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.
Blue Crabs in Mission Bay?
Question: I have seen what appears to be blue crabs in the Mission Bay area of San Diego that look like crabs normally found in the southern U.S. What are these? What is the limit, size and permitted way of catching them in California? I cannot seem to find it in the handbook. (Don F.)

portunusxanthusiltravisbuck
BLUE SWIMMING CRAB. 
CDFW photo by Travis Buck


Answer: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has received several reports of blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus, in the Mission Bay area of San Diego. However, none of the reports thus far have been substantiated. According to CDFW Marine Environmental Scientist Travis Buck of San Diego, the crabs you have seen are most likely Portunus xantusii (swimming crab), which are native to Southern California and resemble the East Coast/Gulf of Mexico blue crab.


To harvest these crabs, you will need a California sport fishing license with an ocean enhancement stamp. There is no closed season or minimum size limit, the bag limit is 35 and these crabs may be taken by hand or with a hoop net. No more than five hoop nets may be used per person from a boat and no more than two per person from a pier or jetty. There is a maximum of 10 hoop nets per vessel. Also, divers may not possess any hooked devices while diving for crustaceans, including crabs.


Regulations for these crabs fall under section 29.05, “general regulations for invertebrates,” and 29.80, “gear restrictions for crustaceans,” found on pages 46, 49 and 50 in the current Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.


Can Drones Be Used to Find and Track Wildlife?


Question: A discussion came up at our rod and gun club the other day about whether there are any official regulations or restrictions regarding hunters using drones to assist in locating and tracking big game and/or other wildlife. I personally can’t believe they would be legal to use but none of us have ever heard any official determination on this subject one way or another. With deer season in full swing and more people now owning drones, I shudder to think that these increasingly sophisticated aerial contraptions might be used by other hunters for wildlife surveillance and even possibly for the driving or tracking of animals that they are hunting. Or conversely, what about anti-hunters using them to spook wildlife and disrupt hunters while they are tracking and stocking their animals? What is the official word on this issue? (Anonymous)


Answer: It is unlawful to use a drone to assist in taking wildlife as you describe, and it would be unlawful to harass legal hunters with a drone (Fish and Game Code, section 2009). It is also unlawful for any person to “… use any motorized, hot-air, or unpowered aircraft or other device capable of flight or any earth orbiting imaging device to locate or assist in locating big game mammals 48 hours before and continuing until 48 hours after any big game hunting season in the same area” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 251).


Drone owners/pilots should also keep in mind that additional legislation is currently being considered that may further restrict the use of drones in different public and private areas. Drones are already prohibited in National Parks and that list may soon grow, so stay tuned.


Crayfish trap limits?


Question: Had a question about crawfishing that no one can seem to answer for me. My questions are how many traps are allowed per person with a fishing license? I have been told that it’s a limit of 2 but when I look into the California Fish and Game for 2015-2016 Handbook it doesn’t say anything about how many traps are allowed. (William P., Lemoore)


Answer: Crayfish may be harvested year round with a sportfishing license (except for closures listed below) and there are no limits on the number you can possess or take home. Regarding methods of take, crayfish may be taken only by hand, hook and line, dip net or with traps. There is no limit on number of traps, however, they may not be over three feet in greatest dimension. Any other species taken must be returned to the water immediately. Traps need not be closely attended.


For a list of those areas closed to harvest in order to protect the Shasta crayfish, please refer to section 5.35(d) on page 21 of the 2015-2016 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet. In addition, crayfish may not be used for bait in sections of the Pit River (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 4.30). The season closures in Chapter 3 (District Trout and Salmon Special Regulations) do not apply to crayfish fishing with methods other than hook and line (see sections 7.00 and 7.50(a)(2)).


Multi-day trip for abalone


Question: I'm a rock picker for red abalone. Because of long distance driving I plan to go for a two-day trip. With daily limits of three, I would get three on the 1st day and another three on the 2nd day before driving home. I will then have six abalone in possession. Would this be legal? (Henry)


Answer: No. The bag limit is also the possession limit. You may only legally possess up to three red abalone. You would have to eat or give away all or part of your first day's limit before you picked more abalone on a subsequent day.


