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CALIFORNIA'S ONLY SPORTSMAN'S NEWS SINCE 1953

Carrie Wilson's Blog


DFG Q & A
WONews Column by Carrie Wilson

Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. She cannot personally answer everyone’s questions but will select a few to answer in this column each week. Contact her at cwilson@dfg.ca.gov.
How to get to shore when boat fishing is closed?
Question: I'm aware that during the non-boat rockfish season (i.e., winter/spring), anglers are required to either fish from shore or spearfish for these species. My question is in regard to whether using a boat to access an on-shore fishing spot is acceptable. Specifically, can I use my boat or kayak to reach a good shore fishing location, fish from shore and catch my fish, then get back in the boat for the ride home? I wouldn't be fishing from the boat, but instead using it to transport me to my shore fishing location. Thanks for your help. (Rick R.)

kayakfishing
ARRIVING BY BOAT or kayak to fish from shore in an MPA that outlaws use of boats would not be legal as each of the groundfish management areas have a specific section stating, “No vessel or watercraft (motorized or non-motorized) may be used to assist in taking or possessing these species while angling from shore under this provision.” CREATIVE COMMONS PHOTO

Answer: No, I’m afraid you will need to strap on your hiking boots and walk in to your favorite fishing spots along the coast during the boat-based fishing closures. Arriving by boat would not be legal as each of the groundfish management areas have a specific section stating, “No vessel or watercraft (motorized or non-motorized) may be used to assist in taking or possessing these species while angling from shore under this provision.” Depending upon which groundfish management area you plan to fish in (Northern [27.25], Mendocino [27.30], San Francisco [27.35], Central [27.40] or Southern [27.45]), this regulation can be found under section (c)(3).


Luring fish with licorice for bait?


Question: My brother and I have two burning questions we have been wondering about. Is it legal to fish with licorice as bait? Also, we observed a man with a syringe injecting air into his bait worms so they would float off the bottom. What do you think the purpose was and is this legal to do? (Marcus O.)


Answer: Processed foods, such as licorice, are legal under bait regulations for inland waters (found beginning in California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 4.00). It is also legal to inject air into a fishing worm and many such kits are found at sporting goods outlets. This method can be a very effective way to keep a worm off the bottom of lakes with heavy bottom vegetation.


Are black mussels from Bodega Bay under quarantine?


Question: While we were fishing from the shore in Bodega Bay last weekend I noticed a lot of beautiful black mussels on the rocks. I believe the limit is 10 lbs/person but wanted to make sure it was the safe season to eat them. Are they under quarantine for domoic acid, too? Thank you for your help!!! (Ben L.)


Answer: You are correct that the limit is 10 pounds (in the shell) for California sea mussels and bay mussels in combination (CCR Title 14, section 29.55). Mussels are not currently under quarantine. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) monitors for natural toxins that occur along the coast that may affect wild mussels. Mussels are regularly quarantined on an annual basis, usually from May through October, because mussels are a particularly high risk species because they have the ability to concentrate toxins very quickly. When dangerous levels of toxin are detected in mussels, CDPH will begin testing other shellfish species as well for these toxins, if samples are readily available. If samples are not easily obtained, or if toxin levels are increasing rapidly, CDPH will issue a press release announcing a special health advisory for the potentially toxic seafood species in the affected area.


To check for real time advisories, go to www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/healthadvisory.asp.To check for an advisory or quarantine in advance of any mussel-collecting trip, you can also call the CDPH Biotoxin Information Line at (800) 553-4133. For more information about the annual mussel quarantine, please visit the CDPH website at www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/MusselQuarantineFAQ.aspx.


Can pesky squirrels be relocated?


Question: Is it permissible to relocate pesky squirrels that are destroying or damaging private property? (Fred, Redding)


Answer: No. Small nuisance mammals that are damaging property may be taken by the owner but may not be released alive except in the immediate area. Relocating nuisance wildlife not only relocates the problem but also places the critter into an area where it has no established shelter or food and water source, and could potentially spread disease. A depredation permit may be issued for tree (gray) squirrels, unless it is the gray squirrel season when hunters are allowed a four squirrel bag and possession limit.


Must fishing license be carried while spearfishing?


Question: If I am spearfishing from the shore and return with my take, do I need to have my fishing license on my person or can it be in my car? (William H.)


Answer: Persons diving from a boat or shore may have their license on the boat or within 500 yards on the shore, respectively (Fish and Game Code, section 7145).


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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 Carrie.Wilson@wildlife.ca.gov.


