Category Archives: Licensing/Permits/Stamps/Report Cards

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.

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.

Mentoring New Generations of Hunters

Family waterfowl hunting at the Yolo Wildlife Area Basin

Family waterfowl hunting at the Yolo Wildlife Area Basin

Question: I just took my first Hunter Education Class last week at the age of almost 60. I am interested to put my training into practice and bring my kids and grandkids into it as well. What is a good plan to begin hunting that can include all of us, since I have never had anyone to teach me how to start? (Ken B., Palo Alto)

Answer: First of all, welcome to the exciting comradery of California hunters. We can recommend several options. First, put your new Hunter Education Certificate to use right away by purchasing your hunting license and tags/tag applications. The Big Game Drawing online application deadline for elk, antelope, bighorn sheep, and premium deer tags is midnight June 2, 2016.

We encourage you to go through the application process together. It will introduce all of you to navigating the online system and may also prompt an interest in other big game hunting opportunities, such as apprentice hunts. If your grandkids are junior hunters, ages 12-17 years old on July 1 of the license year, these apprentice hunts are an excellent option for most big game.

Every hunter who annually applies for draw hunts anxiously awaits the results from the draw. Then, if successful, they can enjoy the experience of spending scout time leading up to the hunt planning for their adventure. The planning stage is an important part of the hunt you can all do together. Don’t forget, an integral part of the hunt is sighting in your firearm or bow at the range, another activity you can do together.

Draw hunts are not your only options — wild pig tags and some deer tags are simply available for purchase. Wild pig hunting is a good introduction to big game hunting and require a tag to hunt them. However, the season is open year-round and there is no daily bag limit.

Consider hiring a licensed hunting guide. It may cost you some extra money, but guided hunts frequently give you access to private properties with higher density game populations. Guides should have expertise for the species and the area you are hunting. Soak up everything the guide is willing to teach you. If you or your kids are successful, most guides will offer to field dress the animal for you. We strongly recommend having your guide teach you how to field dress the animal and do it yourself.

CDFW also offers Advanced Hunting Clinics that focus on the “how-tos” of hunting, including how to hunt turkey, upland game, waterfowl and big game. Each clinic covers types of firearms, ammunition, importance of sighting in the firearm, gauging distance, scouting, tracking, field dressing, shoot-don’t shoot scenarios, hunter ethics, landowner-hunter relationships, conservation, and safety. The goal of this series is to develop ethical, conservation-minded, successful hunters through education … taking the hunter a step beyond the basic hunter education course.

Throughout the year, CDFW Special Hunts are also offered and designed especially for new hunters, youth hunters, women hunters, mobility-impaired hunters and people with limited experience or opportunity to hunt on their own. Depending on the time of year, hunts for upland game birds (pheasant, quail, chuckar and turkey) and, upon occasion, waterfowl, deer or wild pig may be offered.


What info must be on a sports crab pot buoy?
Question: What information is required to be displayed on sports crab pot buoys? I have placed my CF numbers from my boat on mine but have read that I must also place my GO ID numbers on the buoys. Can you please let me know what’s required for my buoys? Also, what are all of the necessary requirements for my crab pots to make them legal? (Ken H.)

Answer: No identification is currently required to be placed on the buoys of sport crab traps. However, beginning Aug. 1, 2016, a crab trap buoy must be legally marked with the operator’s GO ID number as stated on his/her sport fishing license.

Keep in mind that crab traps are only allowed in waters north of Point Arguello (Santa Barbara County), and are required to have at least two rigid circular openings of not less than four and one-quarter inches inside diameter, constructed so that the lowest portion of each opening is no lower than five inches from the top of the trap. Starting Aug. 1, 2016, crab traps must contain at least one destruct device of a single strand of untreated cotton twine size No. 120 or less that creates an unobstructed escape opening in the top or upper half of the trap of at least five inches in diameter when the destruct attachment material corrodes or fails (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.80(C)(1-3)).