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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.


Rainbow Trout in Anadromous Waters
Question: I have taken up fly fishing again after a long while away. This past weekend I went fishing on the Russian River and caught two rainbows/steelhead (one a hatchery fish and the other a wild fish) and both were about 10 inches long. I am wondering if I have to report fish of that size on my Steelhead Report Card in the future. I recorded them this time out of an abundance of caution, but I don't want to over-inflate the run estimates needlessly. (Kyle K., Healdsburg)

rainbowtrout
RAINBOW TROUT.  CDFW photo by CDFW

Answer: It can be a bit confusing because steelhead trout and rainbow trout are the same fish. Its scientific name is Oncorhynchus mykiss (O. mykiss). Generally speaking, rainbow trout are O. mykiss found in land-locked freshwater with no access to the ocean, while steelhead trout are O. mykiss fish found in anadromous waters, which are waters with unimpeded access to the ocean where they live the majority of their life before returning to freshwater to spawn.


For practical purposes and to facilitate compliance, fishing regulations differentiate between rainbow and steelhead in anadromous waters by a 16-inch size threshold. O. mykiss smaller than 16-inches are treated as rainbow trout, and those bigger than 16-inches are treated as steelhead. Fishing for steelhead, meaning any O. mykiss in excess of 16-inches, in anadromous waters will require the purchase of a Steelhead Report Card, even if you practice catch-and-release (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 5.88).


The report card provides important data to fishery scientists and requires an entry for each day that you fish and statistics on all fish caught and released. Fishing for O. mykiss less than 16-inches does not require a steelhead report card.


Can other law enforcement agencies enforce CDFW regulations?


Question: I am a current sworn recruit in a Southern California Sheriff’s Department Academy. I will be working in a county with a heavy hunting and fishing population and an abundance of wildlife areas. I am just curious, and have been earnestly trying to find the answer on my own accord without luck, about a specific phrase in Fish and Game Code, section 2012. It states:


§ 2012. All licenses, tags, and the birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians taken or otherwise dealt with under this code, and any device or apparatus designed to be, and capable of being, used to take birds, mammals, fish, reptiles or amphibians shall be exhibited upon demand to any person authorized by the department to enforce this code or any law relating to the protection and conservation of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles or amphibians.


My question is: who are the persons authorized by the department to enforce this code or any law relating to the protection and conservation of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles or amphibians? Are local police and county sheriffs authorized by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to enforce the Fish and Game Code? If it does exist, is there any statute that expresses that authority? (Calen A., M.A.)


Answer: Only CDFW wildlife officers are authorized to enforce the “exhibit upon demand” authority of Fish and Game Code, section 2012. Police officers and county sheriffs are authorized to enforce most hunting and fishing laws but are not authorized to enforce Fish and Game Code Section 2012.


Aside from CDFW wildlife officers, only Rangers and Lifeguards of the Department of Parks and Recreation are authorized to use that law, and then only while on duty in a state park, state beach, state recreation area, state underwater park, state reserve, or other similar facility. Although other law enforcement officers can’t make a formal demand under section 2012 to see someone’s licenses, fish, game, or equipment, they can still enforce fish and game laws and inspect these items if they are in plain view or with the person’s consent.


Discharging a firearm along public roadway


Question: As a firearms instructor and hunting enthusiast, I am continually asked the question, “When hunting and on foot (outside of a vehicle), can you discharge a firearm or other weapon (e.g. compound bow) from or along a public roadway?” Is there a minimum distance from a public roadway? For example, an inhabited structure or barn at 150 yards away? (Don S., Fresno)


Answer: It unlawful to discharge a firearm or release an arrow or crossbow bolt over or across any public road or other established way open to the public in an unsafe and reckless manner (Fish and Game Code, section 3004(b)). Discharging a firearm from or upon a public road or highway is also prohibited (Penal Code, section 374c). In addition, it is a felony to willfully discharge a firearm in a grossly negligent manner that could injure another person (Penal Code, section 246.3). Many cities and counties have also adopted ordinances further restricting where firearms may be fired, so hunters should consult their local law enforcement agency for specific information about the area where they wish to shoot.


