Category Archives: Diving

DIY Personal Domoic Acid Testing of Crabs?

Dungeness crabs from San Francisco (photo by Carrie Wilson)

Dungeness crabs from the San Francisco Bay Area (photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: Is there any kind of domoic acid test kit available that a consumer can use to test his/her own crabs? I would think there would be a lot of interest in this. I love to catch and eat crabs but also hate risking getting sick! (Bob W.)

Answer: If you do a google search you will find some kits that state they will detect domoic acid toxins in shellfish, marine algae and water samples. However, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) cannot comment on the suitability of these products to address your concerns. You can minimize your risk though by following California Department of Public Health (CDPH) advisories. In their recent news release, CDPH advised that meat from Dungeness crabs caught in areas where the advisory has been lifted is safe to consume. However, consumers are advised to not eat the viscera (internal organs, also known as “butter” or “guts”) of crabs.

Crab viscera usually contain much higher levels of domoic acid than crab body meat. When whole crabs are cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach from the viscera into the cooking liquid. Water or broth used to cook whole crabs should be discarded and not used to prepare dishes such as sauces, broths, soups or stews (i.e. cioppino or gumbo), stocks, roux, dressings or dips.

To check for current health warnings on the consumption of crabs and other shellfish, I suggest you call CDPH’s shellfish hotline at (800) 553-4133 or visit CDPH’s Domoic Acid health information Web page. This information is always up to date and available via a recorded message 24/7.


If I see a mountain lion, who do I call?
Question: What do I do when I see a mountain lion come on my property? Who do I call? (Darren M.)

Answer: If you see a mountain lion come onto your property, you don’t need to call anyone unless the animal is acting aggressively toward you or your family, or if it appears to be sick or diseased. If you feel it is an immediate threat to you, call 911. But mountain lions are usually just looking for deer or other prey animals.

If you do know you have a mountain lion around your home, I suggest you keep small children, pets and other animals in a protective area, especially from early evening through mornings when mountain lions are most active. If the animal is just passing through, as they typically do, you might just watch it and enjoy the unique opportunity you’re being given to actually see one. Most people will never have the chance to see one in their lifetimes.

For more information, please check out our living with mountain lions webpage.


Do blue catfish reproduce in California?
Question: Do blue catfish reproduce in California lakes? If not, why? (Mike M., Anaheim)

Answer: Blue catfish can reproduce if they are mature (which can take 4-7 years) and the right temperatures and other environmental conditions exist. In the wild, they typically prefer a cave habitat where they can construct a nest (eg: under rock ledges, logs, or undercut banks) and it is the male that guards and protects the eggs and young fry. Catfish farmers often place into their ponds containers like old milk cans to help the spawning catfish establish nests so that the eggs are easily retrieved and further nurtured in the hatchery. In California, spawning season is late spring/early summer, as temperatures are warming.


Lifetime license still valid if I move out of state?
Question: I was looking into the Lifetime Hunting/Fishing license. This may be a stupid question but if I leave the state of California and change my residency, do I forfeit the whole lifetime license? I assume I must live in California in order to qualify. (Bill)

Answer: No, you won’t forfeit it. Under the provisions of a Lifetime Hunting or Fishing License, your license is valid for hunting/fishing when you return to visit even if you move out of state. You would be required to buy non-resident tags for big game species but the license is still valid. For more on the benefits and privileges of hunting and fishing lifetime licenses, please visit the department website.


Can you harvest abalone for a handicapped individual?
Question: Just curious if there are any provisions in the abalone regulations to allow someone to assist a handicapped person. For example, if the person is unable to dive for abalone, can someone else harvest the catch for them? (Todd J., Milbrae)

Answer: No, an individual may only take or possess one daily limit of abalone (which is three). A diver could take three abalone one day, record and tag them with their abalone report punch card and tags, and then give them to a disabled person who is not able to dive. Then the following day, the diver may go out to get three more abalone for themselves, and again, report them on the punch card and tag them in accordance 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.

How to Find Legal Target Shooting Areas?

