Tag Archives: hoop netting

Importing Rattlesnakes to Sell as Exotic Meats?

Western Rattlesnakes cannot be imported or sold in California (photo courtesy of Pete Walker, Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

Western Rattlesnakes are native to California and so cannot be sold or imported into the state (photo courtesy of Pete Walker, Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

Question: I have a business where I sell different types of exotic meats for human consumption. If legal to do, I would like to offer the meat of the following species of rattlesnakes: eastern, western and prairie rattlesnakes. I know I cannot bring western diamondbacks into the state, but are there any restrictions to selling eastern diamondbacks and prairie rattlesnakes from Montana in California? What about selling rattlesnake sausages and rattlesnake cakes made in Colorado? Can I sell processed food in California or is there a restriction? (Anshu P.)

Answer: There are no restrictions in California Fish and Game laws against importing and selling the meat of any species of reptile or amphibian that is not found in the wild in California, as long as they are not otherwise prohibited by federal law. For a list of species found in the wild in California, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/nongame/list.html.

Lobster hooping?
Question: I understand from the regulations that if hoop netting from a kayak, you need to keep your license and card with you. However, if you are scuba diving, you can keep it in your car 500 yards away. I want to hoop from land, but most likely I will have to swim or get wet at certain areas. Can I also keep my license in my car or do I have to bring it with me? (Ping Lee)

Answer: When a person is diving from a boat, the license may be kept in the boat, or in the case of a person diving from the shore, the license may be kept within 500 yards on the shore (Fish and Game Code, section 7145(a)). Therefore, the Fish and Game law that allows the license to remain in the vehicle is specific to a person who is diving from the shore and within 500 yards of the vehicle. Under all other circumstances, the law requires you to have your license in your immediate possession.

Bluegill for bait?
Question: I have had some discussions with other fisherman over the use of bluegill for bait in the body of water it was caught in. I can’t seem to find anything on the website this year pertaining to using them for bait. Am I looking in the wrong area? Have the regulations changed? Please lend us a hand with some info because we don’t want to fish out of our limits. Thanks a million and tight lines to you. (Randall S.)

Answer: California sportfishing regulations for freshwater generally prohibit using live or dead finfish for bait. Although certain species of finfish may be used in the waters where taken, bluegill may only be used in the Colorado River District (see California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 4.15(a)) and portions of the Valley and South Central Districts (see CCR Title 14, section 4.20(d)). See sections 4.00 – 4.30 in the Freshwater Sportfishing Regulations for a complete listing of fish that may be used for bait, and keep in mind that bluegill are sunfish pursuant to CCR Title 14, section 1.77. The regulations are available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/.

New big game fund-raising random drawing tags?
Question: What’s the latest on the special big game tags this year? Will any new tags be available via the random drawing system? (George S., Modesto)

Answer: Yes! Hunters can apply for four different fund-raising random drawing tags. These tags raise funds needed for vital wildlife conservation programs.

According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Big Game Program Analyst Lai Saechao, the 2013 fund-raising random drawing tag for bighorn sheep will be valid in two hunt zones. The hunter will have a choice between the Marble/Clipper Mountains or the South Bristol Mountain hunt zones. In addition, Dry Creek Outfitters has offered free guide services to the winner of the Fund-Raising Random Drawing Bighorn Sheep Tag.

Also available, one open zone deer tag which allows the hunter to hunt during the authorized season dates of any deer hunt, using the specific method and meeting any special conditions of the tag for that hunt. There’s also an Owens Valley elk tag which allows the hunter to hunt in any of the Owens Valley zones (Bishop, Independence, Lone Pine, Tinemaha, Tinemaha Mountain and Whitney) with any legal method. Last but not least, a Northeastern California antelope tag will be valid in the Mount Dome, Clear Lake, Likely Tables, Lassen, Big Valley and Surprise Valley zones with any legal method.

Opportunities to apply for these four fund-raising random drawing tags are available to all interested hunters. Hunters can now apply at any CDFW license sales office, through license agents or online at www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/ols/. Hunters may also apply for these fund-raising random drawing tags at the CDFW booth at the Fred Hall Shows in Long Beach and Del Mar next month.

