Author Archives: CDFW

Scouting with Scuba for Abalone?

(Photo by Derek Stein for CDFW)

Scuba divers cannot assist a free diver in any way when pursuing abalone (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Question: Is there any regulation prohibiting a photographer with scuba gear from also scouting out large abalone for a regulation-compliant abalone diver to take? Thanks in advance, and for all you do. (Dave C.)

Answer: The photographer in scuba cannot assist the free diver in any way. The action you describe falls within the definition of “take” under the Fish and Game Code and its regulations (see Fish and Game Code, section 86 and California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.80). Both the abalone diver and the photographer with scuba gear may be cited for violating CCR, Title 14 section 29.15(e), which prohibits the use of scuba gear to take abalone.


Ocean whitefish fillet size limit
Question: I noticed in the new ocean sport fishing regulations that ocean whitefish fillets are required to be a minimum length of 6½ inches long and retain the entire skin intact. However, there is no minimum size limit for the whole fish. Why is there a size limit on fillets but not on the whole fish? (Jim Martinez)

Answer: The reason is because previously in the regulations, the basses (kelp, sand and spotted) all had 12 inch minimum total lengths or 6½ inch minimum fillet lengths, and were required to retain 1-inch patches of skin still attached for identification. Ocean whitefish fillets looked so similar to the bass fillets that they too were required to measure a minimum of 6½ inches with skin attached to avoid confusion with the basses. This year though fishery managers increased the minimum lengths of the basses to 14 inches and the minimum fillet lengths to 7½ inches. Because there was no biological reason to increase fillet lengths on the ocean whitefish, scientists chose to leave their minimum fillet lengths at 6½ inches and to require all skin to be left on so that there still could be no mistaking ocean whitefish fillets with fillets of one of the three bass species.


Hunter Ed question regarding a someone with a felony
Question: My father-in-law is interested in big game hunting. Unfortunately for him, he has a non-violent felony conviction which bars him from possessing a firearm. This will allow him to only hunt via archery methods.

Does he still have to take the standard hunter safety course or is there a special class for archery only? I have a feeling he has to take the standard course even though all the firearms questions will have no bearing on his archery tackle pursuit. If he does take and pass the course, may he still hunt during the general deer season using a crossbow with me?

I pride myself on knowing CDFW law well, but this wrinkle throws me for a loop. He is a great guy who just made a bad choice more than 12 years ago. Now that I married his step-daughter and am such an avid hunter, he wants to get in on the fun, but only as the law allows. (Anonymous)

Answer: He will still have to take Hunter Ed, but he will have to find a class that does not use real firearms or have a live-fire requirement in the class. While signing up for the class or else at the very beginning of the class, your father-in-law should notify the instructor immediately of any firearms restrictions he may have. Then the instructor can determine how best to accommodate him during the class. For a list of available hunter education classes in his area, please go to http://www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/hunting/.

Hunter Ed isn’t just about firearms. It includes all forms of hunting, hunter safety, conservation, ethics, etc. In most cases convicted felons are not restricted from using archery equipment or air rifles but he should check with his parole officer or the court to make sure the conditions of his case do not preclude using these methods of take for hunting.


Practicing spearfishing in rivers?
Question: I know it is not legal to spear fish in rivers. However, if I want to take my spear to the river to practice my technique with no intention of taking any fish, am I abiding by the law? (Zoe D., Trinidad)

Answer: Spearfishing is permitted in some rivers, such as those in the Colorado River District and the Valley District (as authorized under CCR Title 14, section 2.30) but primarily only for a few species of non-game fish. New this year, spearfishing for stripers is now legal in the Valley District. Even if just practicing your techniques, don’t forget your fishing license! Otherwise, the use and possession of a spear within 100 yards of any canal, river, stream, lake or reservoir is specifically prohibited (CCR Title 14, section 2.09).

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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 Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Seized Fish and Game … What Happens To It?

Seized overlimit of crappie (CDFW photo)

CDFW game wardens, working from an anonymous tip, apprehended three poachers fishing in Clear Lake and seized 151 crappie (76 over the limit). The trio plead no contest and paid stiff fines in excess of $7,200 (CDFW photo from 2007).