Target shooting improves one’s shooting skills and accuracy. It is also a great way to introduce someone new to safe gun handling practices and the shooting sports. In this photo, Harry Morse practices his skills at the “Birds Landing Hunting Preserve and Sporting Clays Course” near Fairfield. (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Target shooting improves one’s shooting skills and accuracy. It is also a great way to introduce someone new to safe gun handling practices and the shooting sports. In this photo, Harry Morse practices his skills at the “Birds Landing Hunting Preserve and Sporting Clays Course” near Fairfield. (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: A friend used to own property just outside the city limits and we were able to legally shoot our rifles on his property. Times have changed though and we now need a new place where we can we still legally shoot our rifles and shotguns for sport. We’re not hunters; we just practice target shooting. How do we go about finding places where we can legally shoot? (Gracie R., Carlsbad)

Answer: Your best bet is to contact the closest Sheriff’s Office that patrols the area where you want to target shoot. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) does not regulate target shooting nor keep track of all the potential target shooting areas available to the public. This issue basically comes down to county shooting ordinances and landowner permission. I think you will find most cities do not allow discharge of firearms within their city limits, so contact the local Sheriff’s Office to see what county areas may be open.

For public areas like U.S. Forest Service (USFS) or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property, contact the applicable regional station or headquarters that oversees the area. Some USFS or BLM lands may have designated target shooting or plinking areas. They may also have other areas on their properties where target shooting is allowed, but it’s always a good idea to check ahead of time to be sure it is legal with the applicable county as well.

Otherwise, for public and private gun clubs or shooting ranges in your area, you might try http://www.wheretoshoot.org from the National Shooting Sports Foundation website. I’ve used this site often and they make it easy to find a safe and licensed range in your local area to target shoot or to introduce someone new to the shooting sports.


How to prove the sex of a turkey?
Question: Since only tom turkeys are legal to take during the spring season, how do I prove the sex to an inquiring game warden? Must a wing be left on? A beard left on? Both left on? One or the other left on? (G.B.G.)

Answer: The regulations are intended to require that only tom turkeys may be taken during the spring season, but the law specifically states that the turkey must be “bearded” (a bearded turkey is one having a beard visible through the breast feathers). In most cases a beard will distinguish the animal as male, but in some rare incidents hens may also have them.

Keep the beard attached to the carcass until you return to your residence. You may pluck the bird in the field, but remember to keep the beard connected to the body.

Toms and hens can be easily determined by their significant head and wing color differences. If by chance you run across a rare bearded hen, even though the provisions of the law may allow you to take it, we strongly discourage it. Spring is the turkeys’ primary mating and nesting period so hens may not be harvested in order to protect their production


Catching fish with baited fish traps?
Question: Is it legal to use baited fish traps in Southern California? I see in the regulations where it refers to the use of baited traps to catch a variety of fish species in the San Francisco area (California Code of Regulations, section 28.75). Is this the only place where this method of take is allowed? (Corey)

Answer: Baited traps may not be used to take fish in ocean waters off Southern California. This is legal only in San Francisco and San Pablo bays, their tributaries, etc., and in the ocean and bays off of Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino counties for a few specified species of ocean fish. Only hook-and-line or hand may be used to take finfish (per Section 28.65) unless other, specific permissions are provided in regulations listed in the Gear Restrictions section (which begins on pg. 45 of the current California Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet).


Spearfishing without a license?
Question: I know it’s legal to fish without a license off public piers, but is there anywhere to go spearfishing without a license? (Keith H., Santa Barbara)

Answer: No, there is usually no place you can spearfish without a license, but there are two free fishing days per year, usually around the Independence Day and Labor Day holidays. On those two days, spearfishing without a license is allowed (bag limits and other regulations still 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 Spring Turkeys?

Spring tom turkeys in Northern California (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Spring tom turkeys in Northern California (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: I am interested in bow hunting for turkeys this year but have some questions. 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).


Bringing a speargun into California
Question: I am coming to California from Australia for a diving holiday and wish to bring my own gear, including a spear gun. Do you know what the rules are about bringing one through U.S. customs? (Edward C.)

Answer: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) does not regulate the importation of dive gear, including spear guns. You should check with the Transportation Security Administration (www.tsa.gov) and U.S. Customs (www.cpb.gov) to see if they have any special provisions you must follow.