#  #  #

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.

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.

How does managed hunting benefit deer herds?


California Mule Deer

Question: I am quite concerned about the health of our deer herds and would like to know how proper management of deer hunting will contribute to long-term protection of the herds. I know many people still believe hunting will decimate the herds, but I’ve been told that regulated hunting could also help control the population. What is your take on this?  (Bill B., Susanville)

Answer: Managed hunting of deer is designed to smooth out the highly dynamic population cycles of deer. They are a classic “boom or bust” species in that when habitat conditions are good, deer populations can rise very quickly, but when they are bad (or over-utilized by too many deer), they can crash just as quickly. These crashes usually occur through starvation and/or disease issues.  Managing the population through regulated sport hunting can minimize these types of events.

Another way that managed hunting contributes to herd protection is through the payment of fees for tags and licenses. According to Deer Program Manager Craig Stowers, these funds are used for collection of population, habitat use and movement data, information to monitor and research disease issues, and enforcement of the laws and regulations that are the basis of managed sport hunting. Tag monies are used for habitat projects to benefit deer herds in the state as well.

Although deer are a resource “owned” by all citizens of California, deer management in this state is not supported by general taxes – the license and tag fees are basically “user fees” that are paid for by deer hunters and in turn used to manage the deer resource. Hunters’ dollars fund deer research and habitat work, and hunter harvest helps benefit California’s deer herds by regulating their population cycles.

Hoop netting for lobsters with panty hose?
Question: While hoop netting lobsters in the past, I have used a piece of old panty hose to keep the bait together. It’s worked well but recently I have been told this is illegal to do because a lobster may get entangled on the hose. This has never happened in the times that I have hoop netted. I’m trying to be legal at all times. Am I breaking the law by using this method? (Doug F.)

Answer: Hoop nets are legal to use to take lobster but traps are not. If hoop nets are modified in any manner that causes the lobster to become entangled or trapped, then the device ceases to be a hoop-net and becomes a trap. The fabric used to make panty hose is known to be an effective trap for lobsters and is not recommended for use on any part of a hoop net when it is used to take lobster.

Hoop nets may contain a bait container but may in no way act to entangle or impede the movement of lobster while it tries to leave the net. If it does, then the device would be illegal, no matter what material is used to construct the bait container.

Are target shooters limited to the 3-round max shell capacity?
Question: My friends and I were arguing over whether or not recreational shotgun shooters (skeet/trap) are bound in the same way as game hunters by the 3-round maximum shell capacity restriction. I also cannot find any Fish and Game regulations as to whether this holds true for nongame species (such as coyotes). Only game mammals and birds are listed specifically. (Ken)

Answer: Regulations regarding magazine capacity only apply when “taking” game birds and/or mammals (California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 311, 353 and 507). The 3-round shell restriction does not apply when using a shotgun to take furbearing or nongame species, or when shooting targets, skeet/trap, sporting clays, etc. (CCR Title 14, sections 465 and 475).

Fish and Game Code section 2010 does limit shotguns to no more than six shells when taking “any bird or mammal” and there are Penal Code sections restricting large capacity firearms. Additional information regarding large capacity firearms is available from the Bureau of Firearms Web site at http://ag.ca.gov/firearms/.

Are duck decoys with flashing LED lights legal?
Question: I have a question about a new duck decoy I’ve found that is not mechanical or a spinning wing type but is one that operates with a string of flashing LED lights on the wings. Nothing on the decoy moves but the flashing lights seem to be an attractant in the early morning. Are these legal to use before Dec. 1? (Mark L.)

Answer: Unfortunately, these decoys may not be used at any time during the waterfowl season because it is unlawful to use any artificial light to assist in the taking of game birds, game mammals or game fish, except in ocean waters or other waters where night fishing is permitted. (FGC, section 2005).

