Tag Archives: regulations

How Many Feet in the Water to Enter a Legal Hunt Zone?

California mule deer (photo by Carrie Wilson)

California mule deer (photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: While hunting during archery season in August, I ran into a situation that I could use your guidance on. While at my campsite, a hunting partner of mine observed a buck feeding near the creek that we were camped near. I was hunting in D7. Unfortunately for me, the buck was on the north side of Deer Creek, and therefore in X9A. I quickly got my bow while my hunting partner sat quietly at camp and watched. I quietly moved into position and waited for the deer to cross the creek. He never did, so therefore I had to let him go, of course.

When a zone’s boundary is defined by a creek, river or other body of water, when is the animal considered to be within your zone and therefore legal to take? Can you take him when he’s drinking and touching the water? Does he need to have two or four feet in the creek? Does he need to completely cross and be across the creek and completely in your zone? Or does he need to be clear of the creek bed all together? What is the law? (Kevin K.)

Answer: The deer would have had to be at least halfway across the creek to be into the correct zone. Keep in mind that animals shot with bow and arrow or a rifle can travel a substantial distance, so it is wise not to hunt right on the border of a zone. A non-lethal shot could easily take you immediately into the closed zone where your tag is not valid.


Ocean sunfish – you can take them, but what then?
Question: I saw some ocean sunfish laying around on the surface in waters off Sonoma County. Are they legal to take? Is there a website or a listing of which fish are illegal to catch? (Anonymous)

Answer: Yes, ocean sunfish (Mola mola) may be taken by licensed recreational fishermen. While some ocean species have fishing regulations that pertain only to them (e.g. rockfish and salmon), other species do not. Species for which there are no specific regulations, such as ocean sunfish, are covered under section 27.60 on page 34 in the current Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet. The daily bag limit for species covered under section 27.60(a) is: 10 fish of any one species, with a total daily bag limit of 20 fish. This means you can take up to 10 ocean sunfish plus 10 other fish per day, for a total of 20 fish. Fish that fall under this section do not have seasons (open year-round) or size limits.

Please be aware that ocean sunfish are not a species targeted by most recreational fishermen. This species is generally not considered to be good eating. Keep in mind that it’s a violation to waste a fish after you have taken it (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.87), so you might want to research that a little more before finding yourself in possession of a large fish you don’t care to eat.


Carrying shotguns for ducks and doves at the same time
Question: You recently answered a question about having two shotguns in a duck blind. That made me wonder whether the two shotguns can be loaded with different ammo. For example, if it’s dove season, can I have a 12 gauge shotgun for ducks and keep a 20 gauge loaded with lead shot for doves? (Allen S.)

Answer: Yes, you can carry more than one gun, but while waterfowl hunting, you are required to possess only non-toxic shot regardless of the shot size. Both shotguns must be loaded with non-toxic shot.

In addition to non-toxic shot requirements for waterfowl hunting, nonlead ammunition is now required when hunting on all state wildlife areas and ecological reserves regardless of the species pursued. And when hunting during waterfowl season, hunters may only have 25 shells in the field, regardless of the difference of shot size. This means hunters on state wildlife areas are limited to non-lead and only 25 shells total for doves and ducks, combined.

For more information on the phase-out of lead ammunition for hunting in California, please visit http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/nonlead-ammunition.


Corn for carp bait?
Question: Can you point me in the right direction to see the regulation regarding the use of whole corn kernels as bait, specifically for carp, but in general as well? Numerous people have told me corn is illegal to use in California, but I’ve looked through the regulations book at least four times and can’t find anything saying it’s illegal. (Tony)

Answer: The general bait regulation for inland waters says that treated and processed foods may be used as bait, and there is no prohibition on the use of corn kernels (CCR Title 14, section 4.00). This question comes up quite a bit because some states do not allow corn to be used as bait, but California does.

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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.

Drifting for Ducks

(Photo courtesy of David A. Jones, Ducks Unlimited)

(Photo courtesy of David A. Jones, Ducks Unlimited)

Question: Is it legal to drift down or anchor a boat in a river to hunt for waterfowl? The river is in the “Balance of the State” zone and is surrounded by unincorporated privately owned farmland, with the occasional house or barn visible from the water. I know you cannot discharge a firearm within 150 yards of a dwelling or near a public road, and I know that all motors must be out of the water. Would drifting be considered forward motion? (Anonymous)

Answer: Drifting is not considered “under power.” What you describe would be legal as long as you access the river from a legal access point, and once you’re hunting, your motion is not due to momentum provided by the motor before it was turned off. You must also take into account the retrieval of the birds you take. Should you take a bird that lands on private property that you do not have the authority to access, you run the risk of a hunting trespass for retrieval, or waste of game if you do not retrieve it. Also, you need to remember not to discharge a firearm within 150 yards of an occupied dwelling, and these may be difficult to see from the river. Finally, there may be other state or local ordinances and regulations (such as no shooting zones) or other restrictions that may prevent you from hunting the section of water you want to hunt.