Live rodents as fishing bait?
Question: I have seen several videos about using live “feeder” mice and rats for bass and trout fishing and was wondering whether they are legal to fish with here in California. I wasn’t able to find any regulations talking about using live mice or rats. If not acceptable to use as a live bait, can they be used if dead/frozen? (Anonymous, Sacramento)

Answer: No. The freshwater fishing regulations do not list mammals as acceptable bait options, so rodents may not be used (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 4.00.)


Hunting Sandhill cranes?
Question: Does California have any type of hunting opportunities for Sandhill cranes? I have seen a couple of videos in which the hunters state that the meat is great and some say it tastes like steak. I tried to research any regulations for them but wasn’t able to come up with anything. Can you please let me know if they can be hunted here? (Jose G.)

Answer: While some states do authorize the take of Sandhill cranes during waterfowl season, there are currently no hunting opportunities for Sandhill cranes in California.


Kangaroo product ban?
Question: I am the owner of a store that sells kangaroo hide boots and other products made of kangaroo leather. I read in the news that California recently re-instated a ban on the import and sale of kangaroo products. Is this true and if so, what should retailers like me know about the ban? (Anonymous)

Answer: You are correct. The ban on kangaroo products went back into effect Jan. 1, 2016. California Penal Code section 653o prohibits the importation, possession with intent to sell, and sale of any parts of specified animals, including kangaroos. Some common retail products made from kangaroo leather are boots, belts, wallets and soccer cleats.

As you know, California retailers are responsible for knowing the laws and regulations of the state of California and must take the necessary efforts to ensure they do not possess kangaroo products with the intent to sell.

Penal Code section 653o may be enforced by any peace officer in the state, including police officers, sheriff deputies, and wildlife officers. A person who violates section 653o is guilty of a misdemeanor and is subject to a fine between $1,000 and $5,000 and up to six months in jail for each violation.

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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.

How to Get to Shore when Boat Fishing is Closed?

Kayak fishing1

Kayak fishing (Creative Commons photo)

Question: I’m aware that during the non-boat rockfish season (i.e., winter/spring), anglers are required to either fish from shore or spearfish for these species. My question is in regard to whether using a boat to access an on-shore fishing spot is acceptable. Specifically, can I use my boat or kayak to reach a good shore fishing location, fish from shore and catch my fish, then get back in the boat for the ride home? I wouldn’t be fishing from the boat, but instead using it to transport me to my shore fishing location. Thanks for your help. (Rick R.)

Answer: No, I’m afraid you will need to strap on your hiking boots and walk in to your favorite fishing spots along the coast during the boat-based fishing closures. Arriving by boat would not be legal as each of the groundfish management areas have a specific section stating, “No vessel or watercraft (motorized or non-motorized) may be used to assist in taking or possessing these species while angling from shore under this provision.” Depending upon which groundfish management area you plan to fish in (Northern [27.25], Mendocino [27.30], San Francisco [27.35], Central [27.40] or Southern [27.45]), this regulation can be found under section (c)(3).


Luring fish with licorice for bait?
Question: My brother and I have two burning questions we have been wondering about. Is it legal to fish with licorice as bait? Also, we observed a man with a syringe injecting air into his bait worms so they would float off the bottom. What do you think the purpose was and is this legal to do? (Marcus O.)

Answer: Processed foods, such as licorice, are legal under bait regulations for inland waters (found beginning in California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 4.00). It is also legal to inject air into a fishing worm and many such kits are found at sporting goods outlets. This method can be a very effective way to keep a worm off the bottom of lakes with heavy bottom vegetation.


Are black mussels from Bodega Bay under quarantine, too?
Question: While we were fishing from the shore in Bodega Bay last weekend I noticed a lot of beautiful black mussels on the rocks. I believe the limit is 10 lbs/person but wanted to make sure it was the safe season to eat them. Are they under quarantine for domoic acid, too? Thank you for your help!!! (Ben L.)

Answer: You are correct that the limit is 10 pounds (in the shell) for California sea mussels and bay mussels in combination (CCR Title 14, section 29.55). Mussels are not currently under quarantine. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) monitors for natural toxins that occur along the coast that may affect wild mussels. Mussels are regularly quarantined on an annual basis, usually from May through October, because mussels are a particularly high risk species because they have the ability to concentrate toxins very quickly. When dangerous levels of toxin are detected in mussels, CDPH will begin testing other shellfish species as well for these toxins, if samples are readily available. If samples are not easily obtained, or if toxin levels are increasing rapidly, CDPH will issue a press release announcing a special health advisory for the potentially toxic seafood species in the affected area.

