Category Archives: Deer Hunting

Tracking Wounded Game with an Electronic Device?

California mule deer (CDFW photo)

California mule deer (CDFW photo)

Question: Archery season is starting and before we go out I would like to know if it’s legal to use an electronic tracking device that attaches to an arrow to help track our game. The tracking device separates from the arrow as the arrow contacts the target animal and then enables the hunter to better follow the wounded animal. Are these legal to use? Thanks for any help. (Jared T., Red Bluff)

Answer: No, unfortunately, they are not legal to use. The regulation below restricts the use of computerized or telemetry types of devices to track big game mammals. Because of this, the device you describe is not legal to use in California at this time.

“No person shall pursue, drive, herd, or take any bird or mammal from any type of motor-driven air or land vehicles, motorboat, airboat, sailboat, or snowmobile. Additionally, no person shall use 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 until 48 hours after any big game hunting season in the same area. No person shall use at any time or place, without Department approval, any computer, telemetry device or other equipment to locate a big game mammal to which a tracking device is attached.” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 251).


Recorded abalone harvest data wrong on abalone report card
Question: After abalone diving in Mendocino last weekend, I didn’t realize until too late that when I tagged my abalone I mistakenly recorded my abalone catch incorrectly on my abalone report card. I recorded them out of order in the wrong column and then used the corresponding wrong tags. This meant I skipped three of the lower numbered tags. The tags are still on the report card and corresponding recording fields on the report card are still empty. Can I go back and use those missed tags for my next trip? (Atsu I.)

Answer: No, the law requires that “Tags shall be used in sequential order, and shall not be removed from the report card until immediately prior to affixing to an abalone. Any tags detached from the report card and not affixed to an abalone shall be considered used and therefore invalid” (CCR Title 14, section 29.16(b)(4)). You are also required to write “Void” on the Abalone Report Card in the spaces you skipped and then dispose of the three corresponding tags. This is because the law also says, “…(5) No person shall possess any used or otherwise invalid abalone tags not attached to an abalone shell.”


Permit required for fishing contests?
Question: Our club would like to hold a halibut derby in San Francisco Bay and we need information on permits. When and where are they needed and what are the requirements? Do we need a permit for a halibut derby in the Bay or are permits only needed for bass fishing? (Mark S.)

Answer: Permits are not required for saltwater fishing contests. Waters of the Pacific Ocean include all of San Francisco and San Pablo Bays west of the Carquinez Bridge (CCR Title 14, section 27.00). As long as all fishing is done in waters west of the Carquinez Bridge, you will not need a fishing contest permit.

Fishing contest permits are required for various fishing contests in freshwater. For information on the requirements when holding fishing contests in inland waters, how to obtain fishing contest permits and for the actual permit application forms, please visit our Fishing Contests, Tournaments and Derbies website.


Do fishing boat passengers need fishing licenses if not fishing?
Question: As an avid fisherman on a private vessel at a slip, I often take friends out hoop netting or fishing. Often these friends are perfectly happy to operate my boat while I tend the fishing line(s) or hoop nets. Do these companions need to have a fishing license as long as we follow the bag limits and limits on nets and lines in the water for a single fisherman? It is often a spur of the moment decision to go out, and sending my guest off to get a license for one or two hours of fishing is inconvenient at best. (Jack Z.)

Answer: It is legal to take non-licensed passengers along to observe you while fishing or hoop netting as long they do not engage at all in any of the actual sport fishing activities. It is only in the commercial fishing industry where those who assist with the boat handling and other tasks need to have their own commercial fishing 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.

What’s the Best Method for Catching Octopuses?

Octopus and shrimp in reef at Anacapa Island (Photo by Derek Stein)

Octopus and shrimp in reef at Anacapa Island (Photo by Derek Stein)

Question: We have a question about catching octopus. Can octopus caught in crab traps be kept? Can sport fishermen use traps to target octopus for sushi or to use for bait? If not traps, can you recommend a better way? Also, are there any seasons, bag limits and/or size limits for octopus? (Nick W.)

Answer: No, traps may not be used to take octopus. They can be taken only by hand or hook-and-line fishing gear and no chemicals of any kind may be used to assist in taking octopus by hand. Octopus may be taken year-round, and up to 35 octopi may be taken per day or possessed at any time. Scuba diving equipment may not be used to take octopus north of Yankee Point, Monterey County (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.05). There are no size limits for octopus.