Importing insects?
Question: I would like to start up a business importing exotic dead insects into California to preserve and sell as curiosities. I realize that if they were alive, that’d be easy (No Bueno!), but what about dead ones? I propose to import them dead but not preserved, and then preserve them myself. Would it make a difference if I imported them already preserved? Aside from this sounding like the intro to a bad ‘50s giant bug movie, is what I am proposing to do legal? (Brent G.)

Answer: State fish and wildlife laws don’t prohibit importation or sale of insects, but there are other laws that you may need to be aware of. You should contact the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Some creatures, although dead, may still contain live eggs within. And if any of the species you propose to import are restricted species, border inspectors will not likely differentiate between whether they are dead or alive.


Compound bow fishing for sharks?
Question: Is it legal to bow hunt sharks? Someone told me a man in California took a 550 pound mako shark with a compound bow. (Robert S.)

Answer: Spears, harpoons and bow and arrow fishing tackle may be used for taking all varieties of skates, rays and sharks, except white sharks. Such gear may not be possessed or used within 100 yards of the mouth of any stream in any ocean waters north of Ventura County, nor aboard any vessel on any day or on any trip when broadbill swordfish or marlin have been taken. Bow and arrow fishing tackle may also be used to take finfish other than giant (black) sea bass, garibaldi, gulf grouper, broomtail grouper, trout, salmon, broadbill swordfish and white shark (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 28.95).

Regarding crossbows, under hunting regulations, a crossbow is not considered archery equipment. But under fishing regulations, crossbows may be used for bow and arrow fishing tackle. It does not matter what type of bow or crossbow is used under legal bow and arrow fishing, but a line is required to be attached to the bow and the arrow/bolt (CCR, Title 14, section 1.23).


Carrying rifles through a game refuge?
Question: How do I legally travel through a wildlife game refuge on the way to hunting on the other side of the refuge? With bolt action rifles, we take the bolt out so that it’s not a functioning gun anymore. What about with a lever action gun? How can we legally cross through the game refuge? (Erin)

Answer: The possession of firearms is not prohibited “when traveling through any game refuges when the firearms are taken apart or encased and unloaded. When the traveling is done on a route other than a public highway or other public thoroughfare or right of way, notice shall be given to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) at least 24 hours before that traveling. The notice shall give the name and address of the person intending to travel through the refuge, the name of the refuge, the approximate route, and the approximate time when that person intends to travel through the refuge” (Fish and Game Code, section 10506).

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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.

Fishing Ocean Pinnacles?

(NOAA photo)

Offshore pinnacle (NOAA photo)

Question: I have a question regarding fishing offshore banks and pinnacles for rockfish. The regulations state fishing in the Southern Management Area is allowed on the shoreward side of the 60 fathom (360 ft.) depth contour. Does this mean any water shallower than the specified depth contour? For example, there are offshore banks where the pinnacle of the bank is in water less than 360 ft. deep, but there is technically no “shoreward side” of this depth contour. Is fishing for groundfish on offshore banks allowed as long as the depth restrictions are met? (Logan M.)

Answer: No. You can only fish shoreward of the 60 fathom (360 ft.) depth contour line, even if there are banks or pinnacles beyond that are shallower than the depth limit on the ocean side of the depth contour line. You are required to stay on the shoreward side of depth limit lines when fishing for groundfish.

Depth constraints are defined one of two ways. During the open season, groundfish species may only be taken or possessed in water depths shallower than the specified depth (per California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.20(a)):

In waters shallower than 30 fathoms, “depth” is defined by general depth contour lines. In waters equal to or deeper than 30 fathoms, “depth” is defined by approximating a particular depth contour by connecting the appropriate set of waypoints adopted in federal regulations (50 Code of Federal Regulations Part 660, Subpart C).

When fishing in waters shoreward of lines approximating the 60-fathom depth contour, since the depth is equal to or deeper than 30 fathoms, the waypoints provided in federal regulations will need to be used to determine the depth contour line (CCR Title 14, section 27.45(b).


