Freezing Fish Onboard My Second Home?

Private boat

Even if your boat is your second home, the law allows the take and possession of only one daily bag limit, unless otherwise authorized (Photo by Carrie Wilson).

Question: I do a lot of offshore fishing between Catalina and the Mexico border. After fishing and catching we spend a couple of days in Avalon or San Diego. Since my boat is my second home, is it legal to then filet my fish and freeze it on board my boat? Also, does the same rule apply to yellow fin tuna as to bluefin tuna? (Mike K.)

Answer: It doesn’t matter that your boat is your second home. The law says, “No more than one daily bag limit of each kind of fish … may be taken or possessed by any one person unless otherwise authorized” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.17).

For all of the rules on filleting fish on a vessel and a list of which fish may and may not be filleted aboard a vessel, please view section 27.65 on pages 34-35 in the 2016-2017 Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.

Regarding your questions on filleting and freezing yellow fin and bluefin tunas, CCR Title 14, section 27.65(b)(11) states, “For all species of tuna filleted on any boat or brought ashore as fillets south of a line running due west true from Point Conception, Santa Barbara County (34o27’ N. lat.) each fish must be individually bagged as follows:

A. The bag must be marked with the species’ common name.
B. The fish must be cut into six pieces with all skin attached. These pieces are the four loins, the collar removed as one piece with both pectoral fins attached and intact, and the belly fillet cut to include the vent and with both pelvic fins attached and intact.”

Tunas may be kept whole or in a manner that retains these identifying characteristics.


Pet shop fish for bait?
Question: Is it legal to use rosy red minnows from the pet shop for fishing? I have heard of bait shops selling them mainly out of California. I have also heard they are a mutation and don’t breed so they shouldn’t pose a problem. (Kev H.)

Answer: It is not legal to use aquarium or pet store fish for bait purposes, and they may not be planted in any waters of the state (CCR Title 14, section 227). However, rosy red minnows (a color variant of the fathead minnow) sold by a business with a live freshwater bait fish license issued by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) are legal to use in some parts of the state. Baitfish regulations vary by district. To see if you can use fathead minnows in the place you intend to fish, you should review sections 4.10 to 4.30 on page 17 of the 2016-2017 Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.


Hammerless muzzleloader?
Question: I am interested in getting into muzzleloading and recently I came across a hammerless muzzleloader that is being offered by Vortex. My question is whether a hammerless muzzleloader is legal to use for hunting in California? (Chris A.)

Answer: Legal muzzleloaders are defined in CCR Title 14, section 353(c) and are described as “wheellock, matchlock, flintlock or percussion type, including in-line” muzzleloading rifles using black powder or equivalent black powder substitute, including pellets, with a single projectile loaded from the muzzle and at least .40 caliber in designation. With a muzzleloader tag, only open or peep sights are legal 353(h). Whether the muzzleloader has a hammer is irrelevant as long as it falls within the definition above. The Vortex rifle is an “in line” muzzleloading rifle.


Finding info on ocean bottom characteristics and habitats?
Question: Please provide me with a list of central and Southern California beaches that have the sandiest ocean bottoms and the least amount of rock formations. Additionally, if you are able, can you also include a list that has both the sandiest ocean bottoms and least amount of sea kelp? (Kevin R., California Sport Fisherman)

Answer: Yes. There are two resources available that you may want to check for this information.

  • CDFW Fishing Guide. The guide is available in mobile and desktop versions. Both have the same data included. You will find common areas for shore fishing with descriptions of target species and some habitats.
  • CDFW MarineBIOS application. This site includes habitat maps that will be helpful in exploring the sites with the most sand and the least amount of kelp. Start by zooming into your area of interest. Then, in the “layers” section under the “Habitats” group, you will find map layers for shore types, predicted substrate and kelp canopy. Turn on those layers by checking the box next to the descriptions. You can view a legend for each layer by expanding the description using the plus or arrow symbol. Detailed directions for interacting with the map can be found in the “help” section at the top right of the page.
  • Google Earth. This amazing resource also offers bathymetry seafloor mapping data of nearshore bottom substrate for most areas.