To check for real time advisories, go to http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/healthadvisory.asp.To check for an advisory or quarantine in advance of any mussel-collecting trip, you can also call the CDPH Biotoxin Information Line at (800) 553-4133. For more information about the annual mussel quarantine, please visit the CDPH website at http://www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/MusselQuarantineFAQ.aspx.


Can pesky squirrels be relocated?
Question: Is it permissible to relocate pesky squirrels that are destroying or damaging private property? (Fred, Redding)

Answer: No. Small nuisance mammals that are damaging property may be taken by the owner but may not be released alive except in the immediate area. Relocating nuisance wildlife not only relocates the problem but also places the critter into an area where it has no established shelter or food and water source, and could potentially spread disease. A depredation permit may be issued for tree (gray) squirrels, unless it is the gray squirrel season when hunters are allowed a four squirrel bag and possession limit.


Must fishing license be carried while spearfishing?
Question: If I am spearfishing from the shore and return with my take, do I need to have my fishing license on my person or can it be in my car? (William H.)

Answer: Persons diving from a boat or shore may have their license on the boat or within 500 yards on the shore, respectively (Fish and Game Code, section 7145).

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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.

Peace Officer, Archery Hunting and Off-duty Weapon

CPW bow hunter_Tyler Baskfield_22336

A peace officer, whether active or honorably retired, may carry a firearm capable of being concealed on his or her person while engaged in the taking of deer with bow and arrow, but shall not take or attempt to take deer with the firearm.

Question: My question is about peace officers carrying a handgun while archery hunting. The way I read the Fish and Game Code, it only states that you may carry a firearm capable of being concealed on his or her person, not that it shall or will be concealed. I always carry a backpack while hunting, and I usually carry my off-duty weapon on the waist belt under a pouch. This is not totally concealed, so is it acceptable or is it going to be left to officer discretion in the field? (Ken)

Answer: Yes, this is acceptable, but make sure to carry your peace officer identification to avoid any confusion.

“A peace officer …, whether active or honorably retired, may carry a firearm capable of being concealed on his or her person while engaged in the taking of deer with bow and arrow …, but shall not take or attempt to take deer with the firearm” (Fish and Game Code, section 4370(b)).


Lifetime fishing license is too long!
Question: I purchased a lifetime fishing license about 10 years ago. What used to be a small piece of paper that I could put in my wallet or keep in my tackle box has grown to where it’s now more than six feet in length. How about giving me a credit card type of license I can recharge every year instead of a new one? This would save a lot of money and be a lot easier to carry. (Michael T.)

Answer
: When lifetime items are renewed online, multiple items (tags, report cards, etc.) ordered together may arrive in one envelope and be printed out together as one long document. This accounts for the document length you describe, but just so you know, you should separate your documents on the dotted line printed between documents to make them more manageable.

According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Associate Governmental Program Analyst Brent George, our License and Revenue Branch at one time considered a credit card system for lifetime license customers. Although the idea has some merit, they found that given California’s large population, and the overall complexity of sport fishing and hunting privileges available throughout the state, this solution is not practical. CDFW always tries to consider all viable options when developing licensing solutions for California’s hunters and anglers.


Spearfishing in Duxbury Reef State Marine Conservation Area
Question: I have a question regarding fishing regulations as they apply to spearfishing in the Duxbury Reef State Marine Conservation Area. The regulation provides that “take of all living marine resources is prohibited except the recreational take of finfish (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 632(a)(2)) from shore and abalone.” Can I swim from shore and spearfish? I would assume the answer is yes because one has to swim from shore to dive for abalone, so swimming from shore to spearfish should similarly be allowed. What about using a kayak to get out to the dive spot? Or, what about inner tubes or boogie boards? (Gary R.)

Answer: Although you may swim from shore to take abalone, you may not spearfish in the Duxbury Reef State Marine Conservation Area. Finfish may only be taken from shore in this area (CCR Title 14, section 632(b)(50(B)).


