Tag Archives: Selling wildlife

Catching Crabs with a Chicken Leg?

Dungeness crabs (ODFW photo)

Dungeness crabs (ODFW photo)

Question: California regulations stipulate that taking crustaceans by “hook and line” is not a legal method of take. So what about a baited line with no hook (e.g. a chicken leg) with a hand line tied to it? As long as I use my hands to take the crab and not a net, is a baited line allowed to lure the crab within reach? (Patrick M.)

Answer: Ocean sport fishing regulations specify what gear may be used to take saltwater crustaceans, and any “nets, traps or other appliances” not specified in the following section are prohibited methods of take (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.80(a)(2)). A baited line without a hook is not a legal method of take, but here’s an idea … you could tie a chicken leg to a loop trap, or make the chicken leg into a loop trap by attaching up to six loops (slip knots) to the bait, and snare a crab this way. This method of a line attached to a chicken leg would be legal to use! Loop traps may not be used south of Point Arguello (CCR Title 14, section 29.80(e)).

Looking for sustainable and ethical wild game for restaurant
Question: I am a chef and we will open a new, very small, specialized Japanese restaurant in Los Angeles. I am looking for sustainable and ethical wild game. Could you please help me find a hunter that deals with restaurants like ours? (Ni L.)

Answer: It is illegal for anyone to buy, sell or trade any sport-taken wild game meat in California. There are businesses that import “exotic” meats, and they are inspected and regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). According to the USDA, “Game meats that do not have a mark of inspection cannot be sold. This is the case for game meat harvested by a recreational hunter. The inspection and processing requirements will not be met and thus the meat cannot be sold.”

Lifetime licenses for a 3-year-old
Question: I just purchased a lifetime fishing license for my 3-year-old son and would like to purchase his lifetime hunting license as well. Do I have to wait until he is old enough to take and pass his hunters safety class first? (Anxious dad)

Answer: Great question! You will be able to purchase the lifetime hunting license now to lock in the price but he will not be able to use it until he completes his hunter safety class. Once you buy the license, our License and Revenue Branch will send you confirmation of your purchase. After your son takes the class (usually at nine years or older) and gives us the certificate showing that he has passed his test, like magic, his profile will show that he has an active lifetime hunting license and he will be able to use it.

Likewise, his lifetime fishing license may not show up in his profile until he turns 16 (when he will need to have a fishing license to fish). If you bought one of the add-on packages that include fishing report cards, he will have access to those before his 16th birthday because the report cards are necessary for anglers of all ages.

Good luck and I hope you have many happy years of hunting and fishing with your son!

Catching bait from the piers and bays
Question: What are the legal methods allowed for catching live bait? I have used sabiki type rigs when fishing for mackerels and sardines, but recently I’ve started fishing the bays. Is it legal to use homemade minnow traps in the bays (e.g. Mission Bay and San Diego Bay) to catch smelts to use for bait, or can I only use those bait nets available at local sport fishing retailers for catching bait fish? I am hoping to catch baits south of Point Conception. (Charles P.)

Answer: Baited traps are not authorized for the take of bait fish south of Point Conception. The only authorized methods of take for bait fish are using dip nets, baited hoop nets not greater than 36 inches in diameter, by hook and line or by hand. “Dip nets of any size and baited hoop nets not greater than 36 inches in diameter may be used to take herring, Pacific staghorn sculpin, shiner surfperch, surf smelt, topsmelt, anchovies, shrimp and squid. Hawaiian-type throw nets may be used north of Point Conception to take such species” (CCR Title 14, section 28.80). When taking other species of bait fish, your hand-held dip net must be not more than six feet in greatest diameter, excluding the handle (CCR Title 14, section 1.42).

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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.

Casting with a Potato Gun-Style Launcher

(CDFW photo by Sabrina Bell)

(CDFW photo by Sabrina Bell)

Question: Is it legal to use the “Sandblaster Baitcaster” in California? This device is supposed to be great for surf fishing from the beach. It uses compressed air to cast your bait up to 300 yards from shore. See it at their website, www.bunkerupfishin.com/. (Victor H.)

Answer: This line launching device is really just another form of the old “potato guns” that were popular for a while until they were outlawed in public areas. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Lt. Dennis McKiver, potato guns are legal under federal law. Under state law, potato guns that use combustion (instead of compressed air) to launch the projectile are “firearms,” and one with a bore of over 0.5 inches is a destructive device.

Pneumatic potato guns like this one use compressed air and are legal as long as they are not used like a weapon (e.g. shot at a person, etc.), so this line launching device would be legal under state and federal laws. However, you should check for local city and county ordinances because some local governments prohibit use of any devices that propel projectiles, and if you intend to use this line launching device on any state beach, you may also want to consult State Parks.

As far as using it to cast a fishing line, nothing in the Fish and Game Code or its implementing regulations prohibit using this compressed air launcher as long as the fishing line is attached to a rod and reel, or a person is brave enough to hold the other end of line in their hands!

What to do when catching invasive fish species?
Question: What should we do when we catch invasive fish in local lakes? Specifically, Balboa Lake in the San Fernando Valley remains warm enough in winter to support some tropical fish. Certain aquarium fishes breed as well as survive in these waters. The problem now are Plecostomus (commonly found in home fish tanks to eat the algae) that have taken over the lake and the Los Angeles River.