Land ownership tags?
Question: After 15 years of active military service my family and I are moving to Lassen County. How many acres of land do I need to own in order to apply for land ownership deer tags? (Shawn M.)

Answer: Cooperative Deer Hunting Area landowner tags are available for owners of land encompassing not less than a total of 5,000 acres, of which each individual landowner within that 5,000 acres must own a minimum of 640 acres to qualify. These are areas of private land located within critical deer habitat as determined by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) in deer quota zones that require public drawings (CCR Title 14, section 360).

Cooperative Deer Hunting Areas are designed to encourage the protection and enhancement of critical deer habitat, to provide added protection to landowners from depredations of trespassers and to provide greater access for the public to hunt on privately owned or controlled lands. CDFW may establish cooperative hunting areas and issue permits for the take of deer as specified subject to the conditions listed above (CCR Title 14, section 554).

Another option is the Private Lands Management (PLM) program where tags are issued to landholders. Under this program, CDFW offers landowners incentives to manage their lands for the benefit of wildlife. Landowners who enroll in this “ranching for wildlife” program consult with wildlife biologists to make biologically sound habitat improvements that benefit wildlife (by providing water sources, planting native plants for food, making brush piles for cover, etc). This partnership between wildlife managers and private landowners helps conserve and maintain wildlife habitat in our state.

For application forms and to learn more about these programs, please go to http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer and http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/plm.


Freshwater boat limits?
Question: If two of us are fishing for black bass from my boat in the Delta, do I have to stop fishing for black bass if I have reached my limit even though my partner has not? I couldn’t find anything about boat limits in the freshwater fishing regulations booklet. (Kin N.)

Answer: At this point, you must stop fishing for black bass but you can change your gear to target other species. Boat limits apply only in the ocean waters, not in the Delta or freshwater systems. Ocean waters are defined as the ocean and San Francisco and San Pablo bays, plus all their tidal bays, tidal portions of their rivers and streams, sloughs and estuaries between the Golden Gate Bridge and Carquinez Bridge (Fish and Game Code, section 195(e) and CCR Title 14, section 27.00).


Shotgun capacity for coyotes
Question: What is the shotgun magazine capacity while hunting coyotes? (Matt A.)

Answer: Only shotguns capable of holding no more than six rounds may be possessed or used for the take of any mammal or bird (FGC, section 2010). Therefore, the maximum shotgun magazine capacity for hunting nongame species, such as coyote, is six. When hunting game species, the limit is three rounds. Remember that in the Condor Zone and on state wildlife areas, the ammunition in the shotgun must be certified as nonlead.

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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.

Legal Hitchhiking?

(CDFW Photo by Athena Maguire)

Lingcod hitchhiking on a rockfish caught on a shrimp fly (CDFW Photo by Athena Maguire)

Question: If I am using a legal shrimp fly rig to fish in California waters for rockfish and a legal-sized lingcod bites and holds onto an otherwise legal-sized rockfish, can I legally gaff and possess that legal-sized hitchhiking lingcod? I am assuming the lingcod has not been hooked in the mouth on my shrimp fly rig, but has merely bitten and held on to the rockfish all the way to the surface. Would this be legal? (James O. Peterson)

Answer: Yes. The take of “hitchhiking” lingcod with a gaff is legal as long as the fish is of legal size. Gaff hooks cannot be used to take or assist in landing any finfish shorter than the minimum sizes limit. Gaffs also cannot be used to take salmon, steelhead, sturgeon or striped bass.


What does new mandatory deer hunt reporting mean for hunters?
Question: I’ve noticed the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) are now requiring all deer hunters to report their deer tags. Every person who is issued a deer tag must submit a report for the tag either online or by mail after the hunt, even if they did not hunt or did not harvest a deer. Does this new regulation mean that mandatory validation of all deer tags by an authorized individual is no longer the case? If not, why? Doesn’t mandatory reporting cover all circumstances, except for the poacher types? Given that we are required to participate in more and more validation reports, is it possible that down the line this information will be used to close a zone or severely limit tag numbers? Will more and more zones be transformed into draw only, such as what occurred with the B zone a few years ago? (Bill A.)

Answer: The reporting regulation did nothing to change validation requirements. Hunters have always been allowed to transport deer from the kill site to where it’s going to be validated and the tag must still be validated. Many folks are authorized to validate deer tags (see the current California Mammal Hunting Regulations booklet, pp. 2-13 for full list), but if one of those people are not available, the online reporting system will provide a number to at least prove that the tag has been reported.

