Question: When bowfishing for game fish, like carp, is it legal to have a green 5mW visible laser on your bowfishing bow or crossbow? I know that visible lasers on a bow or crossbow are prohibited for the use of hunting animals on land, but I’m just not sure about for fish in freshwater. Having a laser helps compensate for light refraction in the water because aiming at a fish that is not where it looks like it is can be quite tricky.
Also, besides the regulations in section 1.23 and section 2.25, are there any special seasons or rules that I have to follow for using a crossbow? I ask because I heard that crossbows in California can only be used during rifle season for land game.
Using a crossbow to bowfish is only mentioned one time in the freshwater regulation booklet, most of the text says “bow and arrow fishing.” I want to be prepared to explain to a park ranger or wildlife officer (given I am in an area designated for bowfishing) that I can use a crossbow. What code sections should I cite or what should I say? (Alexander A.)
Answer: Yes, it legal to have a green 5mW visible laser on your bowfishing bow or crossbow. When bowfishing in freshwater, you need only follow the regulations in sections 1.23 and 2.25. What you say about crossbows for hunting being legal only during rifle season is correct, but as long as you’re fishing and not hunting, this should not be an issue. The main difference between fishing and hunting is that a crossbow is not considered archery equipment for hunting purposes but is considered legal bow and arrow equipment for those fish species that may be taken by bow and arrow. In order to avoid unwanted attention from law enforcement, I discourage you from shining your laser on land.
Using rockfish for bait?
Question: In a recent column you stated that “Any finfish that is legal to take or possess in California may be used as bait in your lobster hoop net.” I assume this rule applies equally to using rockfish as hook and line bait for lingcod, but on my last party boat trip I was prohibited from using a small gopher rockfish for bait by a crewman who insisted that this would be illegal. Is it legal to use a whole rockfish (or a slab cut from a whole rockfish) for hook and line bait? I understand that the bait fish would count toward my limit. (Randy Pauly)
Answer: Yes, as long as the fish you’re using is legal to catch and keep, and as long as you count it toward your daily bag limit, you can legally use it as bait to attract larger predator fish, such as lingcod, to your hook. If the fish you’ll be using for bait has a size limit, you would need to be sure it was of legal size.
How to find a legitimate hunting guide?
Question: Can you direct me to a legitimate site to book a hunting trip? How can we hunt on government land? What are the costs? (Cheri W.)
Answer: You can find a list of guides licensed through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) at http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Guide (click on “Look up licensed hunting and fishing guides) but no recommendations in support of any particular guide or hunting service. Hence, your best bet is to contact other hunters to ask about their experiences in order to help you decide which guide service to go with.
You can hunt on certain government-owned (public) lands in California. Public lands in California are primarily owned, operated and maintained by CDFW, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Department of Defense or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Each of these agencies has developed rules and regulations for the lands they administer. They provide details of which lands are open to public access for outdoor recreational activities (including hunting), and the time of year they are open. Some of these lands are open year-round with no access fees, but some lands are open only certain times of the year with an access fee. Moreover, some public lands are entirely closed to all public use, mostly for protection of certain plant and animal species.
Generally speaking, most big game mammal hunting occurs on CDFW, BLM, Military or Forest Service lands. Small mammal and varmint hunting occurs on BLM and Forest Service lands. Waterfowl and upland game bird hunting occurs on CDFW and USFWS lands.
For the regulations governing the use of CDFW lands, please go to http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Lands. For other land management agencies, please contact them directly for rules or regulations concerning their lands.
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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.