Tag Archives: invertebrates

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.

How to Identify Hatchery vs Wild Trout

Angler with a wild Klamath River Steelhead that was soon released. (DFG Photo)

Angler with a wild Klamath River Steelhead that was soon released. (CDFW Photo)

Question: How do you tell a hatchery trout from a wild trout in Central Valley rivers? The regulations for the Stanislaus River below Goodwin Dam state you can keep two hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead. Hatchery steelhead have clipped adipose fins. If I catch a trout and it has an adipose fin, do I just assume it’s not a hatchery trout? (Judi A.)

Answer: Hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead are those showing a healed adipose fin clip (adipose fin is absent). Unless otherwise provided, all other trout and steelhead must be immediately released. Wild trout or steelhead are those not showing a healed adipose fin clip (adipose fin is present) (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 7.50).


Squirrels for crabs
Question: Can legally taken California ground squirrels (a non-game mammal) be used for bait in Dungeness crab traps? (Bret H.)

Answer: Yes, ground squirrels can be used as bait, but remember they are also vectors of a number of flea borne diseases, so use caution when handling them.


Hunting around my house
Question: I live in a rural area. Can I legally hunt within 150 yards of my own residence? Can I hunt within 150 yards of anyone else’s if I have their written permission? (Jess K.)

Answer: Yes. These are safety zone restrictions but as long as there are no other local laws or ordinances that prohibit hunting or the discharge of a firearm, then you can hunt within 150 yards of your own residence or any other residence where you have obtained express permission of the owner or person in possession of the premises (FGC section 3004(a). (LED Feb 14)


Catch and release fishing during a closed season
Question: In the freshwater regulation hand book under Section 1.38 it states: “CLOSED SEASON. That period during which the taking of fish, amphibians, reptiles, mollusks or crustaceans is prohibited.” This leads to my question regarding whether a person can still fish during a closed season as long they release all the fish they catch? In other words, I would practice catch and release and use barbless hooks to protect the fish from further harm. The regulation restricts the taking of fish, but no fish will be taken. I am very confused. Can you help clarify? It’s kind of twisted and confusing. (Robin O.)

Answer: Fishing during a closed season is prohibited, period. Even though you don’t intend to take any fish away with you, the definition of take is to “Hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill fish, amphibians, reptiles, mollusks, crustaceans or invertebrates or attempting to do so” (CCR Title 14, section 1.80). Therefore, despite your best methods, even the attempt to fish is prohibited.

There are few exceptions, but the take of crayfish other than with hook and line is authorized when a stream is otherwise closed to fishing (CCR Title 14, section 5.35(e)). Typically, crayfish may be taken only by hand, hook and line, dip net or with traps not over three feet in greatest dimension (CCR Title 14, section 5.35). Most crayfish have no limit and the season is open all year. However, Shasta crayfish are protected and so there are specific river and lake closures listed for their protection in the 2014-2015 California Freshwater Fishing Regulations booklet (see page 21), as well as online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/. Look for subsection (d) of this section for the closed waters to avoid.


Taking crabs by SCUBA
Question: I am heading to the beach this weekend, I bought a fishing license and I am planning to do some SCUBA diving. Can I take a big bag with me and collect up to 35 rock crabs from the ocean using SCUBA? (Jimmy P.)

Answer: Yes. Take of all crabs of the Cancer genus, except Dungeness crabs, but including yellow crabs, rock crabs, red crabs and slender crabs is allowed all year. While using SCUBA, crabs may be taken by hand only with no hooked devices in possession (CCR Title 114, section 29.80(g)).

The limit is 35 and the minimum size is four inches measured by the shortest distance through the body, from edge of shell to edge of shell at the widest part, except there is no minimum size in Fish and Game districts 8 and 9 (around Humboldt Bay). They may be brought to the surface of the water for measuring, but no undersize crabs may be placed in any type of receiver, kept on the person or retained in any person’s possession or under his direct control; all crabs must be measured immediately and any undersize crabs must be released immediately into the water (CCR Title 14, section 29.85 (b)(c)).

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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

Diving for Lobsters with Hoop Nets

DFG Marine Biologist Travis Buck holds a California spiny lobster caught in a traditional hoop net (DFG photo)

CDFW Marine Environmental Scientest Travis Buck holds a California spiny lobster caught in a traditional hoop net (CDFW photo)

Question: In regards to catching California spiny lobster, the regulations say the following: Both rigid and collapsible hoop nets may be used from piers and boats. When fishing from a boat, five nets per person are allowed with no more than ten traps on a boat. When fishing from a pier, two hoop nets per person are allowed. Divers are limited to catching lobster by (gloved) hand only.

This leads me to my question. Is it legal for a snorkeler/diver/free diver to swim their hoop nets out to the desired location to drop and then retrieve their traps by hand, while floating in the water? This seems like a good option for people who do not own boats to set traps from and for divers when visibility is so poor that it’s impossible to see lobsters to catch by hand. (Joshua)

Answer: No, you cannot legally take fish hoop nets out to a fishing location while free or scuba diving. The law says that when diving for crustaceans (free or scuba diving), you may take crustaceans by the use of hands only (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.80(g)). If you are in the water, you are diving. You can scout where you want to set your nets when diving, but then you need to stop diving and get out of the water to set and retrieve your hoop nets. If you don’t want to buy or borrow a boat, you can set traps from a kayak, a long board or even a stand up paddle board. Just be sure to wear a life jacket if you do!


Property rights via access by ATV down a dry river bed?
Question: During the last week of deer season, I approached a man riding a 4-wheeler who was obviously hunting since he had a rifle case. He was riding down the dry river bed for over a mile where it’s private property on both sides of the river. He argued with me that he had a right to be there as long as he stayed under the high water mark. I told him he could not be there and could not cross private property at all unless if in a boat and didn’t touch the river bar/land. He got huffy with me so I let it go and he proceeded on his way. What is the law when it comes to a river running through private land? (Heather D.)

Answer: This is a very complicated area of the law and will vary based on the characteristics of the waterway, the ownership of the land, the agencies involved and a number of other factors. In other words, before people get on their ATVs thinking they have the right to ride down dry river beds through private property, they should do some research to see exactly who owns or manages the land, what the characteristics of the dry waterway are and be absolutely sure they have a right to be there and won’t be trespassing. All situations are not the same and the laws may vary from place to place.


Pooling crabs?
Question: What is the boat limit for taking crabs other than Dungeness? I plan to have between two and four people (all with fishing licenses) on my private boat and need to know the answer to this question. Thank you very much for your help. (Jay T.)

Answer: You may not pool your crabs since boat limits apply only to finfish and not to invertebrates (CCR Title 14, section 27.60 (c)). With crabs, individual bag and possession limits apply. For crabs of the Cancer genus (excluding Dungeness crabs) including yellow crabs, rock crabs, red crabs and slender crabs, the limit is 35 crabs per person. Each crab must measure a minimum of four inches from edge of shell to edge of shell at the widest part (except there is no minimum size in parts of Humboldt County).


Bow and arrow hunting with a slingshot?
Question: Can a slingshot be used as a bow or crossbow? Would it be legal to hunt with an arrow and slingshot? (Anonymous)

Answer: Yes, a slingshot can be used as a bow or crossbow as long as it can cast a legal hunting arrow (except flu-flu arrows) a horizontal distance of 130 yards, and as long as it meets one of the definitions of bows and crossbows listed in the Title 14 regulations. To be sure your slingshot meets the requirements, please go to http://www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/, click on “CA Code of Regulations, including Title 14” and look up Title 14, section 354, subdivisions (a), (b) and (f).

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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.