According to CDFW Wildlife Programs Manager Craig Stowers, this is a harvest report (not a “validation report”). Successful deer hunters have always been required to report their take. However, due to hunter failure to report, tags picked up in the field and never sent in for processing, or even losses in the mail, we know darn well that we don’t get all the successful take reports.

Harvest information is an important component of population estimates, so you are partially correct in that this information is used to set tag quotas. California’s deer populations are stable, but given the high demand for tags, it is highly likely we will see more zones go to draws in the future. There is no system we could design and implement that will allow deer hunters to get any tag they want, whenever they want.

Here’s one example of how the harvest report system could help deer hunters: calculations of the hunter success ratios that so many hunters seem to use to make their hunt selections. Many hunters get tags they don’t use, but we used to include those hunters in the success calculations. This reporting system gives us a handle on that so we can provide tighter, better information than we ever have before.


Two anglers sharing one rod?
Question: If there are two guys with fishing licenses and they are fishing from shore, is it legal for them to share one fishing pole between them? If so, can both anglers continue fishing until they both get their limits of fish? (Kong C.)

Answer: This would be legal, but CDFW recommends that each angler have their own bags or stringers for the fish they catch in order to keep them separate. It is not legal for one person to catch their limit and then to continue fishing to help their friend get their limit. If each person keeps their own fish separate, there will be no confusion if asked by a warden to display the fish they’ve caught.


Eotech or red dot sights?
Question: Can I legally hunt deer in California with my Eotech Holographic sight on a rifle? Since it has a lighted dot but does not project a visible light outside of the viewfinder, I assume it would be legal but want to be sure. (Ken M., Redding)

Answer: As long as the sight does not emit a directional beam of light, then it may be used (Fish and Game Code, section 2005). The problem comes when a light is emitted out away from the rifle or bow sight to give the hunter what some would consider an unfair advantage over the game. A light might also substantially contribute to hunting before or after legal hours.

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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.

Is Boat Captain Responsible for Illegal Acts of Passengers?

Private boatQuestion: A friend of mine took some of his friends’ parents on his boat to go rock picking for abalone. Unknown to my friend, some of the parents picked extra abs and chose the biggest three of the lot to keep. It was clearly illegal and they were cited when they got back to the docks.

Since my friend was just transporting people out to the spot where they could find abalone, was he responsible for what they did once they got off his boat after rock picking? He doesn’t want his boat blacklisted. (Craig)

Answer: Typically, someone in your friend’s situation would not be cited for the violations of the passengers, especially if there is no question of who possessed the abalone. However, if the passengers claimed the abalone were not theirs, or if there were overlimits on board, an officer could cite everyone on the boat for jointly possessing the abalone. In this case, each person who violated the law was responsible for their specific violation. As far as the boat being “blacklisted,” the warden who made the case may pay special attention to this boat in the future because of the actions that took place in the past.

The best advice for your friend is to be educated on the fishing laws that pertain to the activity his passengers are engaging in, and to share this knowledge with the people on his boat.


What’s my recourse for wasted game citation?
Question: Yesterday I was cited for wasted game. My son and I were hunting Eurasian dove at a local feed lot in Southern California. I was approached by the wardens who did all of the normal checks, told us they were watching us from afar, then asked us if we had dropped any birds we didn’t retrieve. I said yes, one in a stagnant pond and one in amongst a herd of cows, which I tried to retrieve but the bird was wounded and flopped away into another pen. He asked why I didn’t retrieve it and I told him I’m broke (bad knees) and couldn’t get through the nasty stuff in the pens. I then sent my son in to push his way through the cows and he retrieved the bird for me in front of the warden. The warden checked to see that it was a Euro, which it was, I put it in my game bag and he still cited me for it. What if any recourse do I have when I go to court? (Jim R., Lake Elsinore)

Answer: Just tell the judge your story. However, since you shot these birds without making sure you were doing so in a location where you could retrieve them, and because your intention had been to let them lay where they landed because they were too difficult to go after, you did intend to leave them where they ended up … that’s “wanton waste” or “wasted game.”


Using a pressure washer to dig up clams?
Question: Can I use a pressure washer to dig geoduck and/or gaper clams? (Vuong M.)