Legal to hunt with an AK-47?
Question: Is it legal to hunt with a California legal AK-47? I understand I am supposed to use soft point ammunition, but I was wondering if the rifle itself will pose legal issues when it comes to hunting. (James M.)

Answer: If your rifle is one that is legal to possess in California, it would be legal to use for hunting purposes. However, you must have legal ammunition for the area and species you plan to hunt. When hunting big game, center-fire ammunition and soft-nosed or expanding bullets are required. Nonlead projectiles are required when taking bighorn sheep or when hunting any wildlife on a state-managed Wildlife Area or Ecological Reserve.

The laws relating to assault rifles and high-capacity magazine are quite complex. The agency with the most expertise in this area is the California Department of Justice, Firearms Division (note the sections that specifically address assault weapons and high capacity magazines). You can either check their website or call their general information
line at (916) 227-7527.


Trapping Eurasian-collared doves for bird dog training?
Question: Is it legal to trap Eurasian-collared doves? I’ve purchased a bird dog pup and would like to use them for live bird training. If it is legal, do I just need my hunting license or is a trapping license needed? Also, are there any special rules about transporting them live to a field to train with? (Chris R.)

Answer: Eurasian-collared doves are resident game birds and the allowed “methods of take” can be found in the Waterfowl and Upland Game Hunting Regulations booklet under CCR Title 14, section 311 on page 26. Trapping is not an allowable method of take for game birds.


Can guests fish without a license from my private pond?
Question: I recently purchased a home with a private pond. Is it ok for my guests to fish the pond without a fishing license? (Randy N.)

Answer: A sport fishing license is not required for fishing in waters on private property by the owner or the owner’s invitee IF a number of conditions are met. First, those waters must be wholly enclosed by that owner’s real property, and the waters not have a hydrological connection to any permanent or intermittent waterway of the State. Also, an invitee shall not have compensated the owner for such a fishing privilege, nor shall the fish be taken for profit. Otherwise, your guests need fishing licenses. Seasons, bag limits and other California angling regulations apply to all waters on private lands in California, except for the ponds of Registered Aquaculturists.


Sell a moose mount?
Question: Can a person sell a moose mount? I don’t see anything in code or title but thought you may know. (Yvette A. )

Answer: California law does not prohibit the sale of a moose mount because moose are not found in the wild in California. Fish and Game Code, section 3039(a) states, “It is unlawful to sell or purchase a bird or mammal found in the wild in California.”

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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.

Hunting with an Airbow?

Benjamin Pioneer Airbow (www.crossman.com photo)

Benjamin Pioneer Airbow (www.crossman.com photo)

Question: I’ve been learning about the Benjamin Pioneer Airbow and am curious about the legal status of using these for hunting. It seems to be the functional equivalent of a crossbow and so I would think they would be appropriate for general big game seasons where archery is a legal method of take. Does the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) have a position on this innovative hunting tool? (Gregory Z.)

Answer: Airbows are essentially airguns that shoot arrows. They are not firearms nor are they (by definition) bows or crossbows (see California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 354). Game mammals and birds may only be taken by the methods listed in CCR Title 14, sections 311, 507 and 354. While firearms, bows and crossbows are all allowable methods of take, the airbow does not fall under any of these definitions, and thus may not be used to take wildlife in California.


Chumming for Pacific halibut?
Question: Is it legal to fish for Pacific halibut using a chum bag? The bag would be independent with no hooks, just a bag of bait on the ocean floor. (Dan R.)

Answer: Yes, chumming is legal in the Ocean and San Francisco Bay District (see CCR Title 14, sections 1.32 and 27.05.). Please be aware that Pacific halibut is managed as a quota fishery and will close once the annual quota is reached. Before engaging in fishing activity, please check our Pacific halibut website for weekly tracking of harvest while the season is open or current closure notifications or call one of the hotlines listed at this site.


License required for frogs, bugs and other insects?
Question: I know I need a license to catch fish, but I was wondering if I need a license to catch dragonfly nymphs, snails or any other kind of water bugs as long as they are not a fish. Do I need a license to catch frogs and tadpoles? I’m going to take my kids to a river and help them explore and I know I’m going to have to help them catch the small water critters. (Pedro A.)