Question: What do the wardens do with the seized abalone, crab, cod, salmon, etc.? You can’t tell me that it gets thrown away! (Austin)

Answer: When unlawfully taken fish or game is seized, it is kept as evidence until the case is settled or until the judge orders it returned. In most cases though, if at all possible and in good condition, seized fish and game is given to the homeless shelters or soup kitchens that allow donations of wild fish and game. Because of inspection requirements, some facilities may not be able to accept these donations. If a suitable facility cannot be found, the evidence is thrown away or destroyed. In some commercial cases involving commercial size loads, the Fish and Game Code allows for this evidence to be sold and the proceeds may be used by the Department.


Shrimp fishing
Question: I would like to do some shrimp fishing but when I read the regulations, they say shrimp traps can’t have an opening larger than a half-inch in diameter in waters south of Point Conception. This makes it impossible to catch any of decent size. Are there different regs for spot prawns which are quite large and could never fit through this size hole? (Jesse Link)

Answer: Your reading of the regulations is correct on the size of the trap opening, and you are also right about the opening size making it impossible to catch large spot prawn. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) senior marine invertebrate specialist Kristine Barsky, when that regulation was developed, there was no interest in catching spot prawn recreationally. The reason was because they are found so deep (80 to 100 fathoms) and it is time-consuming to raise and lower traps to that depth when the daily bag limit is only 35 shrimp. In more northern states spot prawns are found in shallower water, but off Southern California they stay deep. The opening was kept small to prevent take of short lobster in this area.

As always, you are free to develop suggestions for regulation changes that you may present to the Fish and Game Commission. For more information regarding this process, contact the California Fish and Game Commission at fgc@fgc.ca.gov or visit their website at www.fgc.ca.gov.


Fishing during closed season
Question: In the freshwater regulation hand book under Section 1.38 it states: “CLOSED SEASON. That period during which the taking of fish, amphibians, reptiles, mollusks or crustaceans is prohibited.”

Can a person still fish during a closed season as long they release all the fish they catch? In other words, I would practice catch and release and use barbless hooks to protect the fish from further harm. The regulation restricts the taking of fish, but no fish will be taken. I am very confused. Can you help clarify?. (Robin O.)

Answer: Fishing during a closed season is prohibited, period. Even though you don’t intend to take any fish away with you, the definition of take is to “Hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill fish, amphibians, reptiles, mollusks, crustaceans or invertebrates or attempting to do so” (CCR Title 14, section 1.80). Therefore, despite your best methods, even the attempt to fish is prohibited. There are few exceptions, but the take of crayfish other than with hook and line is authorized under 5.35 (e) when a stream is otherwise closed to fishing.


Max rounds in hunting rifle?
Question: What is the maximum number of rounds you can have in your hunting rifle? I have heard it is five rounds but other people have said the California limit is 10 rounds. What’s the correct answer? (Nick Holly)

Answer: Most rifles hold three to five rounds, but the California penal code allows for up to 10 rounds. There are no California Fish and Game Code sections that address limits on the number of rounds a rifle may hold. Remember the Penal Code prohibits the purchase or sale of any centerfire rifle or magazine that holds more than ten rounds. There are many rifles out there that were purchased long before these laws went into effect that are perfectly legal. Many people own .22 caliber rifles with tube magazine and high capacities. These are not outlawed and can be used for hunting small game.  Many people have carbines and other rifles bought long ago and they too are still legal even with a 30 round magazine.

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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 Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Stowing Gear through Marine Reserves?

Fishing gear shall not be deployed in the water while transiting through a state marine recreational management area, state marine park or state marine conservation area. (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Fishing gear shall not be deployed in the water while transiting through a state marine recreational management area, state marine park or state marine conservation area. (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: I would like a definition of “stowed” in regard to fishing gear while transiting a state marine reserve. The reason I ask is that a sport fisherman reported he was stopped by a patrol boat at the Channel Islands and told he could have been cited for having his rods in the rod holders. He was told he should have had them in his small cuddy.

