Tag Archives: sturgeon

Can a Private Boat Owner Be Cited for a Passenger’s Violation?

California Spiny Lobsters at San Clemente Island (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Question: I have my own boat and take friends out lobster fishing with me. I always make sure each person has their license and report card. I also make sure each person has their own bag and keeps each lobster they catch separate as they catch them. My question is, if the game warden finds a short lobster in one of their bags, am I held responsible as the boat owner or would the owner of that bag be responsible? Also, do boat limits apply when fishing for lobster? (Jerry E.)

Answer: Lobsters may be brought to the surface of the water for measuring, but no undersize lobster may be brought aboard any boat or retained. All undersize lobsters must be released immediately into the water (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.90). If the bag or undersized lobster is claimed by any person aboard the boat, that person would most likely be issued a citation for possession of an undersized lobster.

If no one claims the lobster, the game warden can issue citations to everyone aboard the boat (joint possession). Or, since the boat is the property of the skipper, the skipper may be the only one cited because the undersized lobster is possessed aboard the skipper’s boat. Of course, prevention is the best solution, so if in doubt, set it free.

Sport fishing boat limits apply only to fin fish, not lobster. This means that once a lobster fisherman harvests the daily bag limit of seven, he or she may no longer fish for lobster.


Lead ammo for pistol in condor country?
Question: In the lead-free condor zone, can I carry a pistol that is loaded with lead ammo for self-defense, with the intention of NEVER using it for hunting purposes? The purpose of carrying it is for self-defense only. Of course I’ll be carrying lead-free ammo for my rifles, but I want to know about the side arm. Personally, I carry either a Glock 20 in 10mm or a Ruger 44mag. (Brandon C.)

Answer: You may not use or possess lead ammunition in the condor zone while hunting, even if you have no intention of using the lead ammunition to shoot wildlife. For more information on the non-lead requirements in condor country, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/condor/.


Selling sturgeon eggs from a legally-taken sturgeon?
Question: If I catch legal-sized sturgeons with eggs, can I sell the eggs because I don’t eat them? (Byron M.)

Answer: No. It is illegal to sell any portion of a sturgeon or any fish taken under the authority of a sport fishing license (Fish and Game Code, section 7121).


Grizzly bear tooth
Question: I received a grizzly bear tooth amongst some of my grandfather’s possessions after he passed away. My grandfather grew up here in California and was an amateur geologist and never hunted, so I think he either found or purchased the tooth, although I have no proof. I was wondering if it is legal to possess or sell the tooth here in the state of California. I don’t want to break any laws. (Laura J.)

Answer: It is legal for you to possess it but you cannot try to sell it. The sale or purchase of any bear part in California is prohibited (FGC, section 4758 (a)). Even offering it for sale over the Internet is a federal violation that could make you subject to prosecution under the Lacey Act. You may possess the tooth or give it away, but you may not sell it.

Sounds to me like you have an interesting piece of California’s history, as grizzly bears are extinct in the state — Enjoy it!


Retrieving hoop nets with rod and reel?
Question: Is it legal to use a rod and reel as a retrieval device for a hoop net? For instance, I would connect an 18-inch hoop net to the line of my rod and reel (without hooks) and this would allow me to cast the net in order to better fish for lobsters from a jetty. Is this OK? (Jeff C.)

Answer: Yes, you may use a rod and reel as a retrieval device for your hoop net. You are not required to pull your net by hand, nor are you prohibited from pulling it using a rod and reel.

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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.

Charity Dinner with Donated Game

Celebrity chef Scott Leyseth from the Sportsmens Channel prepares wild game for a charity event to feed the homeless in Sacramento in Novemer 2013 (Photo courtesy of Holly Heyser)

Celebrity Sporting Chef Scott Leyseth from the Sportsmens Channel prepares wild game for a recent charity event in Sacramento to feed the homeless (Photo courtesy of Holly Heyser)

Question: An organization I belong to wants to do a benefit event with donated fish and game meals prepared for the homeless and the hungry. I know that waterfowl regulations are set by the federal government, but wonder if it may be possible to accept donated wild ducks and geese and turn them into a meal for a few hundred. It would be a one-day event to draw attention to a local shelter and help boost the image of us hunter types as charitable people who help to conserve our resources. At some point, someone is going to be over their possession limit to make this happen. Obviously, we won’t charge for the event, and our organization often leaves a generous donation to the facility, but I always thought there was a possession problem. Whaddaya think? (Scott L.)

Answer: Yes, an event like this can be done. A designated person may receive and possess game birds and mammals from multiple donors to give to or prepare for a charitable organization or charitable entity (under Fish and Game Code, section 3080) as long as they have:

1)    Copies of the hunting licenses and validated tags for the species possessed. They must be issued for the current or immediate past license year and signed and dated by the donor confirming the donation.

2)    The charitable organizations or charitable entities receiving and distributing game birds or mammals for charitable or humane purposes, must maintain the documentation described above for one year from the date of disposal.


Fishing license for collecting seaweed?
Question: Is a fishing license required to collect seaweed? (Jane S., Monterey)

Answer: A fishing license is not required to take seaweed but there is a daily bag limit of 10 pounds wet weight in the aggregate. There are three prohibited species that may not be cut or disturbed: eel grass (Zostera), surf grass (Phyllospadix) and sea palm (Postelsia).


Legal shoot time
Question: If you are sitting in your duck blind waiting for legal shooting time, and you have a shotgun loaded and ready to go (in other words shells in the magazine and chamber), can you be cited for hunting before legal shooting time? Some say yes since you’re loaded up and ready to go, so you are technically “hunting” (even if you have the shotgun sitting in the corner of the blind and never touch it until the legal shoot time). Others say it’s legal because you aren’t shooting … so as long as you don’t fire the gun, you’re good. Who’s right? (Eric M.)

