.fws.gov.

However, whether or not the military will accept sealed venison from a private citizen is another issue. Contact them directly for details.


Feeding park squirrels?
Question: I have been warned three times this year by a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy that the next time I am caught feeding squirrels at the local park, I will get a ticket. The deputy stated they enforce state regulations. However, I fed them foods that are safe; food from pet stores such as pigeon feed and raw unshelled peanuts.  There are no signs posted in the park where I visit but I was told it’s still a violation.

There are really no food sources for these animals at the park and I don’t want to see malnourished animals. Please let me know the specific law covering this subject since I have not been able to find it online. I will abide by whatever the law says. This may seem to be an unimportant matter, but to me as a senior, it becomes a quality of life issue. Thank you. (Tamara M.)

Answer: The deputy is correct. By feeding wildlife, you are likely disrupting the animals’ normal behavior patterns in violation of California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 251.1. Some local ordinances also prohibit feeding wildlife.

It’s important not to feed wildlife because feeding brings animals into close proximity with each other, which puts them at greater risk of exposure to diseases and the droppings of the other animals, especially from large populations of birds in a relatively small area. If the animals expect the food, they will stay in the area and may create a public health and water quality issue. Also, even the healthiest pet food and seeds they get from people could never duplicate the diet they would get eating the food found in their natural environment. If the natural food supply in an area decreases, that is a signal to the animals to move to a different area.

See additional information regarding feeding wildlife online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/LivingWithWildlife/.


What’s legal as live bait?
Question: I fish the ocean waters off Mendocino and Humboldt counties from a sport boat and target lingcod and other groundfish. My question is can I use live sanddabs and small black and blue rockfish to catch lingcod? (Jason S.)

Answer: Yes, you can catch these species to then use for bait in ocean waters as long as they are all taken and possessed legally. All seasons, bag and size limits apply, even if rendered to be bait to use for lingcod and other large fish species. They also must be counted toward your bag limit.


Why the new sturgeon regulations?
Question: What’s so special about sturgeon that the new regulations and measures are required? (Jeff D., Modesto)

Answer: Green sturgeon is a threatened species and white sturgeon has long been a substantial management concern. To protect sturgeon populations and the vibrant white sturgeon fishery, the Department and Commission have emphasized sturgeon enforcement, research, fishing regulations, passage improvements (e.g. at bypass weirs on the Sacramento River) and outreach.  The State legislature is also aware of the sturgeon issue, and in 2007 implemented a law (AB 1187; DeSaulnier). This law made it easier for CDFW wildlife officers to charge poachers with illegal commercialization of sturgeon and the law drastically increased the fines for illegal commercialization of sturgeon.

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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.

Catching Lobsters with a Noose

California Spiny Lobster (DFG photo by Derek Stein)

California Spiny Lobster (DFG photo by Derek Stein)

Question: Is it legal to catch lobster with a noose? I want to make a sort of noose of PVC pipe and an elastic band (from the sling of a sling spear). This would not at all harm the lobster if caught in the noose. (Anonymous)

Answer: No, this is not legal. The only approved methods for sport take of lobster are by hand or with hoop nets (California Code Regulations Title 14, section 29.80).


Capturing largemouth bass for aquarium
Question: One of my friends has a large aquarium and is interested in putting some largemouth bass in it. I would like to know what the regulations are for catching a largemouth bass in a local lake and then transporting it live to his tank. It would never be released into a different body of water, and it would be taken legally. (Azure C.)

Answer: Transporting fish alive from the water where they are taken is prohibited (California Code of Regulations, section 1.63). Laws allowing certain species of live fish to be maintained alive in closed-systems do not authorize possession in home aquariums. Your friend can legally buy bass for his or her aquarium from a licensed aquaculturalist, as long as he or she does not release it into the wild.


Selling an old mounted bear head
Question: I live in Washington State and need some help with a question that
pertains to California rules. I have a friend who lives in California that wants my old mounted bear head for his cabin. It is about 60 years old, been in the family for years and passed around from one member to the other.
I tried reading the rules on the Internet about taxidermy things and got confused.
I don’t want to get in trouble if I send it to him, and I don’t want him to get in trouble for having it. It’s not for resell, just for his personal use. Would we be breaking any laws if I send it to him? (Sue N.)

Answer: It is legal under California law for you to give the bear mount to your friend, and for your friend to possess it for personal use. However, sale within California is prohibited.

According to retired California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Capt. Phil Nelms, you will need to check with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to make sure it is legal under their laws. Please provide your friend with as many details as possible regarding the description of the mount, your name and contact information, your friend’s name/contact info, etc.

A declaration of entry form for any wildlife entering the state is required (Fish and Game Code, section 2353). This form is available online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/docs/declaration_form.pdf. It would be best for your friend to come pick it up or for you to take it to him. If you ship the item from Washington to California, the packaging must contain the following information as required by federal laws pertaining to wildlife movement from state to state.

Title 50 Code of Federal Regulations, § 14.82 Alternatives and exceptions to the marking requirement.