Retrieving game after shoot time?
Question: This situation happened to me. Five minutes before the end of shooting time I knocked down a snow goose that fell out of range and started swimming. I waded after it in the flooded rice field but couldn't catch it or get within range until after shooting time ended. In a case like that, do I shoot late or let it go and risk a waste of game citation? Do wardens consider "spirit of the law" as opposed to "letter of the law?” (Jim S.)

waterfowlhuntingatdusk
BOTTOM LINE, IT is illegal to take a bird after legal shoot time. If you pursue the game and shoot late, a warden would use their judgment as to whether a crime was committed. USFWS PHOTO

Answer: If you are “in hot pursuit" of the goose, you should be able to reach it before the end of shoot time, or at least within a minute or two! Bottom line answer is this: It is illegal to take the bird after legal shoot time. If a warden was watching you pursue the game and shoot late, they would use their judgment as to whether a crime was committed. On the other hand, waste of game only applies when a person does not make a reasonable effort to retrieve. If the hunter tries to catch it and it swims off, it is a reasonable effort. Breaking the law is not a reasonable effort. So, if the hunter doesn't shoot late, no laws are broken!


Lures with glowing light attractants?


Question: I just saw some new trout lures containing little glow sticks to attract fish. Someone told me that using light to attract fish is illegal and hence these lures are illegal to use. What do you think? (Shawn A.)


Answer: These lures sound as if they are legal. There are no fish and game laws prohibiting using light to attract fish. Lights may be used at night when and where such fishing is allowed, and lights may be used on or as part of any fishing tackle (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 2.15).


Buying an extra license to keep handy?


Question: Several years ago, I lost my fishing license and could not locate the duplicate, so I was forced to purchase a new license. About a month later, I found the lost license, and at that point technically had two licenses for the same year (with ocean enhancement validation, etc.) I found that having an extra license gave me piece of mind because as I transitioned from my car to a friend’s, to a boat, to a sport fishing charter, I could keep one in my dry box (that goes from car to boat) and another with my fishing gear. Is there any regulation prohibiting me from doing this intentionally? From an economic point of view, it would be worth the extra cost to me to have the extra piece of mind, and I don't mind that the funds go to an important state program. Can I purchase more than one license so that I can always be sure to have one in my possession, no matter how forgetful I become? (Brent C., Santa Barbara)


Answer: Unfortunately, you cannot purchase more than one license intentionally. However, if your license is lost, you may purchase a duplicate license.


According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Sport Fishing Program Analyst Glenn Underwood, a person is prohibited from obtaining more than one license, tag, permit, reservation or other entitlement of the same type, except for certain short term licenses (Fish and Game Code, section 1053(1)). This section does allow a person to obtain a duplicate license, tag, permit, reservation or other entitlement upon the loss or destruction of the original with the payment of the duplicate fee.


CDFW has an Automated License Data System (ALDS) that keeps track of the licenses a person has purchased and makes obtaining a duplicate sport fishing or hunting license easy from any license agent. The ALDS enforces license rules regarding the number of licenses a person may possess and will not allow a person to purchase a second annual sport fishing or hunting license.


Starfish hunting?


Question: Is it legal to take a starfish off the rocks in the ocean? If it is, do you need a license? (Mike H.)


Answer: Sea stars (starfish) may not be taken off the nearshore rocks in California if they are within 1,000 feet of the mean high tide line. Outside of this zone you may take 35 sea stars, and yes, you’ll need a valid fishing license. And if you do still choose to venture out past the 1,000 ft. zone for them, and you’re north of Yankee Point, you can only take them while free diving (CCR Title 14, section 29.05(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 Carrie.Wilson@wildlife.ca.gov.


Bad behavior on a waterfowl wildlife area
Question: I have a question about waterfowl hunter rules/responsibilities on wildlife areas (WLA). We hunters are fortunate to be able to access and utilize these refuges and I have always been under the impression that accurate reporting of waterfowl taken following a hunt is an important rule of the refuges. In fact, I have heard that having accurate bird counts from hunters noting which areas or blinds they hunted helps the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to make good decisions about where to invest time and monies for habitat improvement in the upcoming years.

There is at least one wildlife refuge that I know of where a small number of hunters give the rest of us a black eye. At this refuge, a number of "regulars" refuse to turn in accurate counts of birds taken so as not to reveal their "honey spots" to other hunters. This same group has also been guilty of defacing and vandalizing property on the WLA, making it difficult, if not impossible to share info about the wildlife area with other hunters. Due to the bad behavior of this group of hunters, the wildlife area staff are no longer willing to post the hunt results for each blind as has been done in the past. This type of behavior (not following hunter rules for reporting) makes the rest of us law abiding, rule-following hunters look bad. We just hope to get a chance to come out to these fine refuges at least a few times a season with a reservation draw number, look at the counts and take our chances.


