Tag Archives: Diving

Scuba Diving through MPAs with Lobsters in Possession

California spiny lobster (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

California spiny lobster (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Question: If a scuba diver legally enters an area for lobster, proceeds to catch lobster in that area but then is unable to exit the water safely, could they surface swim through a Marine Protected Area (MPA) zone with their catch and exit legally? (Tom)

Answer: Yes, the diver can swim through but should make sure they are clearly not actively hunting for lobsters. For example, if when kicking in on the surface and are right in close to the rocks, they then stop and shine their lights into holes or reach into holes, they may appear to be hunting for lobsters. If they have lobsters in their possession and a warden determines they are attempting to hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill any lobster, they may be issued a citation for fishing in an MPA.

“Spear fishermen with or without catch shall be allowed to transit through MPAs and MMAs. While transiting MPAs and MMAs that prohibit spearfishing or while in possession of species not identified as allowed for take in the MPA or MMA being transited, spearfishing gear shall be in an unloaded condition, not carried in hand, and the diver shall remain at the surface” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 632(a)(8)).


Hunting with an Atlatl (spear thrower)?
Question: Is it legal to use an Atlatl, or spear thrower, to hunt game animals in California? If it is legal, what are the regulations for their use? (Charlie)

Answer: No, a spear thrower is not legal to use. Only methods defined in the 2016-2017 California Mammal Hunting Regulations booklet for the take of small game (CCR Title 14, section 311, on page 26) and for big game (CCR Title 14, section 353, beginning on page 27) may be used.


Personal limits vs boat limits?
Question: When on a boat with a group of fishermen, does the bag limit apply to the boat (as I believe I’ve read in the statutes and have seen on party boats) or does it mean that anyone catching their limit must stop fishing altogether?

I ask because we were ordered off the water when some wardens told us one of our friends could no longer be out there with us since his gear was still in the boat and he was considered to still be fishing. He was the only one with a limit.

Also, since fresh and saltwater regulations are slightly different, where in your regs are the lines of demarcation for San Francisco Bay? (Jerry Z.)

Answer: Boat limits apply to anyone fishing aboard a boat in ocean waters off California or in the San Francisco Bay (CCR Title 14, section 27.60(c)). Boat limits allow fishing by all licensed persons aboard until boat limits of finfish are taken and possessed aboard the vessel. Boat limits do not apply to sturgeon, shellfish or when fishing in inland waters.

“The San Francisco Bay is the waters of San Francisco and San Pablo bays, plus all their tidal bays, sloughs, estuaries and tidal portions of their rivers and streams between the Golden Gate Bridge and the west Carquinez Bridge. For purposes of this section, waters downstream of the Trancas Bridge on the Napa River, downstream of Highway 121 Bridge on Sonoma Creek and downstream of the Payran Street Bridge on the Petaluma River are tidal portions of the Napa River, Sonoma Creek and Petaluma River, respectively” (CCR Title 14, section 27.00).

“Inland waters are all the fresh, brackish and inland saline waters of the state, including lagoons and tidewaters upstream from the mouths of coastal rivers and streams. Inland waters exclude the waters of San Francisco Bay and the waters of Elkhorn Slough, west of Elkhorn Road between Castroville and Watsonville” (CCR Title 14, section 1.53).

When fishing in inland waters, bag limits apply to each individual angler and not to the boat as a whole.


Bear skin rug and Alaskan whale bone carving for sale
Question: I have a bear skin rug, along with the head, that was the property of my mother-in-law. We also have a whale bone carving from an Alaskan artist. These are not things we wish to hold on to. Is there any way to sell these items in another state (outside of California) even though we live in California? What are the other options? (Kathy S.)