# # #

Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. She cannot personally answer everyone’s questions but will select a few to answer in this column each week. Contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

Can waterfowl hunters get a little help?

Waterfowl at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in November. (Photo © Carrie Wilson)

Question: I have a question about the number of shells a hunter may possess while waterfowl hunting. Is it clarified in the regulations that only hunters cannot possess more than 25 shells in the field during the waterfowl season? If not, a non-hunter could then carry another 25 shells into the field for the hunter to use.  (Rick S., Pleasanton)

Answer: Current Fish and Game Commission regulations restrict the number of shot shells that are permitted in the field on some refuges or wildlife areas. The ammunition restriction does not apply to all areas, but in the areas/refuges listed in CCR Title 14, Section 551(a), the restrictions are twofold:

1) Hunters may not possess more than 25 shot shells while in the field (CCR Title 14, Section 551[q]); and,

2) Only persons with a valid hunting permit for that day are permitted to possess ammunition in the field (CCR Title14, Section 551[b][4]).

Therefore, a non-hunter cannot pack in extra shells for the hunter.

Legal to catch lobsters and crabs in crab traps?
Question: Is it legal to fish for both lobsters and crab at the same time using hoop nets for the lobster and a crab pot for the crabs? My concern is that when we return to harbor, a game warden may question which method was used to take which species. The crab pot is a Northern California type that is “soaked” for days and has escape ports. The hoop net is a basic hoop net. Thanks. (Joel S.)

Answer: You may fish for lobsters and crabs at the same time but only with hoop nets or by hand. According to Game Warden Jason Chance, crab traps are legal to use in the north but are illegal for sport fishermen to use south of Point Arguello (CCR Title 14, Section 29.80(e)). While most lobsters occur in Southern California below Point Arguello, for any that do occur north of this point, crab traps may not be used.

What is a loaded gun?
Question: In a recent column you discussed loaded guns in a vehicle. Can you clarify what a “loaded gun” is? I know that having cartridges/shotgun shells in the chamber is illegal, but what if the cartridges/shotgun shells are just in the magazine of the rifle or shotgun? Do the restrictions also apply while in or upon a vehicle on a public roadway? (Anonymous, Redding)

Answer: Under the Fish and Game Code, a rifle or shotgun is deemed loaded when there is an unexpended cartridge or shell in the firing chamber, but not when the only cartridges or shells are in the magazine. It is “unlawful to possess a loaded rifle or shotgun in any vehicle or conveyance or its attachments which is standing on or along or is being driven on or along any public highway or other way open to the public (FGC Section 2006).”

The California Penal Code is more restrictive, however, and defines “loaded” as being when ammunition is attached to the weapon (even if all shells or cartridges are only in the magazine portion of the weapon and not in the chamber).

According to Assistant Chief Mike McBride, the consequences may be dependent on circumstances such as location and type of roadway. In other words, a loaded weapon in a vehicle on a dirt road in the boondocks might be viewed differently than one in a vehicle on a paved road that has a lot of traffic. Also, a county sheriff may tend to enforce the Penal Code rather than the Fish and Game Code. A warden could do the same if the circumstances seem to justify that course of action (if this occurs on a major paved road, etc.).

So, it is up to the law enforcement officer to make that call. However, the very safest and most prudent course of action is to have the weapon entirely unloaded.

For more information on loaded guns and to review the California Summary of Firearms Law, contact the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Firearms at http://ag.ca.gov/firearms/.

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. Thanks. (Nick)

Answer: No, 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.)

# # #

Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. She cannot personally answer everyone’s questions but will select a few to answer in this column each week. Contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

Fishing Bait and Tackle Launcher

Surf fishing along the Central California Coast (NOAA photo)

Question: I was just watching a commercial about a guy who invented a “fish bait launcher” that launches your fishing line, tackle and bait out 200-plus yards past the surf. It was invented by a dedicated surf-fisher who became handicapped but refused to give up his favorite sport. It looks a lot like the popular old air cannons that could launch large veggies. This one is just large enough to put some small bait in, and is powered by a 12-volt battery, charger and air compressor. I thought air cannons were made illegal in California, no matter what you use them for. Am I right? (Chris D., Ab diver/fisherman/hunter)

Answer: If the invention meets certain conditions, it may be legal. According to Lt. John Laughlin, if the launcher does not use any rocket-propelled projectiles or projectiles containing any explosive, incendiary material or chemical substances, it is legal. If the propulsion includes an ignition or combustion, it will be in violation of the law. (California Penal Code 12301 [a][6]).