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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.

Can Sport-Caught Fish Be Donated to a Food Bank?

Sport-caught fish can be donated to a food bank or soup kitchen as long as they were legally taken, don’t exceed the angler’s bag limit and as long as the food bank or soup kitchen will accept them. Be sure to check with them first! (CDFG photo)

Sport-caught fish can be donated to a food bank or soup kitchen as long as they were legally taken, don’t exceed the angler’s bag limit and as long as the food bank or soup kitchen will accept them. Be sure to check with them first! (CDFG photo)

Question: We often take folks out fishing while they are visiting the area and staying at hotels, bed-and-breakfasts or campsites. Unfortunately, they are often not able to consume all of the fish that they catch. We understand we are allowed to gift fish to friends and family members (as long as each individual does not possess more than one bag limit per person per day).

Are there restrictions on gifting extra fish to local food banks or soup kitchens as long as the food bank would want and accept them? This is a question from a traveler who is interested in planning a future trip. (Jenny O., Santa Cruz)

Answer: Yes, a person is allowed to donate (gift) any fish taken to a food bank or soup kitchen that does not charge money for the fish as long as the fish were legally taken and the daily bag limit was not exceeded. Since every person is only allowed to take or possess one daily bag limit of fish per day, anglers should individually donate their fish to avoid having someone transport more than a possession limit of fish at any time. Since many food banks and soup kitchens no longer accept donations of meat or fish that is not USDA-certified, you may want to check with them in advance.


Airguns and Upland Game Hunting?
Question: My buddy and I are part of the ever increasing population of airgun hunters. We typically take rabbits and ground squirrels, but would like to use these .22 caliber precharged pneumatics for turkey and other upland game, such as quail and dove. While we believe the regulations cover the turkey hunting explicitly, can you confirm if it is also legal to take dove and quail with these firearms? (Jason C., Windsor)

Answer: Resident small game (as listed in California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 257) may be taken with an air rifle firing pellets and powered by compressed air or gas. This includes: wild turkey (must use at least 0.177 caliber or larger), Eurasian collared doves, quail, non-protected squirrels, jack rabbits and cottontails, in addition to the other resident small game species defined in section 257.

Western mourning dove, white-winged dove and band-tailed pigeons are listed as migratory game birds and may not be taken with an air rifle.


Continue diving for fish after abalone limit reached?
Question: Just a quick question now that abalone season is upon us. I took up spearfishing last season and really enjoy it. I know the regulations state that once you reach your limit on abalone you must immediately stop diving. Does this mean stop diving altogether or just for abalone? I guess the question I am asking is can I continue to dive and spearfish after I get my limit of abalone? (Tom R.)

Answer: It is legal to spearfish after harvesting abalone. Abalone divers may take up to three abalone per day, and no more than three abalone may be possessed at any time. Nothing in the regulations requires you to exit the water after harvesting a limit of abalone. However, individuals “taking abalone shall stop detaching abalone when the limit of three is reached” (CCR Title 14, section 29.15(c)). This section also requires abalone divers to retain all legal-sized abalone they detach until they reach the limit.


Crayfish for bait?
Question: I was wondering if you can use crayfish as bait when fishing for freshwater fish, such as bass? (Jerry Y.)

Answer: Generally, crayfish may be used for bait statewide, with some exceptions (see CCR Title 14, sections 4.00 and 5.35). Even though crayfish are allowed as bait for bass fishing in most areas of California, if the crayfish were not caught and used in the same waters from where taken, many lakes prohibit anglers entering lakes with live bait. This is due to the potential for the introduction of exotic species, such as quagga and zebra mussels. There is no way to certify the bait and water holding the bait are free from these species. If you plan on using crayfish brought into a lake, it is important to check ahead of time with the operator of the lake to see if they allow importation of legally acquired bait.