Answer: Regarding your bear skin rug, it is “unlawful to sell or purchase, or possess for sale, the meat, skin, hide, teeth, claws or other parts of any bear in this state (Fish and Game Code, section 4758). And as far as the whale bone carving, “it is unlawful to sell or purchase a bird or mammal found in the wild in California” (FGC, section 3039). So, if your carving comes from a whale that occurs in California waters, it may not be sold in the state. While neither of these laws apply to transactions taking place entirely outside of California, you are encouraged to consult the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine if any federal laws may apply.

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

Slingshot Hunting for Grouse and Quail?

Greater Sage Grouse (ODFW photo)

Greater Sage Grouse (ODFW photo)

Question: Is it legal to use a slingshot to hunt grouse and quail during the archery season? I have never seen slingshot listed as legal “archery” equipment nor have I seen anything indicating it is illegal. (David W.)

Answer: No. Slingshots do not fall under the definition of archery equipment as defined in the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 354 and so would not be legal to use during the archery season.


Shipping trout and venison out of state?
Question: What are the laws on mailing fish to family or friends? A friend of mine took me to Lake Shasta a few years ago, and to return the favor I always bring him some fish on the way home. He is going to be moving to Kansas and I want to send him some of the prized fish. Is it legal to ship them through the mail? I know I can get live lobsters from Maine, but they are a commercial product. My friend also wants to try to send me some venison but we’re not sure of the laws there either. Thank you for your help. (Steve)

Answer: Unfortunately, it is not legal to ship trout outside of California (Fish and Game Code, section 2356.) You also cannot personally transport them to another state, unless you have a nonresident angling license or are on active military duty (in which case you may personally transport no more than one limit of trout across state lines).

Regarding venison mailed across state lines, as long as the animal was taken legally in the state of origin, it can be shipped to a recipient in California for their personal use provided the shipper complies with the following procedures:

Both California (FGC, section 2348) and United States (Lacey Act) laws require that packages containing wildlife and being shipped by common carrier “…shall clearly and conspicuously indicate the following:

(1) The name and address of the shipper.
(2) The name and address of the consignee.
(3) The number and kind of bird, mammal, fish, reptile, and amphibian contained in the package.”

In addition, a Declaration for Entry Form must be filed when importing fish, game, etc. (FGC, section 2353.)

Though it’s not a requirement, it would be a good idea for your friend to include with his venison shipment a copy of his valid hunting license and tags for the deer, along with all information regarding where and when the animal was taken.


Spear fishing options when close to stream outlets?
Question: I know there is a law prohibiting spear fishing in the ocean within 100 yards of a stream outlet. But would it be ok to enter the water from the beach and swim out past 100 yards with our equipment before we start fishing or would we have to find a beach with no outlet at all? (MJH)

Answer: The requirement for divers and spear fishermen to stay away from stream mouths was designed to protect salmon and steelhead that may be entering or exiting a stream. “No person may possess or use a spear within 100 yards of the mouth of any stream in any ocean waters north of Ventura County,” (FGC, section 28.90).

Because the regulation says “no person may possess … within 100 yards,” it would be unlawful to even stand on the beach with a spear in hand if you are within 100 yards of the mouth of a stream. This means that you will need to find an entry point more than 100 yards away from the mouth of the stream to enter the water to go spear fishing.


How many rods on piers and from shore with two-rod stamp?
Question: I’ve gotten conflicting information about the number of rods that can be used on public piers and from shore. I thought only one rod could be used from a public pier and two rods with a license and stamp from shore. However, some friends say two rods from public piers and any number of rods from shore. What’s the correct answer? I’m new to fishing in the ocean in California and I don’t want to get a ticket for something I may have misunderstood. If you could clarify this for me I would deeply appreciate it. Thank you for your time. (Jeanine Q.)

Answer: This is a common point of confusion. To clarify, the two-rod stamp (or second rod validation) applies only to freshwater fishing gear. In saltwater, only two rods (or any two fishing “appliances”, for example one rod and one crab trap, or one rod and one hoop net, etc.) may be used from public piers, and any number of rods may be used when fishing from shore. However, when fishing for groundfish or salmon in the ocean, only one rod with two hooks may be used.