Answer: Thank you for taking the time to ask about the regulations before taking your kids out. Here are the basics: A sport fishing license is required for individuals 16 years of age or older who wish to take fish, amphibians, mollusks, crustaceans, invertebrates or reptiles in California (freshwater or ocean waters).

Remember that tadpoles are baby frogs, and only the amphibians listed in CCR Title 14, section 5.05 may be taken. While technically it is legal to catch (and collect) certain tadpoles under a fishing license, you have to know how to ID them so you don’t accidentally collect a species that is not on the list. The species not in section 5.05 are endangered or threatened species, or species of special concern, and their possession is illegal without a special permit. Also, if you and your kids want to collect and rear the tadpoles to frogs, be aware they must be kept for life or given away because it’s illegal to release them back into the wild after being taken into captivity.

If you are going to actively catch frogs, tadpoles, etc. (amphibians) with your kids, you should first have a fishing license. If the kids do all of the work themselves and they’re under 16, they don’t need a license.

This information is contained in the current Freshwater Fishing Regulation booklet beginning on page 5 which can be found online or at any CDFW license office, bait shops, sporting goods stores or other places where fishing licenses are sold.


Importing mount of a species prohibited to hunt in California?
Question: Is it legal to own a mount of a wild animal that is illegal to hunt in California, but legal in another state? The critter is a sandhill crane that is illegal to hunt in California, but was legally bagged in another state (some 15 states consider these game animals, but not here). Can I bring this mount into California and publicly display it? (James S.)

Answer: Yes, but you should keep all documentation of where it came from and/or hunting licenses with it in case the origin of the mount ever comes into question.

Fish and Game Code, section 2353, requires that you declare the entry into California of any legally taken birds, mammals, fish, reptiles or amphibians. The Declaration for Entry form requires you to put down information such as a hunting license number, game tag number, etc. and indicate the county and state in which the animal was killed. With the exception of animals like a mountain lion or mountain lion mount that cannot be legally imported, you are allowed to import legally acquired wild animals or wild animal mounts and should have documentation of where and how they were acquired as some states allow the sale of wildlife and wildlife mounts, too.

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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.

Archery with Lighted Arrow Nocks

Archery pro, Keli Van Cleave

There are no prohibitions against using lighted nocks so long as they don’t emit a directional beam of light. (Archery Pro Keli Van Cleave)

Question: We are bow hunters and are wondering if there are any regulations against using lighted arrow nocks? They turn on when shot from your bow and stay on until you turn them off. They operate by a small lithium battery and will stay on for many hours if needed. The light makes it easier to follow the path of the arrow once released and will stay on until retrieved from the animal or wherever it ends up. (Joe G., Grass Valley)

Answer: There are no prohibitions against using lighted nocks so long as they don’t emit a directional beam of light. “Notwithstanding the general prohibition of the use of lights in Fish and Game Code section 2005, arrows or crossbow bolts with lighted nocks that do not emit a directional beam of light may be used” (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 354(d)). A nock is the slotted portion at the back of the arrow that sits against the bow string and holds the arrow in place until the archer is released.


Fishing with multiple rods in Tomales Bay
Question: In ocean and/or bays, such as Tomales Bay by Lawson’s Landing, is a second rod stamp required? Is a second rod stamp required to catch California halibut with multiple rods in Tomales Bay? (John C., Roseville)

Answer: A second rod stamp is not required to fish with multiple rods in Tomales Bay. A second rod stamp only applies to inland waters defined under CCR Title 14, section 1.53. Restrictions on gear in the ocean pertain to certain areas such as San Francisco Bay and certain species such as groundfish and salmon.


Legal to mount waterfowl to give away?
Question: I was given a few ducks and geese by a hunter in Fresno. These ducks have tags and the hunter provided me with an affidavit stating they were gifted. I don’t have time to mount these anymore. Can I give them away for free since I don’t have a federal permit? Also, I have a few ducks that I mounted for myself but would now like to part with them. Can I give them away for free as well? (Christina T.)

Answer: Yes. And for the gifted ducks and geese, once you are ready to give them away to someone else, you will also need to pass along any paperwork you received with them to the person you are passing the ducks and geese along to (Code of Federal Regulations Title 50, Part 20, sections 20.36-20.40).


How to check a fishing guide has all licenses and insurance?
Question: I’m thinking of hiring a fishing guide for a trip. How can I check to make sure he has all the necessary licenses and insurance? (Barry N.)