It does not seem reasonable to require my buddies and I “stow” all our rods and reels in my cabin every time we need to make a move across a state marine reserve. Or when we are at an island, we should not be required to drive six miles out, then whatever distance across, and then back in another six miles … at $4 or more a gallon. All of this would be quite a hardship for those of us fishing from private sport boats just to stow our fishing gear when maneuvering around state marine reserves. (Fred H., Anaheim)

Answer: There is no requirement for equipment to be stowed under the Marine Life Protection Act laws covered in section 632 of the California Code of Regulations Title 14. CCR Title 14, section 632(8) covers the law you are referring to as follows:

Transit or Drifting. Vessels shall be allowed to transit through marine protected areas and marine managed areas with catch onboard. Fishing gear shall not be deployed in the water while transiting through a state marine reserve. Fishing gear, except legal fishing gear used to take species identified as allowed for take in subsection 632(b), shall not be deployed in the water while transiting through a state marine recreational management area, state marine park or state marine conservation area.


How to catch an octopus?
Question: My Italian grandmother asked my brother and me to bring home some fresh octopus so that she can make her favorite pasta dish. The only problem is we don’t know how to catch them. Can you help us out? (Joe K.)

Answer: You will have to be creative on this one. Fortunately, there are no size limits on octopus and the bag limit for each of you is 35 (CCR Title 14, section 29.05(a)). California sport fishing regulations allow you to catch them only by hook and line or with the hands (CCR Title 14, section 29.10(a)). You cannot catch them with traps or spears. The most common way to successfully catch them in California is by hand while diving with snorkel or scuba equipment. It’s also unlawful to use any chemicals, such as bleach, to attempt to disturb octopi from their hiding locations.


Use of electronic calls out of season?
Question: I was wondering if it is legal to use electronic calls for animals and birds out of season for things such as bird watching or scouting? I have heard yes and no from different people, so I want to clarify. Also is it even legal to call with non-electronic calls out of season? (Taylor F.)

Answer: Yes, this would be legal as long as you do not have any methods of take with you. The prohibition against electronic calls only applies when “taking” birds/mammals (Fish and Game Code, section 3012 & CCR Title 14, section 475(b)).


Don’t eat those mussels!
Question: Yesterday we collected a few mussels at low tide at Chicken Ranch Beach with the kids (past the Inverness Yacht Club). They are of a decent size, about 3 to 4 inches, and all black. Are they safe to eat? (Ben)

Answer: Don’t eat those mussels! There is currently an advisory out against consuming sport-taken shellfish in Marin County – please see www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/NR13-009.aspx . A great Q&A about mussel quarantines is located at www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/MusselQuarantineFAQ.aspx. The California Department of Public Health shellfish biotoxin information line is (510) 412-4643 or toll-free at (800) 553-4133 – you can check with them at any time to see whether there are advisories in effect for your area. And finally, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) posts advisories on the CDFW website at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/healthadvisory.asp.

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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 Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Archery Practice Down a Dirt Road?

(Photo by Michigan DNR)

The most important factor to always keep in mind while archery shooting is public safety (Photo by Michigan DNR)

Question: My neighbor who lives a few houses down from me has a 15-year-old son who shoots his BB gun in his backyard. I used to shoot my bow in my backyard until my dad found out it’s illegal. I am 13 and live in the mountains of Southern California (close to San Bernardino) and am hoping it might be legal to practice my archery by shooting down a dirt road? Can you please let me know ASAP? Thanks. (Ashmanger)

Answer: Generally, Fish and Game Code laws only regulate the use of archery equipment or firearms while hunting. However, the same rules for firearms apply to archery equipment in this situation – you may not shoot over or across a road or within 150 yards of a neighbor’s home, barns or outbuildings, even if just archery target shooting (Fish and Game Code, section 3004). If you are on a private road on private property (off the public roadway), no Fish and Game Code law prohibits target practice with your bow and arrow. Beyond this, different counties and communities may have more restrictive ordinances that they enforce so you should check with your local law enforcement office for this information.

The most important factor to always keep in mind is public safety. Well-traveled roads and highways, or even those occasionally traveled, are not appropriate places to shoot. If you were to injure another person or livestock, or damage property, you could be subject to civil and possibly criminal prosecution. While shooting even just off a road may be legal, it may not be safe.


Hooks for salmon in San Francisco Bay?
Question: When fishing for salmon from the bank in the San Francisco Bay with spinning lures, is a single barbless hook ok or does it have to be a barbless circle hook attached to the spinning lure? (Terry D.)

