Drifting for Waterfowl

(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.


Returning female Dungeness crabs
Question: I was surprised to discover the current regulations do not say female Dungeness crabs must be thrown back. Has there been a change in the long standing regulation that required this? Is it now legal to keep the female Dungeness crab, providing all other stipulations are met (size, season, limit, zone)? (Kurt H.)

Answer: Yes! Sport fisherman may keep the female Dungeness crab – commercial fishermen must throw them back. Since the females are often much smaller and less meaty than the males and lack the large claws, many fishermen toss them back so they can reproduce more young for future generations. The larger females that meet the minimum size requirements also carry the most eggs and produce the most offspring, so it’s beneficial for the population to let the females go. However, there is no law that compels you to do so.


How to legally display mountain lions?
Question:I read where Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed into law a bill allowing the mounting and display of these animals in California. Does that mean that mountain lions taken in other states can be brought into California for mounting and display? (Peter B., Los Angeles)

Answer: No, it is still illegal to import mountain lions. Fish and Game Code section 4800, which was enacted via an initiative measure in 1990, provides that mountain lions are specially protected mammals that cannot be taken or possessed except under limited circumstances related to public safety or protection of property. SB 769, which amended the law in 2011, now allows for the possession of a mountain lion carcass, but only if all of the following requirements are met:

1) The lion was legally taken in California;

2) The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has specifically authorized the possession for the purposes of SB 769; and

3) The carcass is prepared for display, exhibition, or storage, for a bona fide scientific or educational purpose, at a non-profit museum or government-owned facility generally open to the public or at an educational institution, including a public or private postsecondary institution.

Only mountain lions taken for depredation or public safety reasons in accordance with the Fish and Game Code will fall within the SB 769 exception allowing possession of displayed mountain lions.


Yo-yo fishing
Question: I know jug fishing, yo-yo fishing and the use of trotlines with 20+ hooks per line are the norm in the South. I am interested in yo-yo fishing in California for catfish and possibly trying a two-jug trotline with 10 to 12 hooks on the line to catch catfish. My question is: In California, are private (non-commercial) fishermen limited to just one line with three hooks max? In reading the regs, it seems that an extra pole endorsement is just that, for an extra pole, not an extra line. (Mark H., San Bruno)

In regard to yo-yo fishing and trotline fishing, here is an article from 2007 Outdoor Life:http://www.outdoorlife.com/articles/fishing/2007/09/tackle-free-fishing

Answer: You must closely attend your lines at all times and you are limited to two lines with a maximum of three hooks on each line with a two-pole stamp. Otherwise, you must use a single line with three hooks maximum when fishing bait, or three lures per line which could each have three hooks. It is illegal to allow lines to simply fish themselves while attached to a float. For a similar previous question and answer, please go to: https://californiaoutdoors.wordpress.com/2008/11/.

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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.

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