I have been waterfowl hunting in California for over 35 years, and I know that this has been a problem at this WLA over the years due to disgruntled regulars yanking out pages from the book of hunt results that used to be available. Is the rule of reporting accurate bird results something that is enforceable, or is this rule something that is okay to ignore, as has been done at this WLA? (Robert S., Castaic) 


graylodgeCALIFORNIA WATERFOWL WILDLIFE AREA. Photo by Carrie Wilson

Answer: It sounds as though you are referring to one of our Type A Waterfowl Hunt Areas where an entry permit and fee are required. In this case, yes, all visitors must return permit cards and present (record) any fish or game taken to staff at the check station, or upon request of any department employee (not just wildlife officers) (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 550(c)(2)(B)). Where CDFW may be operating a self-checkout, the expectation is that hunters do the appropriate and ethical thing, which is to accurately report their harvest.


According to CDFW Wildlife Officer Rick Fischer, it is not uncommon for officers to inspect hunter’s items for waterfowl before they arrive at the check station to make sure they report all waterfowl. While most check stations have the ability to put harvest records behind a window to prevent removal, some may not have that ability and leave results in a binder or on a notice board which may be subject to vandalism.


If a particular area is having a problem with vandalism and/or non-reporting of game taken, please report this to CDFW as soon as possible so that we can take appropriate enforcement action. Please call the 24-hour CalTIP hotline (888-334-2258) to report suspicious behavior and remember to gather essential information such as vehicle license plates, descriptions of suspects, date, time and type of game harvested. You may also send an anonymous tip to 847411 (tip411). In the message, just text CALTIP followed by a space and then the information. You can even send photos. Remember, you can remain anonymous and may receive an award. (617 words)


What’s the limit on mudsuckers?


Question: I like to catch mudsuckers for eating but can’t figure out if they have a limit. I’ve been told there is a bag limit but the book does not state anything. (Truong A.)


Answer: While some species have fishing regulations that pertain only to them (rockfish, salmon, etc.), there are other species that do not. Species for which there are no specific regulations, such as longjaw mudsuckers, are covered under section 27.60 on page 34 in the current Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet. The daily bag limit for species covered by subsection 27.60(a) is 10 fish of any one species, with a total daily bag limit of 20 fish. This means you can take up to 10 longjaw mudsuckers, plus 10 other fish per day, for a total of 20 fish.


Fish that fall under section 27.60 have no closed fishing seasons (open year-round) or size limits. Regulations pertaining to longjaw mudsuckers can be found in a table at the back of the regulations booklet (see pg. 100). www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/regulations/sport-fishing.



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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 Carrie.Wilson@wildlife.ca.gov.


Learning to Hunt at any Age
Question: Most hunters that I know learned in their youth. I am an adult male who has never hunted but would like to learn. Are there classes or programs for adult males to learn? If so, can you please give me some information as to how an old guy like me can get started? (Edward H.)

familyhunting
YOU CAN LEARN to hunt at any age and the best place to start is with a hunter education course through CDFW (PHOTO COURTESY OF KALKOMEY ENTERPRISES)

Answer: Yes, and an excellent first step is to take a hunter education course. This course is required to get a hunting license in California and provides good entry level instruction about firearms safety, first aid, wildlife management, etc. For more information and to find an upcoming class in your area, please go to: www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunter-Education.


After you’ve taken the entry level hunter education class, you might consider taking some of the Advanced Hunter Education classes offered by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) throughout the state. These include wild pig seminars, waterfowl seminars, wild turkey seminars, etc. and can be found on the CDFW website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunter-Education/Advanced.


I also encourage you to check around for local sportsmen’s clubs in your area. Most communities have them and many are associated with a gun range. This would be another location to learn a great deal about firearms and to discuss hunting with experienced people.


And finally, there are lots of books and magazines available that provide many resources about hunting, and the Internet is also full of information that may help (e.g. www.nssf.com/hunting/getstarted/). Just remember, you’re never too old to learn how to hunt and there are lots of resources available to help you. Good luck!


When is the best time to go clamming?


Question: When is the best season to enjoy clamming? (Julie S.)


Answer: There really is no best season for clamming. Generally, any really low tide during daytime hours with minimal surf and decent weather is a good time. There are specific seasons for taking of Pismo clams and razor clams in specific areas, so please check the regulations before venturing out for these clams.


The hours of take for clams are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. No instruments capable of taking clams (shovels, hoes, rakes, etc.) may be possessed on the beach during closed hours. It may be safer to go clamming from November through April, as biotoxins may be concentrated in filter-feeding bivalves (such as mussels and clams) from May through October especially. For more information about biotoxins, please visit the California Department of Public Health website at www.cdph.ca.gov/healthinfo/environhealth/water/pages/shellfish.aspx.


Collecting antler sheds and winter kill skulls?