A couple of us have caught over 200 since February in one little cove while fishing for carp. We were told by park personnel to kill them (seemed reasonable) but I wanted to make sure they are inedible so that we won’t get into trouble for wasting fish. Please advise. Thanks. (Bill S.)

Answer: From a biological standpoint, CDFW would like to see these invasive fish disposed of (killed) rather then placed back in the system. The law prohibits the waste of any fish taken in waters of the state (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.87). This regulation is intended to encourage people to eat any fish they kill, and to avoid needlessly killing fish. But, any lawful use of fish that are legal for sale by an aquarium or pet store would satisfy the requirements of this regulation, including their use as fertilizer for your garden.

Here’s something that might surprise you … Plecostomus are consumed by humans in some of their native Central and South American waters. Jackson Landers, author of “Eating Aliens: One Man’s Adventures Hunting Invasive Animal Species” includes a recipe for Plecostomus in this book.

Scuba diving for Dungeness crabs?
Question: In a recent column you said that you could not take Dungeness crabs on SCUBA. Did I read that correctly or were you referring to seasons? (Duanne S.)

Answer: I saidwhen Dungeness crab season is open, they may be taken by hand via SCUBA but divers may not possess any hooked device while diving or attempting to dive for them (CCR Title 14, section 29.80(g)).

Sale of pig mount … Is it legal?
Question: My brother harvested a pig about 20 years ago on a private ranch in California and had the head mounted. He wants to sell the mount, but doesn’t want to break the law and can’t get a definitive answer from anyone. Could you help? Thank you as always for your help! (Dave)

Answer: Your brother can give it away but cannot sell or trade it to anyone. With a few exceptions (that don’t apply to your brother), the law prohibits the sale or purchase of any part of a bird or mammal found in the wild in California. (Fish and Game Code, section 3039)

Is there a limit on sand crabs?
Question: Is it legal to catch sand crabs with a fishing license, and if legal, what is the limit? Can sand crabs be taken on all beaches of the state? (Gina N.)

Answer: Yes, it is legal to catch sand crabs with a fishing license statewide wherever fishing is authorized. The limit is 50 crabs per day and in possession (CCR Title 14, section 29.85(d)).

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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.

What’s the Limit When Fishing Catch and Release?

Angler with a wild Klamath River Steelhead that was soon released. (DFG Photo)

Question: If I fish for trout using a barbless lure and catch five during the day but release them all, is that still considered my limit for the day?

Answer: Fish caught and immediately released do not count toward your daily bag limit unless the fish dies or is not released in a viable condition. If fish are not released, they are counted toward your limit whether you keep them or give them to someone else. Fish that are maintained and later released may also count toward the daily bag limit if they show signs of stress or other indicators they can not swim off in a viable condition. Keep in mind that any fish with a zero bag limit may not be retained or possessed at any time, so these fish must be released immediately no matter what condition they are in upon landing.

Can I sell a bear skin rug made in another state?
Question:I legally shot a black bear last year in California and then took it to a taxidermist in Nevada who was to create a bear skin rug for me. Somehow the taxidermist mistakenly gave my bear away to another customer and so then gave me a different bear rug to replace it. This wasn’t a good solution for me though because I don’t want this bear skin from an animal I didn’t take. Can I legally sell it since it was taken in another state? (Anonymous)

Answer: No. Any and all sales of bears and bear parts (even your bear skin rug) are prohibited in California (Fish and Game Code, section 4758). According to DFG Bear Program Manager Marc Kenyon, bears can be tanned, preserved or utilized strictly for personal use. The prohibition against the sale of bears and bear parts extends beyond our local California black bears to include all species of bears, regardless of whether they were taken in California or imported into the state. This is one of the few Fish and Game violations that are prosecuted as felonies.

Crabbing over two days
Question:If I go out crabbing on my boat and get a limit of 10 Dungeness crabs before midnight, can I then go out after midnight till morning and catch another limit? I figure since technically it is two different days, this is possible. I really want to make sure that I meet all DFG regulations. (Frank M.)

Answer: Only one limit of crab may be in your possession at any time, and there are no exceptions. If you’re going to fish two days and hope to take two limits total, you can fish one day but then must go back to shore and give those 10 crabs to another person who doesn’t have any of their own. Then, the following day you could go out again to take a limit for yourself. Whoever receives your gift of crab doesn’t need to have a fishing license, but if they don’t possess a license they cannot help you by doing anything related to taking crab (baiting jars, setting or pulling traps, taking crab from the trap, etc.).

Is non-lead shot required for hunting crows in the condor zone?
Question: When hunting for crows in the condor zone, is non-lead shot required? I say yes per the regs, but a lot of people say no. (L. Ruiz)

Answer: You are correct. Non-lead shot is required when taking American crows in the condor zone (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 475(f)).

Free fishing licenses for blind or visually impaired?
Question: Is it true that the DFG issues free fishing licenses to adults who are blind or visually impaired? If so, how do I apply for one? (Tom J.)

Answer: Yes, it is true. Free five-year fishing licenses are available to visually, physically and developmentally disabled people who meet the criteria and can present certification from a physician. Applications are available only at DFG license sales offices, on our website or through the mail. If you meet the criteria for a license and want to apply by mail, visit our website at www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/fishing/sportfishingfreereduced.html for information and applications. To apply by e-mail, write to us at LRB@dfg.ca.gov and include your name, mailing address and the type of application (reduced-fee, free one-year or free five-year) needed. For a list of DFG license sales offices, go to www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/officelocation.html.

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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.