California Outdoors for the week of 4/25/2013
Bow hunting for turkeys
Question: While bow hunting for turkeys last week, I saw a flock of hens and jakes on the side of a highway and I got to wondering if it’s legal to hunt off the side of a highway. I know we can’t shoot across a highway, but exactly how many yards or feet away does a bow hunter have to be?
Answer: It is 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)). Definitions for road and roadway can be found in the California Vehicle Code, sections 527 and 530. In addition, most counties have ordinances setting the distance from a public roadway that one must be to lawfully discharge a firearm. Many counties require 150 feet, but this distance varies and you will have to check with the appropriate county’s sheriff’s department to determine the legal distance. It is always unlawful to negligently discharge a firearm, and the discharge of a firearm from or upon a public road or highway is prohibited (California Penal Code, section 374c).
Question: I recently acquired a hand reel (Cuban yoyo.) Are there any restrictions on using one? What part of the Fish and Game Code applies to their usage?
Answer: Yes, these basic hand-held reels are legal to use. Just add some line, tie on your hook, add bait, drop in your line and you’re fishing. It doesn’t get much easier or less expensive than this method. Standard methods apply, so if you are fishing in inland waters (three hooks with bait or three lures with three hooks each) or fishing in the ocean for rockfish (two hooks), you need to follow the hook restrictions as if you had a rod attached. If you do happen to hook a big fish, just be sure you’ll be able to land it!
Starry flounder rules
Question: Can you please clarify the starry flounder regulations in saltwater versus freshwater? I know that flounder are included in the rockfish-cabezon-greenling regulations in saltwater, with limits and a definite season. However, when they move upstream (east) of the Carquinez Bridge into inland waters, do the same regulations still apply? Or may they be taken year-round with no limit as they are not mentioned in the freshwater regulations?
Answer: According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife Capt. Bob Puccinelli, because the freshwater limits for starry flounder are the same as the ocean limits, the limits would adhere to any closures in ocean waters as well. In other words, when there is an ocean closure (zero limit), there would be a corresponding zero limit in freshwater as well.
Squirrels in condor country
Question: I hunt ground squirrels with pellet guns as I understand they don’t fall into the category of firearms. My question is, do I have to use non-lead pellets?
Answer: While not specifically prohibited for pellet guns, the intent of the non-lead ammunition requirement laws is to prevent lead from being introduced into animals that California condors may eat. Ground squirrels could fall into this category but the law does not expressly prohibit lead pellets. Non-lead pellets are available.
Glasses when abalone diving
Question: I wear reading glasses. I don’t like to take my glasses on the beach or in the water with me because I don’t want them to get scratched. However, without my glasses, I cannot clearly read the new abalone cards. Last season I accidentally used the wrong tag (one that was not in sequential order) because I could not read the numbers. What can I do to make this easier?
Answer: I can empathize with your frustrations. You may want to consider including non-prescription reading glasses and/or a small magnifying glass in your dive bag. Either can be purchased at many convenience stores for under $15. At least with these you would not have to risk losing or breaking your prescription glasses and you will be able to comply with the regulations.
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.