Tag Archives: drones

Drones for Fishing Offshore

Drone (Photo by USFWS)

Question: I have seen many videos of people using drones to fly their bait out to deeper water. I know drone use is illegal for hunting land animals, but what about for fish? Here is a link to a video of some guys using a drone to fish for tuna. (Mark G.)

Answer: There is currently nothing in the Fish and Game Code or California Code of Regulations Title 14 regulations prohibiting use of drones (or kites or remote control boats) to get your terminal gear out to locations beyond where you can cast. However, drone operators need to comply with all laws applicable to drone use, including restrictions on where they may be operated.


Bag limits for trout and kokanee separate or combined?
Question: I have a question about bag limits for trout and kokanee salmon. In just about every lake I fish, the bag limit is five trout per day. Some of these lakes also contain kokanee salmon, which also have five fish limits. When trout and kokanee occur in the same lake, are their bag limits separate or combined? For example, do two trout AND three kokanee equal one daily bag limit, or could five trout equal one limit and five kokanee equal another bag limit? Could one bag limit be comprised of five trout AND five Kokanee or is the bag limit a total combined limit? I have always assumed it was five per day total no matter what the species. (Ryan H.)

Answer: In 2015, a regulation was adopted by the Fish and Game Commission to expand angler opportunity and define kokanee as an inland salmon, which is exactly what it is. Since kokanee are considered landlocked salmon and not trout (CCR Title14, section 1.57), the bag and possession limits for each species are separate, not combined.


Is it legal to possess a found deer skull with antlers?
Question: I recently found the remains of a dead blacktail deer on public land in northern California. From what I could discern, the buck died of natural causes due to a lion turning him into lunch. Is it legal to retain the skull and antlers from this deer? Clearly, the antlers are not natural sheds and there is not a cancelled tag associated with the antlers. (Mike M.)

Answer: Yes, this would be legal. The Fish and Game Code does not prohibit possession of the dried skull and antlers of a deer that died of natural causes.


Kids and two rods
Question: My nephew (13 years old) will be coming to visit me in the Sierra this month, and I am looking forward to taking him fishing. I’m wondering if he can troll/bait fish with two rods? Would a second rod validation be required? If so, can a second rod validation be purchased without buying a sport fishing license? (Ryan H.)

Answer: Anglers younger than 16 years old are not required to buy a fishing license nor a second rod validation in order to fish with two rods. We are always happy to hear about experienced anglers taking young people out to teach them how to fish. Good luck to both of you and thank you for passing along the tradition!


Will traditional muzzleloaders be required to switch over to nonlead?
Question: I like to hunt with a traditional muzzleloader (1840s era reproduction) that uses round balls. Due to the new law requiring nonlead ammunition, will I be required as of 2019 to use nonlead round balls? (Fred H.)

Answer: Yes. Effective July 1, 2019, nonlead ammunition will be required when taking any wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California. New nonlead forms of traditional ammunition are currently being developed. Nonlead muzzleloading ammunition is readily available with plastic sabots holding copper slugs. The sabot system protects your barrel if that is a concern. For a list of certified nonlead ammunition and for more information on nonlead hunting requirements, please visit our “Nonlead Ammunition in California” website.

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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.

Bowfishing from a Moving Vehicle?

Bowfishing for carp in Big Bear Lake (Photo courtesy of John Poimiroo)

Bowfishing for carp in Big Bear Lake is one of the methods used by water managers to help control the growing invasive carp population. Big Bear is also a popular lake for bowfishing anglers and carp fishing derbies. (Photo courtesy of John Poimiroo)

Question: I get stopped and questioned by officers fairly often while bowfishing. I have been trying to find out more information about the bowfishing regulations but the freshwater sport fishing guide is unclear to me. Is it legal to bowfish from a moving vehicle, like from the bed of a pickup? Is it legal to bowfish in the California Aqueduct or State Water Project? I was told by an officer that it was not. (Justin F.)

Answer: No arrow or crossbow bolt may be released from a bow or crossbow upon or across any highway, road or other way open to vehicular traffic (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 354(e)). In addition, no person may nock or fit the notch in the end of an arrow to a bowstring or crossbow string in a ready-to-fire position while in or on any vehicle (CCR Title 14, section 354(i)).

Regarding where and what you may take while bowfishing, “bow and arrow fishing is permitted only for the taking of carp, goldfish, western sucker, Sacramento blackfish, hardhead, Sacramento pikeminnow and lamprey, all year, except in:

• Designated salmon spawning areas (Fish and Game Code, section 1505).

• The Colorado River District where only carp, tilapia, goldfish and mullet may be taken.

• The east fork of the Walker River between Bridgeport Dam and the Nevada state line where only carp may be taken” (CCR Title 14, section 2.25).

Bullfrogs may also be taken by bowfishing under some conditions (CCR Title 14, section 5.05).


Hunting on an Indian reservation?
Question: The Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) Reservation is in deer zone D12 along the Colorado River. D12 maps show that all of this land is legal to hunt with a California hunting license and deer tags right up to the Colorado River. Can I legally hunt on CRIT Reservation land because it is within California D12, or should I stay away from reservation land? (Anonymous)

Answer: A person who is not a tribal member and wishes to hunt on the CRIT Reservation would have to comply with both California and tribal law, which requires a hunting license issued by the CRIT in addition to a California hunting license and deer tag. You should contact the CRIT’s Fish and Game Department and consult the CRIT Natural Resources Code for further information about hunting on this Reservation. CRIT contact information and the CRIT Natural Resources Code is available at http://www.crit-nsn.gov/.


Rules on drones in Marine Protected Areas?
Question: What are the rules regarding drones? Specifically, are there any regulations regarding flying drones in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)? (Jeanée Natov)

Answer: It is a violation to fly any aircraft, including any airplane or helicopter, less than 1,000 feet above water or land over the Año Nuevo State Reserve, the Farallon Islands Game Refuge, the Point Lobos State Reserve, the California Sea Otter Game Refuge, and Anacapa, San Miguel, Santa Barbara and San Nicolas Islands, except for rescue operations, in case of any emergency, or for scientific or filmmaking purposes under a permit issued by the department after a review of potential biological impacts (Fish and Game Code, section 10501.5).

Federal regulators of the FAA and NOAA also restrict the use of drones. Flying motorized aircraft (except valid law enforcement) is prohibited less than 1000 ft. above any of the four zones of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary which are listed in Appendix B (Code of Federal Regulations Title 15, section 922.132(a)(6)). Individuals should consult the MPA- specific regulations in section 632 of Title 14 for special restrictions for individual MPAs. There may be additional regulations prohibiting disturbance of nesting and rafting birds offshore that are covered under federal law.


Firearm for self defense during archery season?
Question: During an archery hunt, can a member of your group who is a licensed hunter, but does not have a deer tag, be in possession of a firearm strictly for self-defense? I will be archery hunting for the first time this year and I plan to travel into the backcountry on foot. A friend who will be coming with me has always had reservations about traveling in bear/mountain lion habitat unarmed due to some unfortunate run-ins in his past. (Kevin K.)

Answer: If it helps put you at greater ease, dangerous encounters by hunters with bears and lions are extraordinarily rare. As long as the person is not hunting with archery equipment, does not have a tag, and is simply accompanying you, then he may carry a firearm. You must be in a location where it is legal to carry a firearm, and your friend cannot assist in the take in any way.

With limited exceptions for active or retired peace officers, archery hunters may not possess a firearm while hunting in the field during any archery season, or while hunting during a general season under the provisions of an archery-only tag (CCR Title 14, section 354(h)).

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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.