Compound bow for protection?
Question: This question goes back to the special junior turkey archery hunts available prior to the start of the regular spring turkey season. I accompanied my son on one of those hunts. I was concerned about our safety because there are bears and mountain lions where we would be hunting, as well as mountain lions basically everywhere in California. If I had had my hunting license, could I have had my compound bow on me for safety? I ask because I know you cannot have a firearm on you during archery-only seasons (I don’t have a firearm anyway), so could I have had my bow on me during the junior-only hunt? (David R., Sunnyvale)

Answer: You could have possessed a compound bow in this circumstance as long as you had a valid hunting license and tag for game that could be lawfully taken with a compound bow (such as wild pigs if they are present in the area) and you do not hunt turkey.

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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.

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.

Harvesting Sea Urchins before Abalone Start Time

Purple sea urchins and red abalone often occur in the same locations (CDFW photo by Athena Maguire)

Purple sea urchins and red abalone often occur in the same or similar locations but only urchins can be harvested before 8 a.m. (CDFW photo by Athena Maguire)

Question: My question is about the requirement that abalone may not be taken before 8 a.m. This year there are a few good minus tides that bottom out before 8 a.m. Is it legal to be on the abalone grounds to harvest sea urchins prior to 8 a.m., and then go abalone picking after 8 a.m.? (Paul N., San Francisco)

Answer: You can go out before 8 a.m. to harvest urchins, but you cannot take any action that will assist in your later take of abalone. For example, you may not search for abalone or mark the location of any abalone that you encounter while taking urchins. If you choose to dive before 8 a.m., don’t be surprised if you are questioned by a warden. If your activities appear to a warden to be taking or searching for abalone before 8 a.m., then you can be cited.


What to do with inedible harvested non-game animals?
Question: I know that it is illegal to waste harvested game animals, but what about non-edible, non-game animals (such as jackrabbits, rock doves, coyotes, etc.)? What are the legal/ethical guidelines on what to do with these harvested animals? Should they be buried, left in the field, trashed or something else? (Bill S., Rancho Cucamonga)

Answer: Jackrabbits are small game, and if someone is going to kill them recreationally, then they should be used. They certainly are edible and many people hunt them for consumption. There is no standard way to dispose of legally taken non-game mammals. Some non-game animals like crows require retrieval while others don’t. If they are a species that does not require retrieval, ethically, it is up to the individual. Hunters are encouraged to fully utilize all harvested wildlife. However, even if it is a non-game species where retrieval is not required by law, hunters should still make every effort to properly dispose of it. To just let animals lay where they’ve fallen without retrieval or attempts to properly dispose of them reflects badly on the image of those of us who are conscientious and ethical hunters.


Combination of sabiki rig and drop shot rig
Question: I often go sport fishing around Santa Cruz with my kayak. I would like to catch live fish with a sabiki rig with multiple hooks, then use them with a drop shot rig with two hooks to catch rockfish, cabezon, greenling, lingcod and halibut. Is this allowed? (Kota T.)

Answer: Yes, you can use a fishing rod with multiple hooks as long as you don’t take or possess a species which has a more restrictive method of take than the general gear restrictions (e.g. rockfish, cabezon, greenling, lingcod or salmon). 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. Once you begin fishing for the species that have hook restrictions, you will want to stow the sabiki rig so that it clearly is not in use.


How many turkeys per year?
Question: Can you legally harvest five birds a year by taking three bearded birds during the spring season and two birds during the fall season, or does the three bird limit apply to a full calendar year? (Pete R.)

Answer: You can legally harvest five turkeys in a year but can never possess more than three at one time. So long as you are eating your game regularly, you should not have an issue so be sure to consume or gift your spring birds before the fall season.


Hunter update email from CDFW?
Question: My friend recently received an interesting “hunter update” email directly from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) encouraging her to buy a license and go turkey hunting. Although I already have my hunting and fishing licenses, I am interested in receiving updates from CDFW. How do I get on this mailing list? (Monica B.)

Answer: The email your friend received is part of a larger effort by CDFW to increase outreach and education to California hunters and anglers. In order to receive these updates, reminders and other useful information from the department, you need to update your CDFW license profile on our website and provide us with your email address and communication preferences.