Halibut fishing in SF Bay


Question: If I’m trolling for halibut in the San Francisco Bay, can I use another line that has only dodgers and flashers on it without any hooks to attract the fish closer to my boat? I will only have one pole or line with a hook on it. (J.V., Rodeo)


Answer: Yes.


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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.


Which fish can be filleted at sea?
Question: I need to get the straight answer regarding filleting game fish while on a boat. In the ocean/bay waters, do I need to keep stripers and leopard sharks intact until I get home or can I keep the fillets in one piece with a one inch or more square of skin left on each fillet? Also, are the rules different for inland waters regarding the filleting of fish? (Howard A.)

fishfillet
ONLY CERTAIN OCEAN fish species are allowed to be filleted at sea. Please check the 2015 Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet for an outline of which species may be filleted while at sea, and which may not. PHOTO BY CARRIE WILSON

Answer: You can find an outline of which species may be filleted at sea while on a boat and which may not under section 27.65(b) and (c) on pages 33-34 in the Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet. Only those listed as allowed to be filleted can be filleted. Striped bass and leopard sharks are not on this list and so may not be filleted at sea.


Section 27.65(c): Fish That May Not be Filleted, Steaked or Chunked: No person shall fillet, steak or cut into chunks on any boat or bring ashore as fillets, steaks or chunks the following: any species with a size limit unless a fillet size is otherwise specified in these regulations. California halibut may be filleted or brought ashore as fillets south of Point Arena (Mendocino County).


Since the regulations specify minimum lengths for stripers (18 inches total) and leopard sharks (36 inches total), but no fillet lengths, neither species can be filleted while on a boat or brought ashore as fillets, steaks or chunks.


There are no provisions allowing for filleting fish in inland waters or for possessing fillets on a boat in inland waters. To do so would be a violation of Fish and Game Code, sections 5508 and 5509.


Hunting with a .22 caliber rim fire in a lead free zone?


Question: I was wondering if you could still hunt with lead .22 caliber rimfire in a lead free zone. I've been looking for lead free .22 caliber rimfire rounds and its very slim pickins out there. (Cory S.)


Answer: Although the availability of nonlead ammunition may be improving with time, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recognizes it can still be hard to find some calibers. It will take additional planning to participate in hunts where nonlead ammunition is required. We encourage hunters who intend to participate in these hunts to plan well ahead to be sure they have legal ammunition. There are a number of lead free .22 rimfire rounds that are manufactured, and stores in the California condor range may be most likely to have them in stock. We recommend searching on the Internet and calling ahead to local retailers. Remember that .22 rimfire is only legal to use when hunting small game and nongame animals. Current law does not require use of nonlead ammunition when taking rabbits or tree squirrels, unless you are hunting on CDFW lands, but nonlead ammunition will be required statewide for all hunting beginning July 1, 2019.


About Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) web map


Question: I read a journal article recently about California’s Marine Protected Areas (MPA) but cannot locate a website showing exactly where the MPAs are. Do you have anything posted online where I can go or something you can send me? (Jamie)


Answer: Printed marine protected area (MPA) guidebooks are available via some of the same vendors that sell fishing licenses so that you can easily obtain them (see www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/mpa/guidelocations.asp). If you have problems finding a guidebook, please contact your local CDFW office and ask them to send you one.


If you like the utility of Google Maps, you might appreciate MarineBIOS (see http://map.dfg.ca.gov/marine/) a map that you can use to zoom in close on marine protected areas to get a fix on the boundaries. MarineBIOS lets you choose your "basemap." You can use satellite imagery, a street map or other basemaps, whatever makes the most sense for your situation. (Click on the green basemaps button in the upper left-hand corner of the screen to access these options).


