Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why No Abalone Diving/Picking Before 8:00 a.m.?

Abalone free diver (Photo by Ken Bailey)

Abalone free diver (Photo by Ken Bailey)

Question: Why are abalone divers and pickers now required to wait until 8:00 a.m. to begin? Can divers still go spear fishing at the normal legal start time or take early morning photos, then switch over to abalone diving at 8 a.m.? (Anonymous)

Answer: The new 8:00 a.m. start time is an abalone conservation measure. It reduces the number of low-tide days people will be able to take abalone by rock picking (searching amongst rocks for abalone at low tide). During the spring, many low tides occur much earlier than 8:00 a.m.

This regulation change originated from the concerns of wardens who were witnessing large numbers of fishermen coming each and every low tide and taking large numbers of abalone. In addition to all the legal-sized abalone being taken, people were removing numerous undersized abalone while trying to find legal ones. Because undersized abalone often do not survive being removed and returned, they are likely to die. Thus, the impact on the fishery when this happens is probably much greater than the estimated legal catch (over 200,000 abalone annually in recent years).

Some people were also using the dim light before dawn to hide illegal activities. Wardens believe the later start time will aid them in enforcing regulations by moving early morning abalone fishing activities to hours with better daylight. The effect of the new start time on total catch is uncertain because people could shift to later hours or the days with low tides after 8:00 A.M. Although there may be a reduction in overall take based on the 8:00 A.M. start time, the increased enforcement benefit is clearly going to assist with compliance of the regulations. Once the data from the change has been analyzed, CDFW will be able to evaluate what the overall benefit to the abalone resource was.

Divers wanting to go out before 8 a.m. to spearfish or do underwater photography can do this as long as they don’t have the means of taking abalone or are searching for abalone before the official state time. If their activities appear to a warden to be taking or searching for abalone before 8 a.m., then they can be cited.

Abalone pickers

Wildlife Officers watch from the bluffs for violations by abalone divers and pickers (Photos by K. Joe)


How to stop people who are not obeying the rules?
Question: I was watching two boys catch a lot of trout (at least 40) and they were handling these fish after landing them in the dirt. They would pick and choose which ones to keep and throw back the small ones, most of which soon died. I was appalled by their lack of respect and sportsmanship, and when I approached their father his reply was, “Who are you to say how many we have? We don’t have a full basket!” The last time I needed to call law enforcement to this county park they couldn’t find the park until after the offenders had left. How can we stop these types of people from ruining the opportunities for others? (Gerry)

Answer: The best thing you can do is to record as much information about the location, situation and descriptions of people and the vehicle(s) they are driving (including make, model, color and license plate number). Provide all of this information at your earliest convenience to our CalTIP hotline at 1-888-334-CalTIP(2258). Leave a message if need be, with contact information, and a warden will receive this information. If officers are in the area when you call, they will come. If they are not able to arrive in time to catch the people who are breaking the laws, they will be aware of the situation and looking for the offenders the next time around.


Problems with crows and ravens – depredation permit an option?
Question: Why is there such a limited season on hunting crows? I suspect they are covered under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, but they are a nuisance species. I run into a number of landowners who have problems with crows with regards to crop damage, etc. Many of these landowners say that based on size, they also have ravens which are also damaging. I know there is a crow hunting season, but what about ravens? I also know “corvids” are very problematic predators for song birds and marbled murrelets on the coast. Can landowners get a depredation permit for either species, and if so, where? (Patrick R., Santa Rosa)

Answer: You just missed the hunting season for American crows, which runs from Dec. 7 through April 9. Ravens cannot be hunted. The regulations allow for landowners to destroy (shoot) crows that are damaging farm fields or other crops (CCR Title 14, section 472(d)).


Lifetime license holder moves out of state
Question: If, while a California resident, I purchase either a lifetime fishing or hunting license, will that license still be valid if I subsequently establish residency in another state? (Greg L., Mission Viejo)

Answer: Yes. You must be a resident to purchase the license, but after it is purchased, it will be valid for use in California for the rest of your life, regardless of where you reside.

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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.

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.

Turkey Hunting with Pellet Rifles?

Spring tom turkeys in Northern California (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Spring tom turkeys in Northern California (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: While watching some videos on YouTube about turkey hunting with a pellet rifle, I noticed a guy from northern California stating he was using a nitro piston Remington air rifle which is not constant air or CO2 powered as your regulations state they must be. I believe people are thinking that any pellet rifle that is .177 caliber or larger is all right to use. This guy has videos of multiple hunts in which he is using illegal equipment, thus couldn’t he be considered “poaching” or at least taking game with illegal equipment? It’s sad to see people that are not completely understanding of the rules and regulations, but it also angers me to see people shoot these birds with equipment they should not be using. (Rob G., Folsom)

Answer: Thank you for taking the time to contact us about this and the use of the pellet rifle. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Chief Mike Carion, this topic was recently discussed among our law enforcement leaders, and the group’s consensus is that the regulation allows for “compressed air or gas.” Therefore, since the nitrogen-filled chamber is a compressed gas, it would meet the criteria of the regulations and therefore is not illegal.

This is another example of the regulations not being able to keep up with the advances in technology. We appreciate you bringing this to our attention and we will work to correct the writing of the language of these regulations.


Filleting halibut aboard my boat?
Question: If I catch a California halibut and want to fillet it aboard my boat and keep it as fresh as possible, what do I have to do? Someone told me that as long as I leave all of the skin still attached on one side, that would be legal. Is this correct? (Robert L., Long Beach)

Answer: Yes. For California halibut taken from or possessed aboard a vessel south of Point Arena (Mendocino County), fillets must be a minimum of 16 and three-quarter inches in length and shall bear the entire skin intact. A fillet from a California halibut (flesh from one entire side of the fish with the entire skin intact) may not be cut-in-half fillets. However, a fillet may be cut lengthwise in a straight line along the midline of the fillet where the fillet was attached to the vertebra (backbone) of the fish only if the two pieces of a fillet remain joined along their midline for a length of at least two inches at one end of the fillet (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.65(b)(6)).


How old to hunt in California?
Question: How old do you have to be to hunt in California? I know you have to be 12 to hunt big game, but are there any age limits to anything else? How old do you have to be to take the hunter safety class? (Zac S.)

Answer: A person must be 12 years old to apply for a big game tag and 16 to hunt bighorn sheep. There is no specified minimum age to hunt other game, but hunters must be accepted into and successfully complete the prescribed hunter education course. It’s up to the hunter education instructors as to what minimum age child they are willing to test, but most recommend 10 years old. The main thing is the child must be mature enough to successfully complete the hunter education course requirements and examination.


Bear spray
Question: What are the laws in regards to bear spray in the state of California? I moved from Alaska where it was almost necessary to carry bear spray as your first line of defense in order to eliminate the threat rather than resorting to a firearm. Can you please clarify what the law is here in California? I understand personal self-defense against humans is legal as long as its 2.5 ounces or less. But as far as bear spray I just don’t know the answer. I am concerned because I still have a can I brought from Alaska with me and would like to know if I am breaking any laws? (Paul P.)

Answer: Nothing in the Fish and Game Code or Title 14 regulations limit the amount of bear spray that may be possessed in California. However, depending upon the ingredients in the spray, there are likely Penal Code or Health and Safety Code provisions that apply. The use of bear spray is not allowed within National Parks found within California but is allowed in some parks in other states. CDFW recommends checking with the local sheriff’s office in the area you plan on carrying the bear spray.

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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.