Who needs licenses and report cards when lobster hoop netting?
I am a sport fisherman with a boat and will be taking people on a camping trip to Catalina soon. Some of the people want to go lobster hoop netting. I know everyone who’s fishing for lobsters regardless of age needs a lobster card. What is the rule though for people who are just watching and not fishing or assisting in any way? If someone is determined to be in violation of fishing or assisting while without a lobster card, who is fined – the boat owner or the individual without a card? Thank you for your time and efforts to keep marine life safe. (Jeff)

Answer: Any person fishing for or taking California spiny lobster must have a fishing license and the report card. If they are not assisting, handling the line, pulling the line, baiting the net, shining the light, etc., then they are not fishing or taking spiny lobster and no license or card is needed.

According to Patrol Lt. Eric Kord, any individual who, upon investigation or observations, is fishing for or taking spiny lobsters without a lobster card is subject to citation (Section 29.90[d]). This could be the owner of the boat if lobsters are in possession and no one admits to taking the lobster. In most circumstances though, the individual is cited for that particular violation.

Can I collect antlers from dead deer?
Question: I found a four-point buck that the local game warden confirmed was a cougar kill. Can I go back in a couple of weeks and get the antlers without getting in trouble? (Angel S.)

Answer: Generally, it’s ok to collect shed antlers (antlers dropped naturally each year in the late winter or early spring), but the antlers you are asking about are not sheds and are still attached to a recently killed deer. You may not possess antlers attached to a recently killed deer unless you have taken the deer under the authority of a sport hunting license and the appropriate tag during the deer season. According to Northern California Enforcement Chief Mike Carion, if the animal had been dead a while, the season was over and the meat dried up, it would not be an issue … but that is not the case here.

Collecting antlers from a recent kill could lead to enforcement issues because the antlers would not be tagged and would likely be attached to a “fresh” skull cap, which is a violation, especially if outside of the deer season. If you were to find a deer skeleton (obviously aged) it would be ok to take the bones, including the head with antlers.

Can I become a fishing guide if I have a citation on my record?
Question: I have a question regarding the application to become a fishing guide.  I had a hunter trespass citation a long time ago that was honestly unintentional. It was a case of poor mapping and unmarked fence lines. I paid my fine it never went any further. This was many years ago and I have never had any other convictions for any sort of law breaking. Does my single-hunter trespass ticket exclude me from applying for guide status in this state? I am seriously interested in teaching others to care for and respect our outdoor privileges and would love to apply for a guide’s license. But I don’t want to go through the process and pay all the costs only to be denied at the time my application is reviewed. Thank you for your time. (Doug M.)

Answer: Because your citation was 12 years ago, it was your only citation and you took care of the fines, you should not have a problem getting a guide’s license. Applicants are evaluated mostly for recent activity (within five years), or repetitive activity. And for applicants who apply but are denied, any application fees are refunded.

# # #

Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. She cannot personally answer everyone’s questions but will select a few to answer in this column each week. Contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

Reducing Stress When Fishing Catch and Release?

Stephanie Mehalick with a bright rainbow trout caught in Putah Creek. By keeping the fish in the water and minimizing her holding time prior to release, the fish stays calm for a quick and successful release. (DFG file photo by Rodger Bloom, Heritage and Wild Trout Program)

Question: I enjoy fishing, abide by all laws and keep only what I will consume … even when the fish are biting exceptionally well! A while back I heard reports that at San Luis Reservoir the fishing was so good that some people were catching up to 30 fish a day. Considering how stress lowers the survival rate for a lot of fish after being caught and released, are there any regulations regarding such practices? (Daniel S.)