If you have a smartphone or other mobile device with GPS capability, you can use the map on MPAmobile (www.dfg.ca.gov/m/MPA/) to show you where you are in relation to any MPAs, and you can look up information on individual MPAs.


All of this information and more is available online at (www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/mpa/). On this web page, in the Popular Resources box to the right, you'll find the top four big blue buttons lead you to these resources, so these should help you learn where California's marine protected areas are.


A new Marine Management News blog post also describes resources you can use to learn about MPAs (see https://cdfwmarine.wordpress.com/2015/06/02/mpa-maps/). If all else fails, you can email your MPA questions to AskMPA@wildlife.ca.gov and we will be glad to assist you.


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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.


Shouldn’t Wildlife Officers Display Badges?
Question: During the 2015 Eastern Sierra Trout Opener, I was checked three times by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) wardens for license and barbless hooks. I was in compliance each time. On the three contacts the wardens were wearing jackets and hats that did not have any CDFW insignias or badges on them. On two occasions the wardens stated that they were wardens and I could see radio and gun holsters sticking out from under their jackets. They did not show me any credentials or badge. On the other contact the warden pulled open his jacket collar and showed me his lieutenant bars.

My question is what citizen rights do I have to ask to see a badge or credential during a contact, and what is the policy of CDFW for displaying and showing proper credentials when making a contact, not just telling me he's a warden? I understand the need to be "undercover" before making a contact, but once the contact is made I think more than just saying you are a warden would be necessary. After the third contact where the warden showed me lieutenant bars, this lack of identification was getting a little old and I believe unprofessional. I had no way of identifying these wardens by name or badge number. (Michael M.)


easternsierratroutopener
ANGLERS FISHING IN the popular Owens River Valley during the Eastern Sierra trout opener weekend. Photo by Carrie Wilson

Answer: You have every right to ask to see their credentials. As I’m sure you know, the Eastern Sierra Trout Opener is a very popular event that draws tens of thousands of anglers to the area during that weekend, and you were fishing in a high contact area, so it’s not unusual that you were contacted by wildlife officers, even multiple times. And because that area is so open and highly visible, and because people are easily seen from a long distance away, wildlife officers often wear a cover shirt over their uniforms and a fishing hat to better blend in and look like another angler so that they can more easily watch everyone without being immediately detected. Our goal is to encourage compliance even when anglers don’t see a wildlife officer in the area.


However, if you were uncomfortable with the contact(s) because you could not be sure the person really was a wildlife officer, by all means, you have the right to ask them, or any peace officer who is contacting you in a law enforcement capacity, for their identification. That is definitely a reasonable request and the wildlife officer should not mind showing you their credentials upon request.


By the way, I spoke to the wildlife officer who likely contacted you (at least one of the times!). He welcomed your comments and wanted me to encourage you to request to see his credentials next time and he will be happy to show them to you.


Rifle silencers for a hunter with substantial hearing loss?


Question: I have substantial hearing loss and my doctor recommended surgery to correct my problem. The issue is that my hearing will be very sensitive to noise afterwards and so shooting a rifle could actually damage it greatly. I am wondering if, when hunting, can an exception be made to allow me to use a silencer on my rifle? (Carlos)


Answer: Unfortunately, the answer is no. It is a felony to possess silencers, except for law enforcement and military purposes (California Penal Code, section 33410). Your best bet is to wear hearing protection while hunting. There are many choices out there and some actually enhance your ability to hear ambient noise while minimizing any loud noises, such as gunshots. Wildlife officers use this type of hearing protection during firearms training.


Ab in a Cab?


Question: I found a sub-legal abalone shell in the stomach of a legally caught cabezon. Is a small abalone shell like this legal to possess? My wife likes it and I want her to know it’s legal to possess. (Ken K.)


Answer: Yes!


How many fishing rods in possession at one time?