Answer: No. Clams may be taken only on hook and line or with the hands. The only special provisions allowed are for the use of spades, shovels, hoes, rakes or other appliances operated by hand, except spears or gaff hooks (CCR Title 14, sections 29.10(a) and 29.20(c)). Pressure washers are not a legal method of take for mollusks.


Capture and keep rattlesnakes as pets?
Question: Is it legal to capture and keep rattlesnakes as a pet? I know it’s not smart, but is it legal? (Phil C.)

Answer: Yes, except for the red diamond rattlesnake where no take is allowed – so be sure you can identify your snakes! Before collecting anything, you should first check with your local animal control agency and police or sheriff regarding whether any local ordinances apply in your area. Under state law, all pit vipers (except for the five other California native rattlesnakes listed in California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 671(c)(7)(E)) are restricted species that may not be possessed without a permit. Keeping live, native rattlesnakes (except for the red diamond) is not prohibited by Fish and Game laws. No license is required to take or kill other rattlesnakes in California, but the daily bag and possession limit is two. The take of other species of reptiles and amphibians for pets requires possession of a sport fishing license. The daily bag and possession limits are provided in CCR Title 14, sections 5.05 and 5.60. And if you live with the city limits, you might want to check your city ordinances to determine whether possession of a venomous reptile is allowed.

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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.

Electronic Decoys, Sunrise/Sunset and Bowfishing for Tuna

Gray Lodge Wildlife Area (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Gray Lodge Wildlife Area (Photo by Carrie Wilson)


Question: I need some clarification regarding electronic waterfowl decoys. My duck blind partner and I are contemplating buying one of the new electronic decoys. These brand new electronic decoys have wings that flap up and down like a real bird. They can either be motorized tug lines that move the decoys, or electronic feet that cause rotation or flapping of the feet, or they may spray water or swim. The wings on these decoys do not spin or rotate in any way but they are electronically powered. Due to how these are operated, our understanding is that these are legal decoys that can be used throughout the entire season. Please clarify so that we know we’ll be on the right side of the law. (Anonymous)

Answer: Some electronic waterfowl decoys are legal to use throughout the season and some may not be used between the start of the waterfowl season and November 30. Here are the differences:

Electronic decoys NOT legal to use between the start of the waterfowl season and Nov. 30: Electronically powered rotating or spinning wing decoys are prohibited during this period. Instead, all rotating or spinning wing decoys must be powered exclusively by the wind. Regulations (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 507) only prohibit wings and wing-simulated devices that spin or rotate on an axis, if the movement is caused by anything other than natural wind (e.g. decoys with wings that spin by mechanical device and wings that flap and “rotate on a bi-lateral axis”) and they are used before Dec. 1.

Electronic decoys legal to use throughout the season: Decoys that simulate flapping, swimming, quivering, moving or squirting, but do not have rotating or spinning wings, are legal all season long. Examples include: decoys with mechanical feet or heads, wings that ONLY flap, wings that spin only by wind, etc..

The exact language of CCR Title 14, section 507 reads as follows:
Provisions Related to the Taking of Migratory Game Birds.
(c) Prohibition on Electronically or Mechanically-operated Devices.
Electronic or mechanically-operated calling or sound-reproducing devices are prohibited when attempting to take migratory game birds. It is unlawful to use devices that are either electronically-powered, or activated by anything other than natural wind, to directly or indirectly cause rotation of decoy wings or blades that simulate wings, when attempting to take waterfowl between the start of the season and Nov. 30.

In addition, decoys that use flashing lights on the wing are also illegal as lights are illegal to use to assist in taking any game (Fish and Game Code, section 2005).


Sunrise and sunset times
Question: Can you clarify how to determine the correct shooting hours for big game? The California Mammal Hunting Regulations booklet reads, “Hunting and shooting hours for big game, including but not limited to deer, antelope, elk, bear, and wild pig shall be from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.” Are sunrise and sunset published times for a specific location, or are they when the sun actually rises above the horizon or sinks below the horizon for the exact position where the hunter is standing? I ask because I’ve noticed published times can be quite different from what I am seeing in the sky when I am standing in a mountainous area. If the times are published, where may I find the correct sunrise/sunset tables for a specific location? (Al B.)

Answer: The sunrise and sunset times you should use are either those times printed in the local newspaper for the area where you are hunting, or if you look in the 2014-2015 hunting regulations booklet for waterfowl and upland game, go by the shooting hours times listed on pages 8-9 for the location closest to where you are. Although times will vary slightly, there are many other sources including a GPS which will give the time for your exact location, and many cellular telephones have information available for the closest town or your exact location.