Keep in mind that the law also says that “… lines must be closely attended” (CCR Title 14, section 1.05), so you can use as many lines as they can closely attend. Thus, if you have ten lines spread out over a couple hundred yards, you’d have a tough time convincing a game warden that they are all being closely attended. Make sure all lines can be quickly attended to if you catch a fish.

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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.

 

How to Find Legal Target Shooting Areas?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Wildlife Feeders to Attract Turkeys?

Spring turkey (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Spring turkey (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Beginning Bowfishing

        Bowfishing requires no special reels or gear – just a sport fishing license!         (Photo provided courtesy of Indianhead Ranch)

Question: I have been trying to get into the sport of bowfishing but two issues have my parents and I a little puzzled. My dad heard that if you are going to bowfish, you need some kind of special reel on the bow (don’t know whether it was an open face reel or a crank reel). We are also unsure what license I should use. Do we need a hunting or a fishing license to bowfish? (Nicholas M.)

Answer: You will need sport fishing licenses since you will be taking fish and not game. No special reels or gear are required for bowfishing but you must have the arrow shaft or the point, or both, attached by a line to the bow or to a fishing reel (includes crossbow) (California Code of Regulations, section 1.23).

Be sure to check with the governing law enforcement agency for the area where you intend to fish because not all areas of the state (including various federal, state and local parks) are open to bowfishing. Some areas prohibit using this type of fishing gear because they consider it possibly a “deadly weapon.” This has been the case primarily in incorporated city areas. If fishing in freshwater, please read section 2.25 in the Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations for the list of permitted species and any special water restrictions (CCR Title 14, section 2.25).


Depredation hunting for squirrels?
Question: My uncle has a ranch up in northeastern California and his property has become overrun with ground squirrels. He’s worried about his calves stepping in the holes and breaking their legs. Do we need hunting licenses to help him get rid of these varmints? How can we legally help my uncle control his ground squirrel invasion problem and not get in trouble with a game warden? (Anonymous)

Answer: When taking nongame mammals (like these ground squirrels) for depredation purposes, the landowner must be able to prove damage by the nongame mammal prior to the take. Damage must be proven in order to fall under the parameters of “take” without a license. In addition, the no license requirement only applies to the landowner and their agent. The person “taking” under depredation must show proof in writing they are acting as an agent for the landowner for depredation purposes and they must carry this proof while doing so.

Shooting certain nongame mammals not causing damage may still be allowed by licensed hunters, but all hunters must have written permission of the landowner to hunt on private property.

As always, remember that safe gun handling practices must always be practiced when using a firearm and other laws may apply.


Range finding scopes on compound and crossbows?
Question: There are scopes with range-finding capabilities for compound and crossbows available on the market. Is it legal to have one of these scopes mounted on a bow or crossbow in areas where I am legally allowed to hunt in California? (Tim)

Answer: Scopes with laser rangefinders are not prohibited. Just be sure the device does not project any visible light or electronically intensify light for the purpose of either visibly enhancing an animal or providing a visible point of aim on an animal (CCR Title 14, section 353(i)). These devices may be used only for the take of nongame and furbearing mammals as provided in the Mammal Hunting Regulations (CCR Title 14, section 264.5).


How many rounds of ammo are allowed for an AR-type gun?
Question: When reading DFG regulations, I find a shotgun is limited to three rounds of ammo, but I cannot find anywhere how many rounds of ammo a rifle or AR is limited to. I’d like to know as I want no trouble when I go squirrel hunting with my AR-type gun. (Robert K.)

Answer:  There are no restrictions on the number of rounds a rifle can hold while hunting. According to DFG Lt. Todd Tognazzini, rifles sold in California for the past several years are restricted to a 10-round capacity. This is due to other firearms laws created under the assault weapon ban. However, rifles owned prior to the capacity ban can still be used for hunting as long as ammunition is legal for the area being hunted.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.