Tag Archives: Delta

Baiting or Habitat Enhancement?

Mule deer on scenic hillside (USFWS photo)

Mule deer on scenic hillside (USFWS photo)

Question: I am an avid outdoorsman here in Southern California. I noticed on a recent scouting trip that someone left a bucket in one of my upland game hunting locations. It had some water in it and it looked like it was placed there to act as a person’s DIY waterhole. I’m not sure if they left it by accident or if they placed it there in the hopes of attracting deer and game birds. Does this count as feeding? I’m fully aware there are prohibitions on feeding and baiting big game, and I am aware there are restrictions on baiting small game like quail, but does leaving your own water count as feeding or baiting? I looked at the regs and I didn’t find a definition of what feeding is, at least in regard to this situation. NGOs build these types of devices all the time as habitat enhancement in areas where big game need access to water. I’d imagine it is done with proper permission and permits, yet I did not want to leave a CalTIP report about a poacher if this was not illegal. (Robert T.)

Answer: As long as the person placing the watering device has permission from the land owner or controlling agency to place it on the property, there should be no issue. However, regulations may prohibit hunting near the watering device if it is on public land (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 730). This code section prohibits hunting for more than 30 minutes within 200 yards of wildlife watering places on public land within the boundary of the California Desert Conservation Area, or within ¼ mile of six specified wildlife watering places in Lassen and Modoc Counties. The definition of “watering place” includes man-made watering devices for wildlife.


Fishing outside restricted depths?
Question: A while back I read some fishing reports from some partyboats out of Sonoma County who were reporting they had picked up limits of rockfish and lings and were then running out to 220 feet of water to fish trolling gear for salmon. Isn’t this illegal? How do these commercial sportfishing boats get away with it? (Dan F.)

Answer: Yes, that practice would be illegal. Partyboats must abide by the depth restrictions for the groundfish management area where they are fishing. For the area you describe it would be 180 feet, and if groundfish are on the boat, no fishing may occur in deeper water. A partyboat could have gone salmon fishing in 220 feet and then moved to legal depths to catch rockfish inside 180 feet, but not in the manner you describe. If groundfish were caught while fishing the deeper water for salmon, they would have had to be released.


Fishing by Delta farmer’s pumps
Question: I was fishing in a boat on the California Delta yesterday. A farmer’s pump was pumping and the farmer stopped his truck on the levee to tell me that it’s against the law to fish within 100 yards of a running pump. I’ve never heard of that, and I was wondering if the farmer was just blowing smoke. What do you think? (Ken A.)

Answer: The farmer was mistaken, but CCR Title 14, section 2.35 does prohibit taking fish within 250 feet of any fishway; egg-taking station; dam, weir or rack that has a fishway or an egg-taking station; and the upstream side of any fish screen.


Sport fishing on a commercial crab boat?
Question: Can commercial boats sport fish for Dungeness crab during the sport season when the commercial season is closed?

Answer: Yes, if the commercial vessel is not engaged in any commercial activity (Fish and Game Code, section 7856(f)), the commercial vessel does not hold a Dungeness crab vessel permit (CCR Title 14, section 132.1(a)), and everyone taking crab or fishing onboard has a sport fishing license and is following sport fishing regulations.


Bear spray for personal protection?
Question: Is bear spray legal for personal protection while deer or pig hunting in California? (Tony B.)

Answer: Yes. And not only is it legal, many people also recommend 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.

If White-tailed Deer Stray into California, Can We Shoot?

White-tail deer (Photo courtesy of USFWS)

White-tailed deer (Photo courtesy of USFWS)

Question: If white-tailed deer were to migrate into California from Oregon or Idaho, could they be shot here on sight since there is no season or provision for that species? (Scott H.)

Answer:  No. Since Fish and Game Code, section 3950(a) defines deer as genus Odocoileus, which includes white-tailed deer, white-tailed deer can only be taken under the normal deer hunting provisions for the area in which it wandered.


Spearfishing in the Sacramento River
Question: I live in the Valley District and am wondering if it is legal to spearfish in the Sacramento River? I know there are carp, pikeminnow (squawfish) and western suckers. I’ve been searching online and many people say you can’t spearfish in any fresh water system, including streams, lakes and rivers. I have spearfished in the ocean but not in fresh water yet. I keep hearing different things from people regarding the spearfishing.

Also, is there any recommended equipment for spearfishing? Can homemade or custom-built equipment be legally used for spearfishing? I know the Valley District is only open for a short time (five months) for spearfishing. (J.T. Moua)

Answer: Spearfishing is allowed but there are some restrictions. First of all, please pick up a copy of the 2012-2013 Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet available free of charge at most stores or DFG offices that sell fishing licenses or online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/. Section 2.30 (page 15) lists the only species that may be taken in the Valley District between May 1 and Sept. 15. For a description of the boundaries for the Valley District, please see section 6.36 (page 27). In addition, you may not spearfish in designated spawning areas. There are no specific definitions regarding the spears that may be used, so you may build your own or buy a custom made spear. For a definition of what regulations constitute spearfishing, please see section 1.76 (page 13).


How many hooks are allowed when sturgeon fishing?
Question: When fishing for sturgeon, how many hooks are allowed?

Answer: Only one single point, single shank, barbless hook may be used on a line when taking sturgeon.


When a sturgeon is accidentally caught on the wrong gear …?
Question: If a legal-sized white sturgeon is caught accidentally on a barbed hook (e.g. while fishing for striped bass), can it be legally kept as long as the angler possesses a sturgeon report card and tag? (Anonymous)

Answer: No, even if accidentally caught, barbed hooks are not an authorized method of take for white sturgeon. Thus, even legal-sized white sturgeon caught on a barbed hook cannot be kept.


What are the rules for sturgeon fishing from a boat?
Question: Once an angler on a boat has legally caught and kept a white sturgeon, must all anglers on that boat switch to barbless hooks?

Answer: No. However, for the rest of that day, the successful sturgeon angler must no longer fish for sturgeon and must immediately release any sturgeon that is accidentally caught.


Sand Souvenirs
Question: I am developing a souvenir that would contain granules of sand from California beaches. I would only require about a half-gallon of sand. Am I able to take sand from a beach and re-sell it as a souvenir to promote the state and its natural resources? (Paul K.)

Answer: Generally, beach sand is not protected by any California Fish and Game law. However, collection of anything (including beach sand) is prohibited in any park or other marine area that has a specific designation and protection in law. In addition, you may want to consider the corrosive nature of beach sand due to its salt content and other unsuitable qualities resulting from decomposition of biotics before using it in your souvenirs. You may find it more beneficial to purchase treated beach sand that is sold in small quantities at many stores that stock landscape and garden supplies.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.