Question: Is it legal to keep deer and elk antler sheds? How about deer, elk and big horn sheep skulls from winter kills? I have seen people collecting them but I wasn't sure if it was ok to do. (Pamela Sue)


Answer: You cannot collect big horn sheep skulls or horns at any time. The other antler sheds may not be removed from wildlife refuges or from public parks and forests. You can pick up deer and elk sheds from public lands and private property you have permission to be on and deer and elk antlers may be legally collected and sold (Fish and Game Code, section 3039). You should avoid picking up anything that is fresh but it is not illegal for someone to pick up bleached antlers. In addition, you can sell sheds that you have found but cannot sell whole antlers or antlers with heads attached (FGC, section 3039(c)).


How can a mobility-impaired angler obtain a fishing license?


Question: I am disabled and confined to a wheelchair and am trying to obtain a general sport fishing license. The rules seem to require someone in my position to go to a license sales office, which would be difficult as I live in San Francisco. (Blaine J.)


Answer: You can complete the Free Sport Fishing License Application (which requires a physician signature) found online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/fishing and return the form with a copy of your identification (DMV ID, passport or birth certificate) to any CDFW license sales office listed on the back of the form. The office will then enter your information into the system and mail you back a license. You also may renew your license at any CDFW license agent, CDFW license sales office or online.


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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 Carrie.Wilson@wildlife.ca.gov.


Laser sights for bowfishing?
Question: When bowfishing for game fish, like carp, is it legal to have a green 5mW visible laser on your bowfishing bow or crossbow? I know that visible lasers on a bow or crossbow are prohibited for the use of hunting animals on land, but I’m just not sure about for fish in freshwater. Having a laser helps compensate for light refraction in the water because aiming at a fish that is not where it looks like it is can be quite tricky.

Also, besides the regulations in section 1.23 and section 2.25, are there any special seasons or rules that I have to follow for using a crossbow? I ask because I heard that crossbows in California can only be used during rifle season for land game.


Using a crossbow to bowfish is only mentioned one time in the freshwater regulation booklet, most of the text says “bow and arrow fishing.” I want to be prepared to explain to a park ranger or wildlife officer (given I am in an area designated for bowfishing) that I can use a crossbow. What code sections should I cite or what should I say? (Alexander A.) 


bowfishingcreativeBOWFISHING WITH A laser sight is legal. Creative Commons Photo

Answer: Yes, it legal to have a green 5mW visible laser on your bowfishing bow or crossbow. When bowfishing in freshwater, you need only follow the regulations in sections 1.23 and 2.25. What you say about crossbows for hunting being legal only during rifle season is correct, but as long as you’re fishing and not hunting, this should not be an issue. The main difference between fishing and hunting is that a crossbow is not considered archery equipment for hunting purposes but is considered legal bow and arrow equipment for those fish species that may be taken by bow and arrow. In order to avoid unwanted attention from law enforcement, I discourage you from shining your laser on land.


Using rockfish for bait


Question: In a recent column you stated that "Any finfish that is legal to take or possess in California may be used as bait in your lobster hoop net." I assume this rule applies equally to using rockfish as hook and line bait for lingcod, but on my last party boat trip I was prohibited from using a small gopher rockfish for bait by a crewman who insisted that this would be illegal. Is it legal to use a whole rockfish (or a slab cut from a whole rockfish) for hook and line bait? I understand that the bait fish would count toward my limit. (Randy P.)


Answer: Yes, as long as the fish you’re using is legal to catch and keep, and as long as you count it toward your daily bag limit, you can legally use it as bait to attract larger predator fish, such as lingcod, to your hook. If the fish you’ll be using for bait has a size limit, you would need to be sure it was of legal size.


How to find a legitimate hunting guide?


Question: Can you direct me to a legitimate site to book a hunting trip? How can we hunt on government land? What are the costs? (Cheri W.)


Answer: You can find a list of guides licensed through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Guide (click on “Look up licensed hunting and fishing guides) but no recommendations in support of any particular guide or hunting service. Hence, your best bet is to contact other hunters to ask about their experiences in order to help you decide which guide service to go with.


You can hunt on certain government-owned (public) lands in California. Public lands in California are primarily owned, operated and maintained by CDFW, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Department of Defense or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Each of these agencies has developed rules and regulations for the lands they administer. They provide details of which lands are open to public access for outdoor recreational activities (including hunting), and the time of year they are open. Some of these lands are open year-round with no access fees, but some lands are open only certain times of the year with an access fee. Moreover, some public lands are entirely closed to all public use, mostly for protection of certain plant and animal species.


Generally speaking, most big game mammal hunting occurs on CDFW, BLM, Military or Forest Service lands. Small mammal and varmint hunting occurs on BLM and Forest Service lands. Waterfowl and upland game bird hunting occurs on CDFW and USFWS lands.


For the regulations governing the use of CDFW lands, please go to www.wildlife.ca.gov/Lands.


For other land management agencies, please contact them directly for rules or regulations concerning their lands.


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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 Carrie.Wilson@wildlife.ca.gov.


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