Underwater camera to find trout?
Question: Is it legal to use an underwater camera to look for trout that may be hiding underneath the creek/river bank? Does it matter if it’s used while engaged in the actual activity of trout fishing or when not in possession of a fishing pole? (Jim B., Elk Grove)

Answer: An electronic viewing device, such as an underwater camera, would be legal but a non-electronic viewing device (such as goggles, scuba mask, etc.), would be prohibited for taking fish (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 2.09). There’s an exception, though, under the provisions of spearfishing (CCR Title 14, section 2.30).

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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.

 

Fishing for Rockfish and Salmon with Mixed Tackle

Ocean salmon angler (CDFW photo)

Ocean salmon angler (CDFW photo)

Question: I fish out of Port San Luis. When fishing for salmon in a private boat, as long as I am trolling with barbless hooks, am I allowed to have barbed hooks in my boat? I am asking because we would like to troll for salmon in the morning and rockfish in the afternoon. Last year we didn’t know what to do so we fished with salmon gear in the morning, then came back in and swapped for our rockfishing gear. That extra trip cost us two hours of travel time and a lot of extra fuel. When asking around I heard from one guy that I was not allowed to have barbed hooks in the boat while salmon fishing, but then another guy said it was ok to have barbed hooks in the boat as long as I was trolling barbless hooks. What’s the correct answer? (Carl R.)

Answer: You can have the two types of gear on the boat, but since you’re fishing north of Point Conception, once you begin fishing for salmon or have salmon on board, you can troll using only one line with up to two single-shank, barbless hooks regardless of what you’re fishing for (California Code of Regulations Title14, section 27.80(a)(2)).

You did mention that you’re usually trolling, but if you’re mooching for salmon using bait and not trolling, you’re allowed to use only barbless circle hooks between Point Conception and Horse Mountain.

For complete salmon fishing regulations, please visit our ocean salmon website. For a summary of the recreational groundfish (including rockfish) fishing regulations for 2016, please check our regulation summary tables online. Complete sport fishing regulations are also available online. Regulation booklets are available on this website for download; paper copies are also available at your local California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) office and wherever sport fishing licenses are sold.


Rather than casting, a remote control boat to take lure out?
Question: Can I use a remote control boat to drop my lure farther out than casting and then bring the remote control boat back to shore while waiting for a bite? The lure is connected to a fishing pole through 50 lb. test braided line. The remote control boat will not be used to assist in pulling the fish out of the water. The lure and the sinker will be lifted off the water while the boat is moving farther off the shore. Once the distance is far enough, then the lure and the sinker will be released and the remote control boat will head back to the shore for battery charging. Is this operation legal? (Lawrence C.)

Answer: Yes. There’s nothing in the Fish and Game Code or Title 14 regulations prohibiting the use of a remotely controlled boat to get your terminal gear out to locations beyond where you can cast. Some people also use kites for this purpose.


Selling a Canadian mounted full size bear?
Question: I purchased a full size mounted black bear from a machine shop owner in 1996. The machinist told me he bought the bear from a store in Canada in 1982 and brought it back to California for display in his shop. He didn’t provide me with any kind of paperwork confirming this. I just bought it by chance when I saw it in his office while having some metal parts fabricated for a job.

I know it’s illegal to kill game in California and sell it for profit, but is it also illegal for me to sell the bear I have that isn’t even from California? I’ve had the bear for about 20 years and now it’s time to pass it to someone else to appreciate. Do you have any advice? The last thing I want to do is unknowingly break a state law and get arrested. (Steve H., Long Beach)

Answer: It is unlawful to sell, buy or possess for sale the meat, skin, hide, teeth, claws or other parts of any bear in this state (FGC, section 4758). Unfortunately, this section applies to all bears, including those lawfully taken out of the state, and this is one of the few violations in the code that may be punished as a felony. In addition, FGC, section 3039 prohibits selling or purchasing any part of a bird or mammal found in the wild in California, and this includes taxidermy mounts. However, for purposes of passing it to someone else to appreciate, you can give your mount away. Your best bet might be to contact a museum, school or service club to see if they might want it.