Safety should always be your first priority though. For example, if you’re hunting in a deep canyon with high walls that partially block out the sunlight normally visible at sunrise or sunset, you should adjust your shoot times accordingly to be sure you are not shooting in the darkness.


Bowfishing for tuna?
Question: With all of the tuna hanging around outside Dana Harbor right now, would it be legal to fish for them using bow and arrow fishing gear? (Ryan T.)

Answer: Bow and arrow fishing tackle may be used to take fin fish other than giant (black) sea bass, garibaldi, gulf grouper, broomtail grouper, trout, salmon, broadbill and white shark. Yes, tuna would be an “other finfish,” but to be legal, the gear must meet the definition of bow and arrow fishing tackle in CCR, Title 14 section 1.23.

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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.

Hunting Big Game using Cell Phones and Radios?

Hunting while using the assistance of cell phones and radios is legal in California but many don't consider it ethical (USFWS photo)

Hunting while using the assistance of cell phones and radios is legal in California but many don’t consider it ethical (USFWS photo)

Question: Is it legal while hunting big game to have a spotter guide a hunter to the animals using cell phones or radios? (Frank H.)

Answer: While it’s illegal in some states, it’s not in California. In states where it is banned, it is because they believe using radios and/or cell phones while big game hunting is not an ethical method of stalking and hunting wildlife. Currently, California has no such law and so radios and cell phones are legal.


Black Cod – Sable
Question: We occasionally venture offshore for albacore later in the season and are wondering if it is legal to sportfish for black cod or sablefish in deep water. We are talking about 800 feet or deeper waters using deep drop gear. We see commercial fisherman out there long lining for these fish. (Peter C.)

Answer: What you describe is not legal. There are six Recreational Groundfish Management Areas along the coast of California (see page 9 of the 2015-2016 Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet). Depending on the management area, the depths range from approximately 120 feet to 300 feet. The only allowance for a recreational boat to possess groundfish, including sablefish/black cod, in areas deeper than allowed or closed to the take of groundfish, is when that boat is in transit with no fishing gear in the water (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.20(b)). There are a few species exceptions, like Pacific sanddabs, which is why the angler must carefully read the section pertaining to the management area where he/she will be fishing.


Slingbow modification
Question: I have a few questions regarding using slingbows in my area and possible changes to my method. I want to get into slingbow fishing since spearfishing in freshwater is illegal in my area (San Luis Obispo County). Is it legal here in this county? And if so, is it restricted to above the water’s surface or can I shoot fish underwater using snorkel and mask?

Second question … If it is legal to use a crossbow underwater, instead of using arrows, would it be legal to shoot carp with a Hawaiian sling shaft from a slingbow if it’s attached to a line or reel? If not, is it restricted to arrow use only? (Anonymous)

Answer: Using a slingbow or crossbow underwater would constitute spearfishing and would not be legal as spearfishing is defined as “the taking of fish by spear or hand by persons who are in the water and may be using underwater goggles, face plates, breathing tubes, SCUBA or other artificial underwater breathing device” (CCR Title 14, section 1.76).

A slingbow would only be legal as bow and arrow fishing tackle if the arrow is attached to the slingbow by a line or attached fishing reel (CCR Title 14, section 1.23). But, in San Luis Obispo County, all public lakes have ordinances prohibiting possession of bow and arrow fishing tackle on or along these water bodies. So a slingbow with attached line/fishing reel could only be used on private ponds or lakes and only for fish species listed under section 2.25 on page 15 of the current Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.


How to stop neighbors from leaving food and water for wildlife?
Question: What can be done legally to stop my neighbors from leaving food and water outside for animals? Raccoons and rats have invaded our homes and yards and are leaving unhealthy feces behind, tearing the fabric on our patio furniture and causing other problems. How can we get them to stop? (Sally S.)

Answer: Many people think they are helping wild animals when they provide food and water for them. However, all they are doing is luring the animals into conflicts with people living in the area. CDFW provides information about the inadvertent negative results on our website (search for “feeding wildlife”). You could start by educating your neighbor about the harm they are doing by providing them some of the information, and then hope that their heart is in the right place and they will stop. If the actions continue, some cities have passed local ordinances that make it illegal to feed wildlife, and CCR Title 14, section 251.1 makes it unlawful to harass wildlife (causing them to alter their normal behavior), which can include feeding them. Hopefully, educating your neighbors will preclude having to get law enforcement personnel involved.

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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.