Tag Archives: abalone

Should Anglers Release Lingcod Females?

Lingcod (photo courtesy of Matt Elyash)

Lingcod (photo courtesy of Matt Elyash)

Question: Last year before the end of rockfish season, I went on a charter boat out of Berkeley. Some of the lingcod caught were females with eggs. When do lingcod spawn and can keeping these females hurt the fishery in the future? Should we as anglers release females like we do for striped bass? I’m glad to see the size limit dropped and the season longer, but I don’t want to be back to where we were before. (Jason Green)

Answer: Lingcod and other groundfish are federally managed. Harvest management plans and stock assessments take into account the removal of both males and females when setting quotas, so fishery managers do factor in the take of females, too.

According to the latest assessment, the lingcod stock has fully recovered from their overfished status. Lingcod don’t get the bends (no swim bladder), so females can be released if handled properly.

In northern and central California, the primary reason for the current closed seasons for lingcod in late fall, winter and spring for boat-based anglers is to protect mature females that have moved inshore to spawn, and to protect the mature males that guard the egg nests.

Lingcod are a species that if handled properly can often be successfully caught and released. However, unless regulations prohibit keeping the fish (e.g. bag and minimum size limits) or the angler is releasing all fish, if it turns out the fish has been improperly handled or is bleeding and may not survive, the fish should be kept. Releasing bleeding females that may not survive in order to keep males instead just wastes fish and is not a good conservation method.

Lingcod generally spawn from November through February. Females do take longer to mature and they grow to a larger size than males. By some estimates, males only grow to 24-26 inches. Females are legal to keep, so keeping an egg-laden female would be up to that fisherman’s personal ethics.

Bottom line … female lingcod are legal to take and so it’s up to the fisherman to decide whether or not they want to.


Can kids under 16 fish alone without a license and an adult present?
Question: Can children under the age of 16 fish without a license, and alone without a licensed adult present? (Jennifer P.)

Answer: Yes. Although no license is required, keep in mind that no matter their age, everyone who fishes must know what the fishing regulations are that apply to the type of fishing they are doing, and have the good judgment to abide by them.


Using SCUBA to photograph abalone divers?
Question: I would like to photograph abalone divers diving but I need to use an air tank to obtain the imagery I want. How can I go about this without getting in trouble with a game warden? (Andrew B., Salt Lake City, UT)

Answer: It is legal for you to photograph abalone freedivers while you are using a tank, as long as you observe a couple of regulations.

The use of SCUBA gear or surface-supplied air while taking abalone is prohibited (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.15(e)). Therefore, if you are using a tank while photographing abalone freedivers, you cannot assist them with taking abalone. You also cannot help them pop abalone off the rocks or spot abalone for them, or do anything else that could be construed as giving assistance in taking abalone.

In addition, under this section the possession of abalone is prohibited aboard a vessel that also contains SCUBA gear or surface supplied air. This means you will have to use a separate boat – you cannot board the same boat the abalone freedivers are using while you are using SCUBA gear.


What to do with a full-size Cheetah / Leopard mount?
Question: My uncle recently passed away and left me in charge of his estate. One of the items he left is a full size Cheetah/ Leopard taxidermy. Is it legal for me to sell it? If not what do you recommend that I do with it? (Michael C., Modesto)

Answer: You are allowed to give it away but you are not allowed to sell or trade it (California Penal Code, section 653o). You might want to contact a museum, service club or local school to see if they may have a use for it.


Crabbing overnight at the beach?
Question: I enjoy crabbing and want to go crabbing overnight at the beach. Is this legal? (Ann N.)

Answer: Yes, as long as the beaches don’t have any city, county or beach curfews, it is legal to go crabbing overnight from most beaches. (CCR Title 14, section 29.05(a)).

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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.

Can Gifted Fish Get You a Ticket?

(CDFW Photo by Jeff Weaver)

(CDFW Photo by Jeff Weaver)

Question: My husband and some friends and I were fishing in the Eastern Sierras the second day of the trout opener and we all caught some nice fish. As we were leaving the lake to return to our car, one of our friends who had a long drive ahead didn’t want to keep his fish and offered them to us. We already had our limits but he said, “You can have two limits in your possession so just say you caught mine yesterday.” We took the fish but didn’t feel right about it. Was this actually okay? (Mark S., Torrance)

Answer:No, not the way you did it. While you both were allowed to catch a limit of trout on the opening day and another limit on the second day and then have two limits in possession, by accepting his fish like you did, you could have been cited. Here’s why …

Your friend was within his rights to gift you his fish, and you were within your rights to accept them. However, without proof that these fish were actually taken legally by another licensed angler, any wildlife officer you might meet in the parking lot or along the way that you showed your fish to would determine that you and your husband were in possession of an overlimit.

To avoid a misunderstanding like this, the best way to have handled it would have been to ask the angler giving you his additional fish to write you a note clearly stating this. The note should contain the date, his name, address, telephone number and fishing license number so that the note and your story could be verified, if necessary. Otherwise, you would likely be cited for being in possession of too many fish.


Fundraising dinners to the highest bidder?
Question: What is the regulation regarding charity fundraisers and abalone dinners? We are being asked to offer an abalone dinner for six people at a fundraiser and the highest bidder wins. Although different than actually charging a set price for an abalone dinner, is it illegal to accept a “donation” from the highest bidder?  (Scott E., Walnut Creek)

Answer: You can sell a dinner to the highest bidder, but it can’t be sold as an abalone dinner. You cannot advertise or sell a dinner to someone or through an auction that gives the buyer or bidder an expectation they will receive abalone for the money they spend. Even if the money is a donation to charity or to a non-profit organization, promising abalone (in any form) for money is not legal. Sport-caught abalone (or other fish and game) cannot be bought, sold, traded or bartered. You cannot commercialize sport-caught abalone in any way. If you were to buy abalone from a commercial abalone farm, then you could advertise and promote it as an “abalone dinner.”

The only way to legally do what you are proposing is to make the entire dinner “a donation”. As long as everyone going through the meal line is not “required to pay” there is no prohibition from calling it an abalone dinner.


Fishing licenses on mobile phones?
Question: I understand that some fishermen are taking pictures of their fishing licenses with their mobile phone. If a person forgot to bring his or her license, would a picture be acceptable proof of a license? (Les E.)

Answer: No. California law does not recognize an electronic copy or a picture of a sport fishing license. You are required to have your actual sport fishing license in possession while fishing (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 700 and Fish and Game Code, Sections 1054.2 and 7145(a)) and to present your actual license upon request to any wildlife officier who asks (FGC, section 2012). Fishing and hunting licenses are printed on special waterproof paper to prevent fraudulent duplication. A scanned or digital version of your license on your phone could be easily altered from its original image.

While every angler must have a valid sport fishing license in possession while fishing in California, the law does allow a person diving from a boat to keep the license on the boat, and a person diving from shore may keep the license on shore within 500 yards.


Tree squirrel hunting rifle?
Question:I have question regarding the type of rifle that is allowed to hunt tree squirrels. Can a Benjamin Discovery PCP air rifle be used to hunt tree squirrels during the open season? (Anonymous)

Answer:Yes, any air rifles may be used for all species of resident small game in California (CCR Title 14, section 311(f).) The only restriction is for turkey where the rifle must be at least .177 caliber.

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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.

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.