Answer: As long as you make no attempt to take a duck, there is no violation for loading your gun as you wait for legal shooting time. However, having a live round in the chamber while you are waiting is not advised for safety reasons.


Abalone reporting
Question: How do I go about reporting my annual abalone harvest take? I just want to find out where I should go on the website to report my abalone harvest. Otherwise, do I have to mail the original in by mail? Please advise. (Richard S.)

Answer: You have two options. You can either report your abalone harvest date online at www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/harvestreporting, or you can mail your completed Abalone Report Cards to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
32330 N. Harbor Drive
Fort Bragg, CA 95437-5554

Cards or card data must be submitted to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) by Jan. 31, 2014, even if the card holder did not take or even try to take abalone. If you choose to report online, you must still retain the card for 90 days in case the CDFW requests you to also mail it in. All card data provides information necessary for annual take estimates. If the abalone card return rate is not adequate for catch estimates, the CDFW will consider penalties for failing to return cards.


Fishing for sturgeon
Question: When sturgeon fishing, is it true we cannot use sinkers on leaders or steel leaders? I don’t find these laws stated in the regulations booklet, so are they true? (Mon S., Stockton)

Answer: When fishing for sturgeon, only one single barbless hook may be used on a line (see California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 5.80 and 27.90.) The use of sinkers or steel leaders while fishing for sturgeon is not prohibited in most waters, but the use of any hook that is attached closer than 18 inches to any weight exceeding one half ounce is prohibited (CCR Title 14, section 2.10(b)(2)). (Exception: Sacramento River from Keswick Dam to the Highway 162 Bridge, no wire leaders may be used and no sturgeon may be taken.)

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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.

Golden Sturgeon?

(CDFW photo)

Ryan Mayfield holding a white sturgeon (CDFW photo by Harry Morse)

Question: I caught a couple of sturgeon recently that were golden around the edges of the fins. I called them “golden sturgeon” but have never heard of sturgeon being this color. They were 40-45 inches in length. Could they just be young white sturgeon, or are they something else? (Dan)

Answer: According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Sturgeon Monitoring Program Manager Marty Gingras, California has only green and white sturgeon, and those species have never been hybridized. We’ve never seen or received reports of a white sturgeon that looked golden. A “golden sturgeon” is most likely a green sturgeon that appears a bit golden. Please remember that green sturgeon may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 5.81(b)).

To differentiate between green and white sturgeon, here are a few quick and easy tips:

  • Dorsal scutes (bony plates) – Greens have 1-2 dorsal scutes trailing the dorsal fin, but on white sturgeon they are absent
  • Vent – Greens have the vent between the pelvic fins, but on white sturgeon it’s found toward the tail
  • Belly stripe – Present on greens but absent on white sturgeon.
  • Scutes along the side – Greens have 23-30 scutes while whites have 38-48

The first three characteristics above are most readily apparent and should help correctly identify the species. Sometimes the bluntness of the snout and location of barbels is mentioned, but these are variable and somewhat subjective.

You mentioned the fish you caught were 40-45 inches in length and you wondered if they were young. Unfortunately, not much is known about green sturgeon, but white sturgeon of that size are usually 10-15 years old, and quite likely have not yet  spawned for the first time.

For more information on sturgeon, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Resources/Sturgeon/.


Are lighted arrow nocks legal for bowhunting?
Question: I would like to use luminocks or nocturnal lighted nocks on my hunting arrows to help better recover arrows after the shot. I’ve heard current laws were being amended to allow the use of lighted nocks on arrows for bowhunting. I plan to hunt for bear and deer but want to be sure they are legal in California? (Carl)

Answer: Yes. As of July 1, 2013, the following regulation was amended to specifically allow lighted nocks. Please see the last sentence below.

CCR Title 14, section 354(c): For the taking of big game, hunting arrows and crossbow bolts with a broad head type blade which will not pass through a hole seven-eighths inch in diameter shall be used. Mechanical/retractable broad heads shall be measured in the open position. For the taking of migratory game birds, resident small game, furbearers and nongame mammals and birds any arrow or crossbow bolt may be used except as prohibited by subsection (d) below. Notwithstanding the general prohibition of the use of lights in Fish and Game Code section 2005, arrows or crossbow bolts with lighted nocks that do not emit a directional beam of light may be used.


Video while fishing
Question: I am an avid videographer and I like to take a lot of video while fishing. I recently purchased a camera mount that will allow me to take underwater fishing videos while trolling. My plan is to set this up on a separate pole with heavy line to drag behind the boat as we fish. The only thing on the end of the line will be the weight and camera. There will be no lures or hooks on the line. The video will not be used in an attempt to take fish. Instead, I will use it later when I edit videos of my trip to provide hook up and action scenes. Is any of this against fish and game regulations? Can having the camera mounted at the end of the line on a pole not being used for fishing be considered as another rod in the water? Just want to make sure I am not doing anything wrong in case we get checked by a warden. (Gerry M.)

Answer: As long as the rod is used only for video equipment and is not as an additional rod to take salmon, this is all legal.


Replacing lost deer tags
Question: After a long search I am certain I have lost my deer tags. How do I get replacements before my hunt next Saturday? (Jim C., Yuba City)

Answer: Replacing a lost or destroyed big game tag (deer, bear and pig tags) can be done only through a CDFW license sales office and requires signing an affidavit and paying a fee of $9.79.  The duplicate tag can be obtained in person or through the mail.

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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 Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.