To sign-up, visit our online licenses sales page, click ‘Customer Login/Register’ then ‘Edit Customer Profile.’ If you are a new CDFW customer making your first license purchase online or from a license agent, you will be asked for your email address and communication preferences while creating your profile. Any personal information collected will never be disclosed, made available or used for any purpose other than as specified at the time it was collected, except with the written consent of the subject of the information or as otherwise permitted by law or regulation. Fish and Game Code, section 1050.6 and California Government Code, section 11015.5 prohibit CDFW from selling or sharing your information with any third party.

Purchasing your licenses, tags and report cards online is easier than ever and now comes with the added benefit of timely updates and information from CDFW.

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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.

Clamming at Pismo Beach after 40 years

Pismo clams (Tivela stultorum) in Ventura (CDFW file photo)

Pismo clams (Tivela stultorum) in Ventura (CDFW file photo)

Question: I made a promise to my son 40 years ago to take him clamming at Pismo Beach, and I want to keep that promise. How are the conditions there now and when is the best time to plan a visit? (Jim S, Big Arm, Montana)

Answer: Recent surveys at Pismo Beach indicate there are no legal sized clams there, although there has been some limited legal take of razor clams. I would really like to see you and your son have a successful trip, so there are some other locations further south where you should have luck. Rincon Beach in Santa Barbara County and La Conchita Beach in Ventura County have been producing good numbers of legal sized Pismo clams recently.

Clams that have a size limit and are not retained must be immediately reburied in the area from which dug (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.20 (d)). Clammers must do their share to help to maintain healthy populations of clams for future generations.

Clamming is generally done from November to April during minus tide events. Starting the month of May, potentially harmful plankton blooms can become an issue. The annual mussel shellfish quarantine is from May 1 to Oct. 31, and is in place to protect the public against Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning and domoic acid poisoning, also known as Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning. The May through October quarantine period encompasses more than 99 percent of all Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning illnesses and deaths reported in California since 1927. Even though mussels are a different species, I recommend taking similar precautions and would not recommend harvesting Pismo clams during the annual mussel quarantine.

Please remember that any person 16 years of age or older who is participating in clamming is required to have a valid California sport fishing license. An Ocean Enhancement Stamp is also required for ocean fishing (including clamming) south of Point Arguello (northern Santa Barbara County) except when fishing with a one-day or two-day sport fishing license. The stamp is not required if you purchase a one- or two-day sport fishing license.

For regulations specific to Pismo clams, please go to section 29.40 in the current Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet available online or wherever fishing licenses and sold. Good luck!


Abandoned lobster traps and hoop nets
Question: I am a freediver who dives for lobsters along the Southern California coast. I have concerns about abandoned hoop nets and lobster traps. I can tell that they are abandoned and have been there for a while because some are rusted and old, the rope is frayed, and they are just floating underwater with no buoys attached. Numerous times I have seen these abandoned traps with lobsters and fish that have been trapped inside for days, some alive some dead. Am I allowed to open and free those trapped animals and clean up my dive spots of these abandoned traps? What can I do about those hoop nets that have been cut off/frayed and left under water? I am planning to round up a bunch of freedivers to do an underwater clean up. (Chester L.)

Answer: As long as the trap is clearly abandoned and there is no surface gear associated with it, you can legally both release the animals and remove the traps (you may not keep any lobsters found in the traps). The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recommends and prefers that citizens and fishermen instead report the type and location of lost or abandoned fishing gear to the appropriate CDFW field office so that trained department personnel can retrieve the gear. For a list of CDFW Marine Region offices, please go to: http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regions/Marine/Contact.


If duck hasn’t built a nest yet, can I catch and eat it?
Question: Can I catch a mallard duck in my housing community, and eat it, if the duck hasn’t built a nest yet? I live in Huntington Beach. (E.J. Fudd)

Answer: No. Regardless of whether the duck is nesting, you must comply with the Fish and Game Code and all applicable local laws or ordinances. For example, you will need to have a valid hunting license, waterfowl season doesn’t open until October and to take a duck you would need to use a lawful method of take. Since you live in a housing community, firearms are likely not allowed and catching the duck by hand is not a legal method of take.


Fishing and trapping crayfish at the same time
Question: I am just wondering if while I am fishing, I can run my crayfish trap at the same time to catch crayfish. I only have one fishing permit and I don’t have a second rod stamp. I just want to make sure I don’t break any laws. (Eric L.)