Answer: While catch and release fishing for most fish is legal, it can be very stressful for some fish depending on the species and the conditions. Remember, once an angler has retained his or her daily bag or possession limit, by law they must stop fishing for that species including catch and release fishing.

Studies done to evaluate the stress and mortality levels of striped bass, for example, that were caught and released have shown the mortality rate is probably much higher than most people think. Fish caught during the winter when temperatures were cooler did better following release than those caught during the summer. During the warm weather months when air and water temperatures were high, stress and mortality levels were considerably higher.

Where the fish is hooked, how deep the hook is embedded and how long the fish is played are some of the key factors affecting stress levels. The angler’s fishing abilities and how the fish is handled and released can also significantly affect the level of stress and possible resulting mortality the fish may face.

For fish that will be released, try to keep the fish in the water at all times, handle it as little as possible and try not to disrupt their protective slime coat. If the hook appears to be deep and not easily removed, cut the line and leave the hook in the fish. The less time the fish is on the line, the better its chance for survival.

By considering water conditions, air and water temperatures, fishing techniques and how the fish is handled prior to release, anglers can directly influence the well-being of the fish they are catching and releasing, and this goes for all species.

Remember, just because a fish swims away when released, this does not mean damage has not already been done and that the fish won’t still die in the upcoming hours or days from the experience. But, by considering all of these factors and trying to minimizing their stress, the fish will have a better chance of survival to be caught again on another day.

Use of Lead Bullets
Question: I was planning to hunt quail and rabbit with a 12 gauge shotgun in the Los Padres National Forest until I noticed a statement on their Web site saying lead bullets have been banned for hunting in the historic condor range, including the Los Padres National Forest. It also said we must remove or bury all gut piles. Is the DFG enforcing this lead free rule for rifle/handgun bullets ONLY or does it also include shotgun shot while in the condor flight area? My intent is to hunt upland game birds and small game which have a small/no gut pile. (Mark N., Simi Valley)

Answer: The lead free regulations currently apply to the use of lead for big game and non-game mammals. Rabbits and tree squirrels are classified as small game and were not included in the current regulations. Quail, tree squirrel and cottontail rabbit seasons closed on Jan. 25. Jackrabbits may still be taken throughout the year with lead bullets.

The use of lead shot for upland bird hunting is still legal but at least two military bases with public hunting programs (Fort Hunter Liggett and Camp Roberts) have banned lead shot as an area-specific regulation.

Do You Need to Measure When Hooping?
Question: A lobster fisherman who uses hoops told me that everyone aboard a vessel and hooping for lobster must have a measuring device in possession. I can understand a team of divers having to individually possess a measuring device, but is it true that everyone aboard a small vessel must have their own device or will one measuring device suffice for everyone aboard? (Fred H.)

Answer: Your friend is correct. Every person while taking invertebrates which have a size limit shall carry a device which is capable of accurately measuring the minimum legal size of the species taken (CCR Title 14 Code Section 29.05 [c]). Therefore, everyone must carry their own gauge.

Is It Legal to Release Domestic Animals and Hunt Them?
Question: Is it legal in California for someone to take a ram or a pig and let it loose on public BLM land … and then hunt them? (John S.)

Answer: No, it is not legal to release domestic animals onto property that does not belong to the owner or the governing public agency. It is also against the law to relocate wildlife (F&G Code 2118).

#  #  #

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.

Cormorants Dining on Trout?

Cormorants are fish eating birds that enjoy feasting on small trout, bass and other aquatic species in many of our lakes and reservoirs. They occur in both inland and ocean waters. Presently, cormorants are migratory birds under protection of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.(Photo: DFG file photo by Laird Henkel)

Question: I watched a Fish and Game hatchery truck stock a nearby lake last week with about 100 pounds of catchable trout. Afterwards between 25-55 cormorants hung out to catch and eat trout over the next few days while anglers caught very few. I want to fish at this lake but truly believe that the trout are already gone. What part of my fishing license fees are dedicated to the feeding of these birds? Is it possible for bigger fish to be stocked that cannot be swallowed by these birds? (John T.)