Need a definite schedule for upcoming grunion runs
Question: I grew up in California but now live in New York. I am coming for a visit and would love to bring my kids to see a grunion run. I have your schedule but want to know if it is a definite schedule. I know they follow the full moon cycle but just want to know if there has ever been a time when you predicted the grunion will spawn on a certain day but they did not? (Andrea C., New York)

Answer: Grunion runs will occur on most southern California beaches, but unfortunately for people trying to see the grunion runs, they may not occur every night on the same beaches and may be limited to small areas of any one beach. Sometimes grunion choose not to run on beaches that are known for grunion runs; only they know why. Long story short, there are no guarantees, but as with most fishing efforts, if you don’t try you certainly will not see or catch any fish!

Grunion will spawn somewhere in their range on the days predicted; if they do not show up on one beach, they are usually at another beach. The schedule predicts the best possible times to view the runs, based on years of documentation of their behavior. Beaches that frequently host grunion runs are listed online under What Every Grunion Hunter Should Know > Best locations, on http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/grunion.asp#hunter.

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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.

Why Don’t Licenses Run Annually from Date of Purchase?

Licensing photoQuestion: Why do fishing licenses run from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 every year rather than from the date of purchase? For example, a person buys his/her license Dec. 1 only to find it expires the end of the month. Then by Jan. 1, they must purchase a new license for the full price. Why not let it go for one full year from the date of purchase? Hunting licenses too run from July 1 through June 30 of the next year. I think license sales would greatly improve if they were changed from date of purchase to the next year. Can someone give a rational answer, please? (Alan E., Los Angeles)

Answer: California has considered changing from a calendar-based sport fishing license to a license that is valid for one year from the date of purchase. But while this seems beneficial, when we looked at the issue thoroughly, we realized that changing to a license that is valid for one year from the date of purchase would significantly reduce funding for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

According to CDFW License Program Analyst Glenn Underwood, several other states have made the change to a license that is valid for one year from the date of purchase, and so we contacted these other states to learn from their experiences. We found states that changed from a calendar year license to a license that is valid for one year from the date of purchase experienced a reduction in license sales from 10 to 30 percent in the three years following implementation. Experts from these states explained license purchasing patterns changed when the license system changed to one year from the date of purchase licenses. Customers tended to wait until the last minute to purchase a license, as they knew it would be valid for one year from that date. Then when their licenses expired, customers again waited to renew until they fished again, creating a gap in licensure. After a few years the sum of the gaps was often greater than a year and a complete license sale was lost.

Changing to a license that is valid for one year from the date of purchase would also reduce federal grant funding. Each state in the country receives federal grant money from the Sport Fish Restoration Act (SFRA) which is funding generated from federal excise tax on sales of sport fishing tackle and motorboat fuels. This program funds critical fish habitat restoration projects throughout the state, providing increased fishing opportunities for California anglers. A tiered system is used to allocate grants to the states. In 2014, California received the maximum grant of $16,287,011, which is five percent of the total available to all the states. Federal SFRA grant amounts are based partially on the number of licenses issued in each state. If California license sales declined by as little as three percent, California’s grant would be reduced to a lower tier and the grant amount would be reduced by approximately $2.7 million to $4.5 million, further reducing CDFW’s ability to manage and protect California’s fisheries.

So, while we realize your license restructuring suggestion is popular, it would create a significant reduction in license revenue and sport fish grant funding for CDFW. The resulting reduction in revenue and grant funding would reduce the CDFW’s ability to manage and protect California’s fisheries; and it would reduce the number of fish CDFW could plant for California anglers.


Live turkey decoys?
Question: Is it legal to use a live turkey as a decoy? I can’t find any regulations on live turkey decoys (Todd W.)

Answer: No. The use of live decoys is prohibited when attempting to take resident game birds (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 311(l)).


What’s acceptable abalone diving gear?
Question: Regarding equipment that is permissible for abalone harvesting, is a buoyancy compensator (BC) with integrated weight system ok to use for diving for abalone as long as there is NO air tank attached? (John D.)

Answer: Yes, a BC is for your safety and is OK to use as long as no scuba or air supply of any kind is incorporated.


Free diving for sea urchins?
Question: As a free diver, am I legally allowed to harvest sea urchins? If so, do I need a permit? Also, where in San Diego County can I legally dive from shore for sea urchins? (Derek G.)