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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 Tag Large Trophy Trout?

Rainbow Trout _RB097

CDFW’s Eastern Sierras hatcheries, especially Fish Springs, have been placing floy tags on broodstock, or super catchable, fish to inform the public that CDFW is stocking larger fish than the usual two-to-four-pound fish. (CDFW photo)

Question: A friend caught a tagged fish in Deadman’s Creek near Glass Creek in Mono County. The tag was on the top fin of the fish, orange in color, about one inch long and slightly thinner than a spaghetti noodle with black printing on it. The message on the tag read: “CA DFW TROPHY – DO NOT REPORT.” What exactly does this mean? (Paul and Gloria W.)

Answer: This was likely a derby fish from Crowley Lake that migrated upstream. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Fisheries Environmental Scientist Nick Buckmaster, “CA DFW-Trophy” floy tags are put on broodstock (or any large trout) that CDFW’s Fish Springs Hatchery releases in an effort to show the fishing public that CDFW does stock fish larger than the usual “catchables.” Many of these fish go to “special waters” for tournaments or events.

According to CDFW Fish Springs Hatchery Manager Matt Norris, who oversees the hatchery that stocks Deadman Creek, we do not have record of any trophy trout being stocked in Deadman Creek, but broodstock have been placed into the Upper Owens River and Crowley Lake (downstream of Deadman Creek). In spring many of our Eastern Sierra rainbow trout move into smaller headwater streams (such as Deadman Creek) to spawn, and this may be the case here.

CDFW’s Eastern Sierras hatcheries, especially Fish Springs, have been placing floy tags on broodstock, or super catchable, fish to inform the public that CDFW is stocking larger fish than the usual two-to-four-pound fish.


Crabbing from jetties?
Question: I have a question regarding crabbing on jetties. I have a valid sports fishing license and I am wondering if I can use more than two rods on the Pillar Point jetty? I’ve always thought there are no limits on the number of rods that can be used for ocean fishing, besides on public piers and special targeted species regulations. I will be mainly using crab snares with six loops. Is a valid fishing license even required to fish on jetties? (John)

Answer: If a jetty meets the definition of a public pier, no license is required but there are gear restrictions. “On public piers, no person shall use more than two rods and lines, two hand lines, or two nets, traps or other appliances used to take crabs” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.65).

“A public pier is a publicly owned manmade structure that has the following characteristics: is connected, above the mean high tide, to the main coastline or to the landmass of a named and charted natural island; has unrestricted free access for the general public; and has been built or currently functions for the primary purpose of allowing angling access to ocean waters. Additionally, publicly owned jetties or breakwaters that are connected to land, as described above, that have free unrestricted access for the general public and whose purpose it is to form the most seaward protective boundary of an ocean harbor are public piers. Jetties, breakwaters, promenades, sea walls, moles, docks, linings, barriers and other structures that are not the most seaward protective boundary of an ocean harbor, are not public piers” (CCR Title 14, section 1.88.)

In this case, the two outermost jetties at Pillar Point Harbor meet the definition of public piers. The inner jetties do not meet the definition as they are not the most seaward protective boundary, and the harbor district currently does not allow fishing from them.

For any jetties or piers that do not meet the definition of a public pier (as in section 1.88), anglers need a fishing license and are able to use as many lines or other appliances as wanted, per regulations.


Documentation needed to collect and keep antler sheds?
Question: I work on a ranch with a lot of property. Among the wildlife on the property, there are a lot of deer. Whenever I hike around I find antler sheds. I was wondering if it is legal for me to take them, and if so, what documentation would I need to keep them? (Lindy K., Sacramento)

Answer: It is legal to collect antlers that have been naturally shed or dropped by deer or elk in California. No documentation is needed to possess them. Keep in mind that everything in nature is recycled. Many mammals, rodents in particular, gnaw on shed antlers as they are valuable sources of calcium and other micronutrients. Recognize that if you remove it from the field, you are denying that source of nutrient. Next time you find a shed antler, inspect it closely and you will often see teeth marks from these animals. Also, be sure to check local regulations because some areas (e.g. most parks) do not allow collecting of sheds in areas under their jurisdiction. Fish and Game Code, section 3039(c) provides the authority to have them and sell them.