Answer: Yes, there are no prohibitions against doing this as long as you can closely monitor your fishing rod the entire time.

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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.

Are Abalone Report Cards Used to Set New Quotas?

North Coast free diver measuring a red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) to be sure it's of legal size before taking (CDFW photo by Patrick Foy)

North Coast freediver measuring a legal-sized red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) before detaching and taking it to the surface (CDFW photo by Patrick Foy)

Question: I was just filing my abalone harvest report, which rather than being due the end of January like before, is now not due until April 1. While I appreciate the extra time and opportunity to still fill out my report when I go to buy new tags for the season opener, I am wondering if this means my harvest data from last year is not being used to set quotas and limits for the following season. Specifically, is the impact of the Fort Ross closure and potential rebound or the north/south split of the last few years not being accounted for? (Darren M., Folsom)

Answer: I’m afraid you are mistaken about the deadline changing. Abalone report cards are still due Jan. 31. Beginning this year our online reporting system will accept late reports because they still contain valuable information even after the Jan. 31 deadline. In the future, late reporting may result in a mandatory late fee or temporary suspension of the privilege to harvest abalone.

According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Marine Environmental Scientist Jerry Kashiwada, data from all cards returned to the Fort Bragg office are now being entered and it takes additional time beyond the deadline for that to be completed. These data are very valuable in helping us determine the effects of the current set of regulations but it will take several years to sort out the regulation effects from year to year variations. We had already been noting shifts in fishing effort to Mendocino County before the Fort Ross closure and catch reduction in Sonoma and Marin counties.

Our current management of abalone does not change from year to year in response to report card data. Instead, it is based on the density of abalone monitored by dive surveys at eight index sites. But the card data does provide valuable indications of abalone status at the many sites not covered by index site surveys. The card data helps us determine the effects of the latest regulations, while the surveys show the effects on abalone populations and will largely determine future regulatory changes.

We are currently working on a new abalone management plan and will have public meetings in the near future to discuss details of the plan. For more information, please go to http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/red-abalone-fmp.


Hunting chipmunks
Question: I was recently in a conversation about hunting chipmunks and we are curious if it’s legal to do? I do not plan on hunting them, just want to know. (Michael C.)

Answer: Chipmunks are classified as nongame mammals, which generally would mean they may not be taken. However, chipmunks may be taken because California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 472(a) authorizes take of nongame rodents except for tree and flying squirrels, rodents that are designated as furbearers, and endangered or threatened species.


Shark fin prohibition
Question: According to the shark fin regulations, skate wings cannot be possessed as they are the expanded pectoral fins of an elasmobranch. I don’t understand this because the skates are still legal to catch and the only part of a skate that is eatable as far as I know is the wing. How do I prepare the skate if it’s illegal to possess the wing? (Joel)

Answer: “Shark fins” are defined to mean the raw, dried or otherwise processed detached fin or tail of an elasmobranch (FGC, section 2021). Since skates are elasmobranchs, the law applies to detached skate wings. The shark fin law was adopted in part to conserve state resources, prevent animal cruelty by prohibiting shark fin removal of live fish and to protect wildlife and public health due to high levels of mercury in shark fins. Many people do eat the body and tail of the skate. The harvest of skates for personal consumption is permissible under current law as long as the entire animal is harvested and not just the wings. You should transport the whole skate to where you are going to prepare it for immediate consumption.


Hunting on rental property
Question: I am renting some land and would like to hunt on it. Do I need hunting permission written into the lease agreement? Do I need to carry written permission from the landowner on my person? Do I need verbal permission? Or does my renting the land give me permission to hunt? (Jennifer)

Answer: It is unlawful to enter certain lands for hunting purposes “without having first obtained written permission from the owner, the owner’s agent, or the person in lawful possession of that land” (FGC, section 2016). But as the renter of the land, you are the person in lawful possession of the land, so you are not required to carry written permission from the landowner. However, prior to hunting on the land, you should make sure there are no restrictions in your lease or rental agreement that prohibits you from hunting on the property.

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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.