Answer: To see if the guide is licensed and in good standing through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), please go to http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/guide and click on the licensed hunting and fishing guides link. This will provide you with the names of individuals with a valid California Fishing Guide license. The license authorizes them to guide their fishing clients for money or compensation, but will not confirm that they carry insurance or any other credentials. Your best bet will be to ask around about their reputations at a local fishing or sporting goods store or get a referral from past clients. You should also ask the prospective guide to show you proof that they carry insurance and/or any other credentials.


Hoop netting with winch
Question: I have a simple question about recreational hoop netting. Can I use an electrical device like an “Ace Hauler” to aid in the retrieval of my hoop nets? It uses an electrical motor to aid in the work. You just wrap the rope around the wheel and pull. The motor does most of the work. If this is legal, are there any restrictions on the use of such a device? (Karl P.)

Answer: There are no regulations prohibiting the use of manual winches by sportfishers to assist in pulling crab traps or hoop nets. Use of power-driven winches is prohibited north of Point Arguello, but there is an exception for handling crab traps or nets (see CCR Title 14, section 28.70).

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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.

Shooting Deer Across a Lake?

Photo credit: USFWS

Photo credit: USFWS

Question: Is it legal to shoot my rifle across open water to the other side? Say I am on one side of a lake and see a legal deer on the other side (let’s assume it’s 200 yards, not a good long range shot). Can I shoot across the lake or pond or river? (Larry E.)

Answer: It is never advisable to shoot over water due to the potential for a ricochet. However, it is not illegal under the Fish and Game Code and its implementing regulations as long as both you and the deer are on property where it is legal to hunt and you have permission to hunt the area. Keep in mind though that while shooting deer across a lake may not violate state regulations, there may still be other federal laws or local ordinances that could make this illegal. Be sure to check with local authorities first to ensure no other regulations legally prohibit this practice.


Sport fishing from a commercial boat?
Question: I have a friend with a commercial urchin boat who invited me to come out with him. Would it be legal for me to fish off the boat and to maybe even dive and do some spearfishing from the boat? I would stick to fish and not take any urchin while down diving. (Anonymous)

Answer: No. Under Fish and Game Code, section 7856(f): “A person shall not take or possess a fish on a commercial fishing vessel under a sport fishing license while that vessel is engaged in a commercial fishing activity, including going to or from an area where fish are taken for commercial purposes.”

Commercial boat captains may take friends and family out to fish from their boats when they are NOT engaged in commercial fishing. All commercially caught fish or invertebrates must be off the boat before the boat leaves the harbor for a trip where the captain and passengers will be engaged in sport angling, diving, hoop netting or setting traps for crabs. They must commit to one or the other type of trip ahead of time.


Oh deer, oh road kill
Question: I hit a deer while driving a few nights ago. The dang thing jumped right out in front of my car at the last minute while I was only going 35 mph. It lived but it got me wondering whether I could have legally taken it home. If I field dress a freshly killed deer that’s been accidentally hit by a car, and even if I don’t have a deer tag, I don’t see why I could not take it. Otherwise, it would just rot on the side of the road and go to waste. I’m not a road-kill eater, but if I killed a deer by accident, I wouldn’t mind taking it home and eating it and keeping the skin. (Anonymous)

Answer: Unfortunately, this would not be legal. Road-killed wildlife may not be retained. Only authorized personnel of state and/or local agencies are permitted to dispatch and remove injured or dead animals.

Even if you were a licensed California hunter with the appropriate tags to take the deer, you cannot legally tag that deer and take it home. Deer may only be taken with rifles, shotguns, pistols and revolvers, muzzleloaders and archery equipment. Motor vehicles are not included in this list of legal methods of take.

Although FGC, section 2000.5(a), states the accidental taking of game by a motor vehicle is not a violation of the law, it does not authorize the possession of animals taken by a collision with a vehicle. You may wonder why this is the case since it seems like it would be a waste of a deer to not be able to place a tag on it and perhaps save another from being taken. The reason is that some poachers would use the “collision” excuse to take deer at night with their vehicle and just attach their tag to justify the action.


Using two rods to reach bag limit?
Question: If I am using a two-rod stamp and I have four fish in my bag (daily bag limit is five fish), can I still use two rods or do I have to only fish with one rod as I only need one more fish to reach my limit? (Kyle M.)