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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 Drones

(Photo from Creative Commons)

The use of drones to hunt or pursue wildlife is prohibited in California. (Photo from Creative Commons)

Question: What laws apply to big game hunting with camera equipped, radio controlled, drone aircraft? (Terry B.)

Answer: The use of drones to hunt or pursue wildlife is prohibited in California.

“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” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 251(a)).

The pursuit of birds and mammals by the use of any “motorized water, land or air vehicle” to “pursue, drive or herd any bird or mammal” is also prohibited, with limited exceptions that do not include hunting (Fish and Game Code, section 3003.5). (159)


Transporting legal black bass to my home?
Question: Is it permissible to catch a legal black bass, keep it alive while fishing, and then transport it alive to one’s home? (Jim E.)

Answer: While on the water, you can keep the black bass alive either in your live well on the boat or on a stringer in the water from where it was taken. However, you cannot then transport a live fish away from the waters where taken. Once you leave the water, all fish that you are taking with you must be dead (CCR Title 14, section 1.63).


Replacing abalone back to same rock?
Question: If an abalone diver takes a legal-sized abalone, is it legal for him to return it to the same rock if he does not remove more than three abalone during the day? I know some divers that will dive for several hours and may “pop” one to three abalones without damaging them, and keep none of them, returning all of them to the rocks where they were removed. I don’t think there is anything, technically, in the laws that prevents this, but maybe there should be. (Anonymous)

Answer: There is a law prohibiting this both for the health of the abalone and to prevent high-grading. All legal-sized abalone detached must be retained by the person who detaches it. In addition, no undersize abalone may be retained in any person’s possession or under his control. Undersize abalone must be replaced immediately to the same surface of the rock from which detached. (FGC section 29.15[d]).

No person shall take more than 18 abalone during a calendar year (FGC section 29.15[c]). If the diver takes three legal-sized abalone and puts them back, those abalone still count toward both the diver’s daily and yearly limit. This means that divers must still record those abalone on their report card so as to not exceed their yearly limit.

If a wildlife officer sees someone take a large abalone that is obviously larger than seven inches and the person puts the abalone back, this person has just violated section 29.15(d). If that person then doesn’t record the abalone, he is guilty of failing to complete the Abalone Report Card as required. Wildlife officers on the north coast have written several citations for this, usually to trophy hunters looking for that elusive 10-inch abalone. Wildlife officers try to convince people hunting for trophy abalone to measure them before removing them from rocks.


Turtles from pet stores
Question: I know it’s against the law for pet stores to sell baby turtles, as they can carry salmonella and other dangerous bacteria, plus children can swallow and choke on them. The other day I saw something in my local pet store that confused me. The store was offering a free baby turtle with the purchase of their turtle habitat setup – aquarium, gravel, filter, etc. Technically, they weren’t selling baby turtles, but doesn’t this circumvent the intent of the law, which is to protect public health? (Ed R.)

Answer: What you describe wouldn’t violate any California Fish and Game Code or its implementing regulations but would most likely violate federal and state laws designed to protect public health. Turtles are required to have a carapace (shell) length of at least 4 inches to be imported, sold or distributed (CCR Title 17, section 2612.1). This restriction was brought into effect under the Public Health Services Act by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1975 to address the problem of Salmonella infections in children. I have heard this size was determined to help prevent children from putting these small reptiles into their mouths. Prior to the ban there were an estimated 250,000 cases of turtle Salmonellosis in children and infants that were associated with pet turtles in the United States (Source: http://exoticpets.about.com/od/reptilesturtles/a/turtlesales.htm.)

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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.