Question: How many fishing rods can be in one’s possession? I have a second rod stamp but want to know if I can carry more than two rods with me? Although I may be on foot fishing from the bank, I see anglers on the bass tourney TV shows fishing while still having several rods on their boats. What advice do you have? (Joe P., Red Bluff)


Answer: The number of rods in your possession is not the issue, it is the number of lines that you have in the water fishing at one time. You may have as many rods as you wish in your possession – just make sure to use only the number allowed for the species of fish or for the particular waters that you’re 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.


Is a Fish Caught on Another Angler’s Line Legal to Keep?
Question: I am hoping you can resolve a question that came up in one of our recent fishing club meetings. On a recent trip to Lake Isabella, I caught a very nice rainbow trout (18 inches long!). The way it was caught is the subject of debate within our club. I was fishing on a pontoon boat and when I landed the fish, it wasn’t on my hook. Apparently, the fish had been hooked by someone else previously, and broke off. I don’t know who or when, but when I reeled the fish in it had a couple of feet of the previous fishing line, with a hook and split shot still attached to it. The previous angler’s hook was still hooked into the fish’s mouth. Somehow the split shot and old line became tangled in my tackle. The fish was landed after a brief fight, netted and added to my bag limit. The question is: Is this considered a legally caught fish? We await your response. (Luiz D.)

manfishingfromkayak
USFWS photo

Answer: No fish may be retained that did not voluntarily take the bait or lure into its mouth (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 2.00(c)). Although you accidentally snagged the broken off line from a previous angler, you may have saved that fish from an otherwise slow death. If that old line had instead gotten hung up on a rock or bush, preventing the fish from freely moving around, the fish could have died of a lack of gill movement or starvation. Since your fish had taken an angler’s bait or lure into its mouth, it was legal to keep. The intention of angling is that the fish take a hook in its mouth, and this was accomplished.


If you had instead snagged this fish by impaling or attempting to impale it in any part of its body other than the mouth by use of a hook, hooks, gaff, or other mechanical implements, this would have been illegal (CCR Title 14, section 2.00(b)). This does not include the lawful use of a gaff to land the fish.


Which firearms and ammo can be used for night hunting?


Question: I am having trouble finding a specific section related to which firearms you are allowed to hunt with at night. Word of mouth has always been that only rimfire rifles and shotguns may be used at night. I know that in other states you can use a regular centerfire rifle so I am wondering if we can also use them here. If not, are we only allowed rimfire and shotguns? Also, are there any exceptions for mounting a flashlight to a gun? (Taylor F.)


Answer: If you are in an area where night hunting is legal, you may only take nongame mammals and furbearers. Night hunting is restricted to the method of take allowed for these animals (under CCR Title 14, section 475). You are not restricted related to the use of rimfire, centerfire or shotgun except you may only use and possess non lead ammunition in the condor zone and when hunting on state-owned lands.


For regulations on the use of lights, please check the California Mammal Hunting Regulations booklet at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations (CCR Title 14, section 264 on page 18 and Fish and Game Code, section 2005 on page 20).


Why is abalone season closing during July?


Question: Just curious, why is abalone season closed in July? (Ashton H.)


Answer: The July break in abalone season was instituted to help conserve the resource. Originally, a two-month summer closure was proposed for the recreational abalone season, but it was reduced to one month - July - to avoid the possible negative economic impacts on North Coast areas that rely on tourism. Because weather and ocean conditions are usually better in July, and many people take vacations and visit the North Coast at that time, July was chosen as the summer month to give abalone a "break" from the heavy take that occurs during the summer. This measure is to help California’s red abalone population remain a healthy resource.


Where’s the best beach to watch a grunion run?


Question: Where is the best beach to take my son to in Southern California to see the grunion run? I realize it’s a bit of a guess but I would really like him to see them. Do you have any educated guesses? (Jeffrey D.H.)


Answer: You are correct that it really is anyone’s guess where grunion will run ashore since just about any sandy beach in Southern California is fair game to the grunion! But, for a list of known grunion beaches, please visit our Amazing Grunion web page at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/grunion.asp#hunter (look under Best Locations). Best of luck! I hope you and your son are able to see a grunion run!


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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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