Answer: Barbless circle hooks are only required when fishing with bait and angling by any means other than trolling. Since you’re not using bait, no circle hooks are required, even though you are not trolling. You must be doing both things – using bait, and fishing in a manner that is not trolling – to be required to use barbless circle hooks. In addition, you should be using no more than two single-point, single-shank barbless hooks with your spinning lure (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.80.)


Fishing attractant or pollutant?
Question: I have heard that spraying WD-40 on a fishing lure as a fish attractant works well. Is it legal to use? There seems to be much confusion as to what is actually in WD-40. I would also like to know if the sunscreen I put on before entering the water is hazardous to marine life. (Ray I.)

Answer: It is not legal to spray WD-40 on your fishing lures as an attractant. The same goes for any substance that may be harmful to fish (e.g. sunscreen).WD-40 contains petroleum and is specifically prohibited by law to be deposited or introduced into the waters of the state (Fish and Game Code, section 5650). When it comes to sunscreen, I would just try to use discretion as any foreign substance, even sunscreen, may carry chemicals that may be harmful to fish and other aquatic life if introduced in large enough quantities. General rule of thumb is when applying sunscreen, wait 20 minutes before swimming for it to completely soak into skin so that it is less likely to wash off in the water.


How to determine private vs public property?
Question: How do I find if a body of water is legal to fish out of? I am wondering about a local lake with a public road that leads up to it. There are no private property signs posted anywhere. However, from a boat you can see signs are posted in some of the yards. (Anonymous)

Answer: Even though private property perimeters are required to be either fenced, under cultivation, or posted with no trespassing signs at 1/3 of a mile intervals (Penal Code Section 602.8) so the public knows or can determine correctly if the property is private, it’s best to stay on the safe side. If you can’t find signs specifically prohibiting access, trespassing and fishing, you may want to contact your local sheriff’s office, which should be able to define which waters and properties are public, which are private and where the boundaries are.

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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.

The most important factor to always keep in mind while archery shooting is public safety

Why Do Turtles Sold as Pets Have a Size Limit?

Red-eared Slider - Trachemys scripta (CDFW photo by Dave Feliz)

This is a Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta), a common turtle in the pet trade. They compete in the wild with our native Western Pond Turtle, so they should never be released. (CDFW photo by Dave Feliz)

Question: Is there a size limit on the sale of turtles that are sold as pets? (Robert Bruce, Antioch)

Answer: Yes, federal and state laws require that turtles must have a carapace (shell) length of at least 4 inches to be imported, sold or distributed (California Code of Regulations Title 17, section 2612.1). This restriction was brought into effect under the Public Health Services Act by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1975 to address the problem of Salmonella infections in children. I have heard this size was determined to help prevent children from putting these small reptiles into their mouths. Prior to the ban there were an estimated 250,000 cases of turtle Salmonellosis in children and infants that were associated with pet turtles in the United States (Source: http://exoticpets.about.com/od/reptilesturtles/a/turtlesales.htm.)


Sabiki rig?
Question: I frequently fish at the Point Arena pier but am not clear on a specific rule. I know you may only have two hooks on one fishing line, but is it legal to use a Sabiki rig with multiple small hooks to catch bait fish? (Steve Lum)

Answer: When fishing from Point Arena pier, you can use a fishing rod with multiple hooks as long as you don’t have rockfish, cabezon, greenling or lingcod in your possession. If you happen to catch one of these species while using more than two hooks on your line, you must release the fish.

You are limited to no more than one line and two hooks when fishing for rockfish, cabezon, greenling and lingcod, or if these species are in possession. On a public pier, you can use up to two fishing appliances (rod and reel, hoop net, crab trap, etc.) with no restrictions on the number of hooks (unless you are targeting the species mentioned above or have them in your possession).


How to legally exchange bear skulls and claws?
Question: Are there any regulations prohibiting someone from giving me a bear skull or claws if legally taken either in California or out of state? No money or goods would be exchanged. Would I need to have proof to show where the parts came from or who gave them to me? (Tom H.)

Answer: No. If the skull or claws were taken from a bear in California, and as long as no money or goods were exchanged for the acquisition, you may legally receive and possess these bear parts. If the bear parts are from a bear taken in another state, then you will need to follow the regulations for sale or gifting of bear parts from that state and submit a “Declaration for Entry” form, available online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/.


