Fishing for Manta Rays in California

bat ray D. Troutte

California Bat Ray (Photo by Dean Troutte)

Question: Is it legal to fish for manta rays in California, specifically in the San Francisco Bay area? (Gina T.)

Answer: Manta rays are generally not found off California, and since they are filter feeders, it may be difficult to persuade one to take your bait. The northernmost limit of their range in the eastern Pacific Ocean is around San Diego, where they are only spotted occasionally. However, if a manta ray were to stray farther north, then yes, it may be legally taken by hook and line off California. I suspect you instead may be referring to bat rays which are more widely distributed and caught fairly regularly on hook and line. If so, they too are legal to take.

California lizardfish
Question: Please verify for me the catch limit on California lizardfish. My understanding is the limit is 10 fish/species with a total bag limit of 20 fish of all species. Right? I don’t see this species mentioned as one of the “no limit” species. Lizardfish are being caught 4-5 at a time on the piers on the Central Coast and someone is telling the anglers there is no limit, so keep all you catch. (Rose H., Santa Barbara)

Answer: You are correct. A bag limit of up to 10 lizardfish per angler is allowed. There are no size or season restrictions for these fish though.

Selling a polar bear rug
Question: I’ve inherited a white polar bear rug that has been in the family for 30-40 years. I have no papers or receipts for it. Can I still sell it? (Christian P., Tulare)

Answer: No. Fish and Game Code section 4758 prohibits the sale of any bear parts, even if the bear is not native to California, and violations are prosecuted as felonies.

Big game baiting
Question: I have a question regarding the “baiting” of big game. In the Mammal Hunting regulations booklet on page 12 it says:

257.5. Prohibition Against Taking Resident Game Birds and Mammals by the Aid of Bait.

Except as otherwise provided in these regulations or in the Fish and Game Code, resident game birds and mammals may not be taken within 400 yards of any baited area.
(a) Definition of Baited Area. As used in this regulation, “baited area” shall mean any area where shelled, shucked or unshucked corn, wheat or other grains, salt, or other feed whatsoever capable of luring, attracting, or enticing such birds or mammals is directly or indirectly placed, exposed, deposited, distributed, or scattered, and such area shall remain a baited area for ten days following complete removal of all such corn, wheat or other grains, salt, or other feed.

Does this also prohibit aerosol attractants? An aerosol is not considered feed but it is “capable of luring, attracting or enticing.” In the regulations it does not specifically prohibit non-feed attractants. (Ken M.)

Answer: This section (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 257.5) prohibits the use of any feed (real or artificial) that is capable of attracting an animal to an area, and when the attractant used causes the animal to feed (on the substance), it is prohibited. Generally, aerosols sprayed into the air are permissible because there is nothing to feed on. But the same products applied to a surface (e.g. tree, brush, rock, etc.) where the animal licks, eats, chews, nibbles, etc. the surface is considered feed and is a violation.

Intentional acts that disrupt any birds’ or mammals’ normal behavior patterns (CCR Title 14, section 251.1), and feeding big game mammals (CCR Title 14, section 251.3) are also prohibited.

For the complete regulations, please go to to find the California Mammal Hunting Regulations for 2013-2014.

Electric fishing reels
Question: Are electric fishing reels allowed in the state of California? (John M.)

Answer: Yes. Nothing in the Fish and Game Code prohibits the use of electric fishing reels manufactured for sport fishing. Acceptable fishing methods and gear restrictions can be found in section 2.00 of the Freshwater Regulations booklet and 28.70(a)(3) in the Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet, available online at or wherever fishing licenses are sold.

#  #  #

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s