Answer: You may continue using two rods in the scenario you describe but once you catch the last fish in your limit, you must immediately pull in the other rod.


Stocking my home aquarium?
Question: Is it legal to take any marine life or rocks from the California coastline for use in an in-home aquarium? (James H.)

Answer: Finfish may not be transported alive from the water where taken except under the authority of a scientific collecting permit or a marine aquaria collector’s permit. The removal of live rocks (rocks with living marine organisms attached) is also prohibited in some areas, including marine sanctuaries and state parks.

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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.

Crabbing from Shore with a Launcher?

California crab fishermen who is fishing with a crab snare. (Creative Commons photo)

California crab fishermen who is fishing with a crab snare. Crab loop traps (crab snares) may have up to six loops. (Creative Commons photo)

Question: While crabbing from shore with a rod/reel/crab snare, I was not having any luck. I noticed a guy on a paddle board with a crab trap just past my maximum casting distance, and he was catching crabs no problem. Would it be legal to launch a crab snare, attached to the line of a rod and reel, with a catapult, trebuchet, water balloon launcher or similar device? If only I could get it out 10 more feet or so I feel I would have better success. (Ivan M., San Francisco)

Crab loop trap or crab snare (Creative Commons photo)

Crab loop trap or crab snare (Creative Commons photo)

Answer: There are no Fish and Game regulations that prohibit the use of a device to send your terminal gear out to locations beyond where you can cast. However, you might want to check local (city, county, state beach, etc.) ordinances for the beaches where you will be crabbing prior to using one of these devices. Some people use kites or remote controlled boats for this purpose.


Can retired peace officers countersign a deer tag?
Question: I was reviewing the persons authorized to countersign a deer tag recently and was wondering if you could clarify whether peace officers (salaried and non-salaried) are authorized? If so, can retired peace officers also sign off another person’s deer tag? I have been told yes and no by two different wardens. (Mike D., Salinas)

Answer: Retired officers are not authorized to countersign deer tags. The only people authorized to countersign deer tags are those people listed under California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 708.6., which include:

(A) State:
1. Fish and Game Commissioners
2. Employees of the Department of Fish and Game, including Certified
Hunter Education Instructors
3. Employees of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
4. Supervising Plant Quarantine Inspectors
5. Junior, Intermediate and Senior Plant Quarantine Inspectors

(B) Federal:
1. Employees of the Bureau of Land Management
2. Employees of the United States Forest Service
3. Employees of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service
4. All Uniformed Personnel of the National Park Service
5. Commanding Officers of any United States military installation or their
designated personnel for deer taken on their reservation
6. Postmasters and Post Office Station or Branch Manager for deer brought
to their post office

(C) Miscellaneous:
1. County firemen at and above the class of foreman for deer brought into
their station
2. Judges or Justices of all state and United States courts
3. Notaries Public
4. Peace Officers (salaried and non-salaried)
5. Officers authorized to administer oaths
6. Owners, corporate officers, managers or operators of lockers or cold
storage plants for deer brought to their place of business


Question on abalone start time
Question: I know that the start time for abalone diving is now 8 a.m. If it takes me 15 minutes to swim out to the spot I want to start diving for abs, can I enter the water at 7:45 a.m. and not make my first dive until 8 a.m., or does the law mean that there is no entry into the water at all until 8 a.m.? Thanks, (Don C.)

Answer: Abalone may be taken only from 8 a.m. to one-half hour after sunset (CCR Title 14, section 29.15(b)(2)). Although “take” includes the pursuit of abalone, as long as you are just swimming on the surface out to your dive spot and don’t begin your actual searching or diving down for these mollusks until 8 a.m., you would not violate the start time.


What determines wanton waste of fish?
Question: What would be considered deterioration or waste of fish? I understand that leaving them on the shoreline or in a garbage can would be waste, but would it also apply to using the whole fish as fertilizer or something like that? (Zach T.)

Answer: Anglers are expected to make reasonable efforts to retrieve and utilize any fish taken. It is unlawful to cause or permit any deterioration or waste of any fish taken in the waters of this state (CCR Title 14, section 1.87). Although most fish taken under the authority of sport fishing licenses are utilized for human consumption, the regulation does not prescribe how fish are to be used.

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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.

Laser Sights for Bowfishing?

Bowfishing (Creative Commons photo)

Bowfishing (Creative Commons photo)

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.