Why early stop shooting times for turkeys?
Question: I have been turkey hunting in California for several years and always wondered why the shooting times are limited until only 4 pm. I have heard it protects them so they can return to roost in the evening, but this makes no sense since there is an over-abundance of turkeys in California, more than a lot of other states. Many other states allow turkey hunting until sundown, similar to big game. What’s the reason for this early shooting stop time? (Dave Johannes, Modesto)

Answer: Shooting hours for the spring wild turkey season is always one-half hour before sunrise to 4 p.m. The reason for the early stop time in the spring (versus the stop time of sunset in the fall) is because the spring season occurs during turkey breeding season. Only the toms (and bearded hens) may be taken in the spring to allow the hens to nest successfully. The goal is to maximize the opportunities for hunters to take turkeys while protecting nesting hens. Setting this early shooting stop time gives the birds a break from hunting pressure, allows the toms to return to the roost and the hens to get back to their nests.  Historically, the stop time was 1 p.m., but as wild turkey numbers have flourished, the stop hunting time was moved to 4 p.m.

Turkeys typically roost communally and may have only one or no more than a few trees where they roost at night. They become more vulnerable toward the end of the day as they return to their preferred roost. If the turkeys are disturbed along the way by gun shots, they may select unfamiliar roosting areas, thus making themselves more vulnerable to predation.

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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 Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Remote-Controlled Electric Aircraft in California Reserves?

Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (Photo by Robert Sahara)

Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (Photo by Robert Sahara)

Question: I am a conservation advocate and an avid wildlife photographer. Over the last several years, I have been photographing birds and landscape views of Southern California’s wildlife areas. I am interested in expanding this documentation with video, and in particular aerial video taken from a remote-controlled electric helicopter. While I am very aware of the need to not disturb or harass local wildlife, I am wondering if there are regulations that restrict or prohibit the use of RC-aircraft in or around the perimeter of ecological reserves and conservation areas? (Bill K.)

Answer: There is no general prohibition against using radio-controlled “vehicles” in wildlife areas (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 550). However, in ecological reserves, prohibitions against: 1) disturbing any bird, mammal, etc.; 2) operating vehicles; and 3) operating any type of aircraft or hovercraft without permission may apply (CCR Title 14, sections 630(a)(1) & (a)(4) and (a)(17)). There is also a provision that prohibits the use of any motorized, hot-air, or unpowered aircraft or other device capable of flight or any earth orbiting imaging device to locate or assist in locating big game mammals beginning 48 hours before and continuing 48 hours after any big game hunting season in the same area (CCR Title 14, section 251(a)). In addition, a permit could be required if there are concerns your aircraft will “ … herd or drive… or disrupt animal’s normal behavior patterns, which includes, but is not limited to breeding, feeding or sheltering …”

Under federal regulations, this may be illegal if you are using the video for any commercial purpose.  “Under current federal aviation rules, using unmanned aircraft — what commonly are referred to as drones — for commercial purposes is prohibited in the United States.”

Please contact the Regional Manager for the area you intend to visit for information on the application of these laws. For a list of contact numbers available, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/regions/.


Serving abalone at a fund-raiser?
Question: My husband and I are residents of both Humboldt and Sutter counties. We occasionally dive for abalone in Humboldt where we live. If we don’t consume them right away, we freeze them whole in the shell as the local game warden advised us years ago. I also work for a nonprofit hospice in Sutter County and they are having a fundraiser in May at a private house, where many of our staff will prepare appetizers for 100 guests. I want to prepare abalone appetizers from three abalone that we already have tagged and frozen from last season. The event is being professionally catered for the meal and dessert and so they are selling tickets, but no one is paying for or making money from the abalone I want to cook. The abalone is such a minuscule part of the meal. I just want to make sure I am allowed to bring it to an event like this and I was not able to find anything specific about that in the regulations. Please advise. Thank you. (Amy M., RN)

Answer: Sport-taken abalone may not be bought, sold, bartered or traded (Fish and Game Code, section 7121.) If sport-taken abalone are used for a non-profit fundraising dinner, then the cost of attending the dinner must be advertised as a requested donation to the organization putting on the dinner. In your situation, if you are just providing a few abalone for an appetizer, and as long as the dinner is not advertised to contain abalone in order to sell more tickets to the fund-raising dinner, then I think that would be ok. However, you should contact your local game warden where you will be having the dinner to confirm they are in agreement.


