California Outdoors

Carrie Wilson
California Department Fish & Game

Lobster fishing from a six-pack boat

Q. I run a six-pack charter boat business and we often hoop net for crab and lobster. My deckhands and I make money by cleaning our passenger’s catch. This includes both rock crab and lobster.

We always wait until we make landfall before we tail the bugs. This year the new regulations say: (e) Spiny lobsters shall be kept in a whole, measurable condition until being prepared for immediate consumption.

What is the definition of immediate consumption? Will I be in violation if I clean the lobsters for my passengers after hitting the dock?

A. Yes, prior to this law, there was a big enforcement problem with people who were already on the shore tailing undersize lobsters before the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) could contact them to measure their catch.

Because lobsters must be measured across the back of their carapace rather than the tail region, this was allowing them to get away with possessing short lobsters when the carapace and tails were separated. This is one of the reasons why this section was changed.

According to DFG Lieutenant Eric Kord, captain of the San Diego-based patrol vessel Thresher, by the letter of the law, prepared for immediate consumption means cooked and on a plate ready to be eaten immediately. Or in the case of sushi, it means ready to be eaten immediately raw on a dinner plate.

He advises not cleaning or tailing the lobsters for your passengers, as it doing so would be a violation.

If they were stopped by a game warden on the way to their car they would be cited for illegal possession of tails under this section.

Kord suggests the following: You may want to consider preparing them a different way, like perhaps putting the lobster in a container with some ice where the melting ice water can drain out of the container and not drown the lobster, or maybe keep them loosely wrapped/covered in a moist, saltwater towel.

By doing this, your customers can enjoy fresh lobsters when they get home or they can just freeze them.

If the folks have a long way to drive, I would consider putting them in a wood box with wood shavings. Lobsters are imported from Mexico in this way and survive a surprisingly long time.

I personally use ice packs in a cooler when I transport my lobsters a long way. I have left them overnight like that with the cooler lid cracked and they are still quite alive in the morning.

You could also de-vein the lobsters, bleed them and then freeze them on the boat in a whole condition (carapace still attached to the tail).

At the end of your trip, you can hand the passengers their frozen bugs for their rides home and they are already somewhat cleaned. Then they just snap the tails off when they get ready to eat them at home.


Marmot hunting

Q. A friend and I have been invited by some ranchers and farmers in the Klamath Basin area of Northern California to hunt ground squirrels and marmots on their property.

Since we will be on private property, my friends are not sure if we will need a license.

Where would I find any applicable regulations?

A: Ground squirrels and marmots are “nongame” mammals under Fish and Game law. Recreational take of any nongame mammals requires hunters to possess a current hunting license.

There are a few license exemptions that allow for the taking of nongame mammals that are damaging property, but in the situation you describe, a hunting license would be required.


Kayak fishing with a landing net?

Q. After carefully reading the saltwater fishing regulations I’m convinced that I need to carry a net while I’m out bobbing the bays in my float tube.

Here’s the pertinent language from page 51 (section 28.65): “No person shall take finfish from any boat or other floating device in ocean waters without having a landing net in possession or available for immediate use to assist in landing undersize fish of species having minimum size limits; the opening of any such landing net shall be not less than eighteen inches in diameter.”

Does this apply to a float tube, too?

A: Yep!


Clarifying a load gun?

Q: Please clarify the definition of “loaded” gun that you gave in a recent column.

By DFG law, is it OK to have the clip or magazine loaded if no round is chambered?

A. Yes. Under DFG law a gun is loaded when there is a live round in the firing chamber but not when there are rounds just in the magazine.

Penal code laws are more restrictive though when you’re on a public road or in an incorporated area.


Carrie Wilson is a 20-year DFG veteran and an avid outdoor enthusiast, angler and hunter. She is a marine biologist with a strong background of professional experience working in both fisheries and wildlife management.

An established and award-winning outdoor writer, Carrie enjoys tackling the tough questions from the public and will be regularly tapping into the expertise of DFG’s game wardens and many fisheries, wildlife and marine biologists to best cover all the topics.

While she can’t personally answer everyone’s questions she will select a few to answer in this column each week. Contact her at




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