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 and

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

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