Diving and Spearfishing without a Fishing License

Diver with a California spiny lobster (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Diver with a California spiny lobster (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Question: I live within 500 yards of the point of entry where I go spearfishing. Does that mean that, according to section 7145, I can just keep my fishing license and lobster report cards at home since they’re within the 500-yard limit? I’m about 200 yards or so from the reef where I dive. (Raf C.)

Answer: Lucky you! When fishing and/or taking lobster, you are required to have your license and spiny lobster report card on your person or in your immediate possession. If diving from a boat, they may be kept in the boat, or if diving from shore, they may be kept within 500 yards of the shore (Fish and Game Code, section 7145(a)). In your case, if your license and report card are located 200 yards from shore (where you enter the water), then you’re OK. Don’t forget that prior to your dive you need to record the month, day, location and gear code on the report card. And when you return, you will have to fill in the number of lobster you kept from that location.


Hunting blinds on public property
Question: I am a hunter myself and while walking on a closed road recently, I noticed someone had built a hunting blind about 25-30 yards off the road with tarps, boards and sticks from the surrounding woods. Can a person legally build a hunting blind in the woods on public hunting grounds and then continue to fix it up to use each year? And if that blind is vacant and not being used, can the person who built the blind claim it as his own or is it first come first serve? (Anonymous)

Answer: It is not legal for someone to build a structure and then leave it on public land. That could be considered littering as well as destruction of public property if public resources are damaged in the process. Thus, your follow up question about whether the blind builder can claim ownership is a moot point.


Abalone diving with homemade snorkel
Question: I made my own snorkel using a flexible hose that is about five feet long. No air supplying motor or any device is attached to it. It’s just a long flexible hose with a check valve in it. If I use it while abalone diving, would I be in violation of any regulations? I am aware of the regulation prohibiting the use of SCUBA gear or surface-supplied air. (Chris L.)

Answer: Although this would be legal, using this type of snorkel would be very dangerous because you must be able to displace used air in your snorkel. You could be seriously harmed from breathing from a long snorkel because the air volume in the snorkel makes it difficult to displace exhaled air. Rebreathing used air can cause death or great bodily harm to a diver. This is why you do not see longer snorkels sold by dive shops.


Fishing in isolated ponds
Question: As our creeks dry up, ponds are formed, with some of them at the road culverts. Is it legal to fish these ponds with a pole, by hand or a dip net? (Jeanne G., Portola)

Answer: In intermittent streams like you describe, what appear to be ponds are actually isolated pools. Although not apparent during the dry season, water may still be flowing, out of sight, under the streambed surface. This is often called “intragravel flow.” Because a creek is still a stream and not actually a pond or lake, the same regulations for the stream will still apply. Fish can only be taken from these waters under the regulations currently applicable for that stream, including seasons, limits, methods of take, etc. To view the current sport fishing regulations for inland waters, please go to http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations or pick up a copy of the booklet wherever fishing licenses are sold.


Selling deer hides
Question: I’m a hide tanner and recently asked a butcher about getting deer hides from him. He was worried about giving them to me because he seemed to think that I would need to have a deer tag for every deer hide. Can you tell me what the legalities are concerning deer hides? I would like to make use of the hides that are being thrown away. Also, do you know of any deer hide sources for me? (David C.)

Answer: It is legal to buy and sell (or gift) lawfully taken deer hides (FGC, section 4303). The person receiving the hides is not required to have a hunting license or tag. However, it’s a good idea for both parties involved to keep records of the transactions to protect against false accusations that the hides were acquired illegally.

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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.

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