Tag Archives: fish planting

Fish Carcasses for Bait?

Generally in ocean waters, if a fish can be legally possessed, it can be used for bait. However, there are some situations you need to watch out for.

Question: I recently went deep sea fishing and was wondering if the carcass and/or leftovers of fish caught could be used as bait? I cleaned the fillets today and thought that the skin left attached for identification purposes could be frozen and taken back on a future trip to use as an additional attraction attached to my jigs. The head and body after being filleted might also make for good bait. Are either or both of these ideas legal? I know that crab fishermen often use fish carcasses for baiting their traps, but then I also know of others who have been cited for baiting with fish carcasses. What do the regulations say? (Mark B.)

Answer: Generally in ocean waters, if a fish can be legally possessed, it can be used for bait. You may use rockfish carcasses for crab bait, but there are some situations you need to watch out for.

To eliminate any questions or confusion when you go out crabbing and fishing for rockfish, set your crab traps baited with rockfish carcasses first. Then, at the end of the day when you are returning with limits of rockfish, you can pull your crab traps and discard the used rockfish carcasses before returning to port. Otherwise it may look as though you went out and caught a limit of rockfish to use as crab bait and then continued to catch another limit of rockfish to take home. People have been caught and cited for doing this.

Also, make sure that any fish carcasses you use are from fish that are legal to possess. Many crab fishermen get cited because the carcasses they are using are from undersized salmon, lingcod, cabezon, greenling or other fish with size limits, or from cowcod, canary, yelloweye or bronze-spotted rockfish or other restricted species. They may tell their friends they got cited by the warden for using a fish carcass as crab bait, but the real story is that they got cited for the illegal take and possession of restricted fish.


Following the trout planting schedule?
Question: When the trout planting page on your website says plants will occur the week of any Sunday, does that mean the plant occurred in the week before or will occur the week following that Sunday date? Thanks for all of the help for sportsmen in California. (Robert G.)

Answer: When you see this message, it means that those waters are scheduled to be planted some time in that upcoming week (meaning following that Sunday). To learn more about the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) fish hatchery program and to view the upcoming trout planting schedule in waters throughout the state, please visit our website.


How to lose big game preference points?
Question: I have accrued several preference drawing points over the past years for various species. If I don’t put in for the preference points every year, do I lose all of those that I currently have accrued? (Dick D.)

Answer: No, accumulated preference points are zeroed out if you do not participate in the drawing for that species for five consecutive years. A missed application deadline is considered as not applying. In addition, you can also lose accumulated preference points for each of the species in the following manner:

Deer – when you are drawn for a premium deer tag as your first choice
Elk, Pronghorn Antelope and Bighorn Sheep – when you are drawn for and pay for the tag.


Rockfish size and possession limits?
Question: Is there a size limit for rockfish in California? Also, are lingcod counted in the 10 RCG Complex bag limit? (John S.)

Answer: No, there are no size limits or fillet limits for any rockfish species. Lingcod are counted OUTSIDE of the RCG Complex bag limit of 10 Rockfish, Cabezon and Greenlings in combination. The bag limit for lingcod is two fish per day/in possession. You can find this information in the current Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet, in groundfish tables toward the front of the booklet, and online.


Crab pot line length suggestion?
Question: Is there a regulation or suggestion regarding length of line for a second buoy for crab pots? Many individuals add a second buoy that is attached to the main buoy to make it easier to grab the line to hoist the pot. My impression is that this line should be about four to six feet long. I have seen the second buoy line very long such that it could be caught in the boat’s prop very easily. (Ken H., Santa Rosa)

Answer: There are no regulations regarding trailer buoy length at this point in time. My best advice would be to check out this “Best Practices Guide” 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.

Are Broken Antlers a Sign of Nutrient Deficiencies?

California mule deer (DFG file photo)

Question: I recently had a wonderful opportunity to accompany a friend to the 2010 Goodale Buck Hunt (G3) in the Owens Valley. It was great to see so many mature bucks in California! However, we noticed many large four-point bucks had broken antlers. Some actually had one complete side broken or partially broken. It appeared that the small tines on the four-point bucks had the most damage. I have never seen this many damaged horns in any other zone or any other state. Is this caused by a deficiency in nutrients? (Bob Pihera)

Answer: It may be that a mineral deficiency is playing a role, but we can’t say for sure. According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) deer program manager Craig Stowers, we have documented this deficiency regarding Tule elk in the area but don’t have any data specifically related to deer. Additionally, that particular hunt is held late (in December), pretty much in the middle of the rut. By that time those antlers have endured a lot of stress from animals fighting with each other for dominance. Given this, it wouldn’t be too unusual for these animals’ antlers to reflect a lot of wear and damage from the rutting season.


Buddhists expressing mercy by freeing fish
Question: We are Buddhists. For expressing mercy we used to buy captive fishes and set them free in rivers. However, we could not buy live bred fishes and free them here because the salesperson in the supermarket said it violates California laws. I could not find any information in the regulations you issued. Please tell us which codes apply. (James W.)

Answer: Many California fish and game laws state that it is illegal for anyone without official stocking permits to release any fish into any waters of the state. This includes both freshwater and saltwater. The code sections that apply are: Fish and Game Code, sections 2116-2302, 6300-6403 (especially 6400) and 15200-15202, and the California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 1.63, 238-238.5 and 671-671.6.


Why are more male crabs caught in traps?
Question: My son and husband have been sport crab fishing for years. They always release the females but have noticed that the male-to-female ratio in their pots is much higher for males compared to females. I tell them that the females are smarter and stay out of the traps, but I’m sure there is a scientific reason for the difference. They rarely find a female in their pots, and when they do it is late in the season. Any idea why? (Cathi D.)

Answer: While I’m sure your theory of the females just being smarter is probably true (wink), the real reason is more likely because the females are much smaller and the escape ports allow the smaller females to escape more readily from the traps before they are pulled to the surface.


Selling vintage family jewelry containing wildlife parts?
Question: While cleaning out a relative’s attic recently, I came across some Native American jewelry. I showed it to a few people and they said that some of the pieces have bear claws and even lion claws on them. They also have some bird feathers. I have no need for the jewelry and was thinking of selling them, but someone told me that bear parts are illegal to sell in California. Is this true? What about the other things? Where can I find a list of what can and cannot be sold? (Melanie)

Answer: The basic law prohibiting the sale of any bird or mammal found in the wild in California is Fish and Game Code section 3039. But, there are numerous exceptions scattered throughout the code and Commission regulations and there is no one document that clearly explains what is legal to sell. Here are some helpful tips from DFG retired Captain Phil Nelms:

1) Selling bear parts in California, even as part of jewelry or art, is illegal.

2) If by “lion” you mean mountain lion, then that is illegal. The sale of African lion parts is also illegal under the California Penal Code, section 653(o).

3) To provide a useful answer regarding the feathers, we will need to know what bird species the feathers were from and how they were originally acquired. If they are species found in the wild in California and/or were taken by sport hunting, there is little chance you could legally sell them in California.

4) For more information, both the Fish and Game Code and the California Code of Regulations are available online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/.

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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.