Running dogs with GPS for pigs and coons?
Question: Since bear and bobcat hunting with hounds is now banned in the state of California, can we still use GPS collars on hounds for hunting pigs, coons, etc.? (Dean C.)

Answer: You may use dogs to hunt raccoons and pigs, however, the use of GPS collars is prohibited (CCR Title 14, section 265(d)(2)).


Poke poling – need a license?
Question: Do I need a fishing license to poke pole for monkey-faced eels? (Anonymous)

Answer: Yes, the only exceptions are if you are 15 years old or younger or if you are fishing from a public pier or the most seaward jetty of a public harbor. Otherwise a fishing license is required and all regular fishing regulations apply.

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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.

Bow Hunting for Turkeys

Spring turkeys (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Spring turkeys (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: While bow hunting for turkeys last week, I saw a flock of hens and jakes on the side of a highway and I got to wondering if it’s legal to hunt off the side of a highway. I know we can’t shoot across a highway, but exactly how many yards or feet away does a bow hunter have to be? (Rafael O.)

Answer: It is unlawful to discharge a firearm or release an arrow or crossbow bolt over or across any public road or other established way open to the public in an unsafe and reckless manner (Fish and Game Code, section 3004(b)). Definitions for road and roadway can be found in the California Vehicle Code, sections 527 and 530. In addition, most counties have ordinances setting the distance from a public roadway that one must be to lawfully discharge a firearm. Many counties require 150 feet, but this distance varies and you will have to check with the appropriate county’s sheriff’s department to determine the legal distance. It is always unlawful to negligently discharge a firearm, and the discharge of a firearm from or upon a public road or highway is prohibited (California Penal Code, section 374c).


Hand reels
Question: I recently acquired a hand reel (Cuban yoyo.) Are there any restrictions on using one? What part of the Fish and Game Code applies to their usage? (Will E.)

Answer: Yes, these basic hand-held reels are legal to use. Just add some line, tie on your hook, add bait, drop in your line and you’re fishing. It doesn’t get much easier or less expensive than this method. Standard methods apply, so if you are fishing in inland waters (three hooks with bait or three lures with three hooks each) or fishing in the ocean for rockfish (two hooks), you need to follow the hook restrictions as if you had a rod attached. If you do happen to hook a big fish, just be sure you’ll be able to land it!


Starry Flounder east of the Carquinez Bridge
Question: Can you please clarify the starry flounder regulations in saltwater vs. freshwater? I know that flounder are included in the rockfish-cabezon-greenling (RCG) regulations in saltwater, with limits and a definite season. However, when they move upstream (east) of the Carquinez Bridge into inland waters, do the same regulations still apply? Or, may they be taken year-round with no limit as they are not mentioned in the freshwater regulations? (Barbara U.)

Answer: According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Capt. Bob Puccinelli, because the fresh water limits for starry flounder are the same as the ocean limits, the limits would adhere to any closures in ocean waters as well. In other words, when there is an ocean closure (zero limit), there would be a corresponding zero limit in freshwater as well.


Non-lead pellets for squirrels in condor country?
Question: I hunt ground squirrels with pellet guns as I understand they don’t fall into the category of firearms. My question is, do I have to use non-lead pellets? (James T.)

Answer: While not specifically prohibited for pellet guns, the intent of the non-lead ammunition requirement laws is to prevent lead from being introduced into animals that California condors may eat. Ground squirrels could fall into this category but the law does not expressly prohibit lead pellets. Non-lead pellets are available.


Glasses when abalone diving
Question: I wear reading glasses. I don’t like to take my glasses on the beach or in the water with me because I don’t want them to get scratched. However, without my glasses, I cannot clearly read the new abalone cards. Last season I accidentally used the wrong tag (one that was not in sequential order) because I could not read the numbers. What can I do to make this easier? (Zoe D., Trinidad)

Answer: I can empathize with your frustrations. You may want to consider including non-prescription reading glasses and/or a small magnifying glass in your dive bag. Either can be purchased at many convenience stores for under $15. At least with these you would not have to risk losing or breaking your prescription glasses and you will be able to comply with the regulations.

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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.