Answer: Sea urchins are legal to take in California with a sport fishing license. The season is open year-round for all species of urchin and the limit is 35 urchins (CCR Title 14, section 29.05). These regulations can be found in the Ocean Sport Fishing regulation booklet, along with coordinates and regulation summaries for marine protected areas in Southern California that are closed to the take of sea urchins.

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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.

Wildlife Feeders to Attract Turkeys?

Spring turkey (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Spring turkey (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: A buddy of mine has a feeder on his ranch that he loads up with feed to attract turkeys to his property. He intends to hunt them once the season opens. I told him this was illegal baiting but he said he would pull the feed out before hunting the area. What do you think? Is this really legal? (Anonymous)

Answer: No. It is illegal to harass any game or nongame bird unless authorized by a regulation or the Fish and Game Code (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 251.1). Under this section, “harass” is defined as an intentional act which disrupts an animal’s normal behavior patterns, which includes, but it is not limited to, breeding, feeding and sheltering. Consequently, if your friend’s feeder disrupts the normal behavior pattern of the turkeys, it would be a violation of the law to feed the turkeys even if he/she pulls the feeder out before hunting the area. Also, please note that a person may not take resident game birds, such as turkeys, within 400 yards of any baited area unless an exception in CCR Title 14, section 257.5, has been met.


Legal sturgeon in tow?
Question: While out sturgeon fishing, we noticed a smaller boat with a legal sturgeon in tow. The rope was double hitched and wrapped around the fish just behind the gills. As ropes and snares are now illegal, where does this technique fall into the rules?  (Bill A.)

Answer: If the “double hitch” you saw was a flexible loop made from any material that can be tightened like a noose around any part of the fish, then what you saw was not legal (CCR Title 14, section 5.80(d) and 5.81(a)). The no-snare regulation is to reduce harm to sturgeon. Oversized white sturgeon and all green sturgeon may not be removed from the water and shall be released immediately (CCR Title 14, section 5.80(c) and (e) and 5.81(b)). Legal-sized white sturgeon that anglers choose to release must be released immediately without taking them out of the water

If the person in possession of the fish you saw had not recorded the fish on a Sturgeon Fishing Report Card, it was also illegal under CCR Title 14, section 5.80(f). The tagging requirement is to prevent waste of white sturgeon through “high grading” (releasing a smaller fish when a larger one is caught) as well as to enforce the daily and annual bag limits.

If you see something like this again, I recommend calling the 24-hour Californians Turn in Poachers and Polluters (CalTIP) hotline at (888) 334-2258. Tipsters also can text anonymous information, including photographs, to CalTIP via “tip411” (numerically, 847411). Wildlife officers can respond directly, resulting in an anonymous two-way conversation. Users must start the text message with the word “Caltip”. Phone number line, type: 847411, message line, type: Caltip (followed by the message/tip).


Diving and crabbing at the same time?
Question: I live in Monterey County and freedive/spearfish in the approved areas frequently. I see crab while I’m down on the bottom and have decided maybe I’d like to try and grab a few. I’ve read through the rules and regs and think I have a pretty good idea of what’s expected of me. Would it be possible (and legal) for me to purchase a crab trap, place it out before my spearing, then go dive for a few hours and return to collect it once I’m done diving? It would all be done in one trip and from a kayak. Just a thought. For now I’m just going to get a measuring devise and try my luck by hand.

Answer: Yes, if you are north of Point Argulello (Santa Barbara County), you may legally set traps for crabs and have them fishing while you’re diving. Then after you have finished diving, you may return to collect crabs from the trap. You cannot service traps while still diving because while diving for crustaceans, you are restricted to taking crabs only by hand (CCR Title 14, section 29.80(g)). Note that for hoop nets, the limit between setting and pulling is two hours.


Passengers netting fish?
Question: Can a person net fish for others without having their own California Sport Fishing License?  (Pete)

Answer: Yes, as long as you are referring to using a “landing net” to net another angler’s fish that is unable to use the landing net them self for some obvious reason, then it’s ok. Assisting someone with the use of a landing net in this way would not require a license, but using other types of nets, such as gill nets, seines, dip nets for catching baitfish in the ocean would require a license.

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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.