Answer: Cormorants do eat fish, including the trout that the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) raises and plants with the dollars that come from the sale of fishing licenses. In the past, many fish and game agencies throughout the nation, including the DFG, have tried various control and even eradication programs to reduce cormorant numbers and increase fish populations.
Idaho tried raising trout to16-18 inches on a limited basis to reduce cormorant predation. The cost of feed and extra time tied up in hatchery ponds raising the fish to a larger size was extensive. Bird predation was reduced because of the difficulty of catching and swallowing the larger fish. Since larger but fewer trout were planted, limits were reduced and the water basically become a trophy trout fishery or a catch-and-release fishery with bait restrictions. Other states have tried rotating planting schedules and planting at night during the cormorant nesting season when their food requirements peak according to DFG Information Officer Harry Morse.

In most instances these programs were not effective or were cost prohibitive.

Presently, cormorants are migratory birds under protection of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS.) According to retired Senior Fishery Biologist Dennis Lee, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department petitioned the USFWS, so far unsuccessfully, for broader tools for decreasing the cormorant population. Some groups have called for cormorant population reduction via shooting in areas where dozens, if not hundreds, of these birds congregate to feed. USFWS research in the Great Lakes region has shown that cormorants will avoid such danger by moving to another area where they are not harassed. While that might immediately reduce pressure on an individual body of water, control measures over an entire region would be necessary for effective population reductions.

Unfortunately, DFG does not have a viable solution for reducing cormorants or other types of predation on stocked trout. As an alternative, you might check the DFG’s Web site for trout stocking information and look at our online fishing guide for another nearby lake. Hopefully, these two resources will help you to have a more successful fishing trip free of pesky cormorants.

Is It Legal to Take Non-Licensed Passengers Along to Observe While Fishing?
Question: As an avid fisherman on a private vessel at a slip, I often take friends out hoop netting or fishing. Often these friends are perfectly happy to operate my boat while I tend the fishing line(s) or hoop nets. Do these companions need to have a fishing license as long as we follow the bag limits and limits on nets and lines in the water for a single fisherman? It is often a spur of the moment decision to go out, and sending my guest off to get a license for one or two hours of fishing is inconvenient at best. (Jack Z.)

Answer: It is legal to take non-licensed passengers along to observe you while fishing or hoop netting as long they do not engage at all in any of the actual sport fishing activities. It is only in the commercial fishing industry where those who assist with the boat handling and other tasks need to have their own commercial fishing license.

Possession of Loaded Firearms in a Vehicle
Question: During the MA-1 (muzzleloader/archery only) deer season last December, I was talking with some hunters about the new electronic firing muzzleloaders (CVA Electra). Since they are unlike the normal “cap and ball” guns, how would the law regarding possessing a loaded firearm in a vehicle apply with these guns? (Jeff H.)

Answer: The gun you are describing is one in which the trigger is essentially an electronic switch powered by a 9-volt battery which ignites the powder to fire the projectile. According to tactical weapons specialist Lt. John Nores, removal of the powder, 9-volt battery or projectile from the barrel would make the gun “unloaded” per statute (Fish and Game Code Section 2006).

Are lobster Card Numbers Supposed to be Written on Your Fishing License?
Question: I have heard that people with the new lobster card are being cited for not writing their lobster card number on their fishing license. Presently there is no provision on the license similar to the abalone card calling for this. (Confused in S.B.)

Answer: Lobster card numbers are required to be recorded on the fishing license of the person using the report card (CCR Title 14 Section 1.74c(5)). This means it would be a violation to not write the lobster report card number on the corresponding fishing license. The fact that there is not currently a printed location for the lobster card number to be recorded does not make it legal to ignore the requirement of the law. Fishing licenses are not required for people under the age of 16 so this regulation doesn’t apply to those individuals. Abalone divers have been cited for this violation as well.

# # #

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.