(a) The requirements of §14.81 (requires all the information on the outside of the shipping container) may be met by complying with one of the following alternatives to the marking requirement:

(1)(i) Conspicuously marking the outside of each container or package containing fish or wildlife with the word “fish” or “wildlife” as appropriate for its contents, or with the common name of its contents by species, and

(ii) Including an invoice, packing list, bill of lading, or similar document to accompany the shipment which accurately states the name and address of the shipper and consignee, states the total number of packages or containers in the shipment, and for each species in the shipment specifies:

(A) The common name that identifies the species (examples include: Chinook (or king) salmon; bluefin tuna; and whitetail deer) and whether or not the listed species is venomous; and

(B) The number of that species (or other appropriate measure of quantity such as gross or net weight).

The invoice, packing list, bill of lading, or equivalent document must be securely attached to the outside of one container or package in the shipment or otherwise physically accompany the shipment in a manner which makes it readily accessible for inspection.

The complete Code of Federal Regulations Title 50 is available online at: http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?sid=10ed494084e6fbf0ba6250afef970297&c=ecfr&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title50/50cfrv1_02.tpl

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist 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. Please contact her at Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.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.

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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.

Can Boat Captains Tell Passengers to Take Someone’s Fish?

"Boat Limits" apply on most partyboat fishing trips (DFG photo by Ed Roberts)

Question: If I purchase a one-day fishing license for a day of deep sea fishing, shouldn’t it entitle me to catch my own fish? I ask because while fishing on a party fishing boat recently, some people got their limits early but kept fishing, and some of us were never able to get our limits. The captain knew some people kept fishing after getting their limits and that some people (like me) had caught only a fraction of my limit. Nevertheless, the captain halted all fishing early and headed the boat back to the dock with many unhappy people. He then told the people with overlimits to take extra fish out of their bags to give people who hadn’t caught much.

Does the captain of the boat have the authority to let some people catch more than their share and then require people who had not caught limits to take these other people’s extra fish to call their own just to fool the wardens if they board the boat for an inspection? When I go fishing, I want to catch my own fish. If I run out of time without getting my limit, I can understand not being able to catch my quota. But when the captain of the boat orders me to stop fishing and take fish caught by others, I think that stinks.

Doesn’t sound right or feel right to me, but that’s what happened. What’s your opinion, or better yet, what does the law say? (Jeffrey Castaline, San Mateo)

Answer: Unfortunately, although this seems like an illegal practice, it is not. When fishing on the ocean, boat limits apply (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 195(e)). A boat limit for a species or species group is equal to the number of passengers aboard the vessel that are licensed or otherwise authorized to sport fish in ocean waters off California multiplied by the individual daily bag limit authorized for a species or species group. This means that each boat must stop fishing once they have the number of fish on board that collectively equal the number of licensed fishermen on the boat, multiplied by the individual limits. For example, on a boat with 20 licensed fishermen, if the bag limit is 10 fish per person, the boat cannot carry more than 200 fish regardless of who caught them. Each person cannot leave the boat with more than an individual bag limit. That’s why the captain told you to fill the remainder of your bag limit with extra fish caught by other anglers.

Although this is legal under California law, it may not seem satisfying for people expecting to catch and keep only those fish they catch themselves.  Keep in mind though that you are not obligated to take the fish from the Captain. If you don’t mind going in without your limit, the Captain cannot order you to take fish. If that is the case and the wardens are waiting at the harbor, and there is an extra limit of fish on the boat because everyone else who walked off had a limit, the Captain may be in violation.  You could also advise the skipper when you board the boat that you will not be accepting fish, so don’t count you in on the boat limit.

All I can recommend for next time is to check with the boat captain ahead of time to see what their practice is and if you may not be able to catch all of your own fish. If so, you may decide to check around for another boat and captain.


Preparing out-of-state antelope for border check stations?
Question: I will be hunting next month in Nevada for antelope, and according to the regulation regarding transportation of game into California, deer and elk are the only big game animals that this law applies to. The law does not apply to antelope correct? I don’t want to hand the guy my declaration of entry form at the bug station on my way home and have him flip out and call the Department of Fish and Game because my animal is not boned out. (Jack S., Sacramento)

Answer: Antelope don’t appear to be susceptible to chronic wasting disease (CWD), so there are no special restrictions. The law created to keep CWD out of California only applies to deer and elk. If you are worried about this, you can provide the border station with a copy of section 712 of the California Code of Regulations Title 14. For more information, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/news/issues/cwd_faq.html


Fishing the California-Arizona line
Question: If I fish from a boat in Lake Havasu (launched from the Arizona side), do I need a California resident fishing license with a Colorado River stamp or do I need an Arizona license? (Dave Chambers)

Answer: A Colorado River Special Use Stamp is required for anyone fishing from a boat or other floating device on the Colorado River or adjacent waters forming the California-Arizona border. In addition, the holder of a California license must have an Arizona Use Stamp, and the holder of an Arizona license must have a California Use Stamp.

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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.