California Outdoors for the week of 6/13/2012

Carrie Wilson
California Department of Fish and Game

Crew fishing limits

Question: A Southern California fishing website posted about an angler catching three white sea bass, and there’s a photograph clearly showing the angler in possession of three white sea bass. The story goes on to say the angler gave two away to other fishermen. Since the limit on this particular species is one, I am wondering if the angler is in violation. The captain of the boat said the anglers catch was legal because, he said, after limits have been reached by the passengers, it is permissible for them to keep fishing and catch the crew’s limit of fish. Is this true?

—Curtis F.

Answer: If the angler was fishing on a commercial passenger fishing vessel, or party boat, and she gave the fish to other anglers who had not filled their limits prior to exiting the boat, she was not in violation. Regarding the crew’s limit, the captain was wrong. Passengers cannot legally catch fish under the limits allowed for the captain and crew. The captain and crew must keep their fish separate from fish caught by passengers.

The regulation on this reads: “The vessel operator(s) and crew members are not passengers and may not take fish towards obtaining boat limits for passengers except for casting, setting trolling gear, gaffing or netting fish, but may take fish during a fishing trip for their personal use only. Vessel operator(s) and crew members may assist passengers in other activities including, but not limited to, obtaining bait, chumming, baiting and untangling hooks and lines, identifying, dispatching, filleting, counting, bagging and otherwise handling fish taken by passengers. Upon completion of a fishing trip, the vessel operator(s) and crew members may only possess fish that are part of their own personal bag limit not to exceed authorized sport fishing daily bag and possession limits. (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 195 (e)(1))


Trail cameras, tree stands

Question: I am a new deer hunter and am trying to make sure I am doing things correctly. What are the regulations for trail cameras and tree stands on Bureau of Land Management and National Forest lands? As far as big game goes, I only archery hunt. I have never bagged anything so was just making sure I don’t do anything wrong. Also, what about the climbing spikes or ladders for tree stands?


Answer: There are no laws prohibiting the use of trail cameras or tree stands in California. Similarly, DFG regulations do not prohibit the use of tree spikes or ladders. However, federal land agencies or local ordinances may prohibit climbing spikes because of the potential for damage to the tree’s cambium layer, which in turn can lead to disease. You should check local ordinances and any restrictions with the appropriate federal agencies.


Stamp for juvenile angler

Question: Can you tell me what the law is concerning a person under the age of 16 who does not require a fishing license? Are they allowed to use two rods while fishing?

—Floyd B.

Answer: Every person 16 years of age or older must have a valid fishing license in possession in order to fish or take fish (FGC section 7145(a). For those under 16 years of age, no fishing license or second rod stamp is required.


Bucks and Bulls contest

Question: My company would like to have a contest called Bucks and Bulls in one of our California locations. The contest would be open to all legally harvested deer and elk taken in California in 2012 and broken into various categories such as youth, women, archery, etc. Awards would be given to the largest buck and bull in each category. Is this sort of contest legal in California and can you point me in the right direction to research the laws and regulations?

—Brian N.

Answer: It is generally illegal to offer a prize for taking game, but there is an exception in Fish and Game Code section 2003(d) allowing for contests where the total value of all prizes is less than $500.


Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. She will select a few questions to answer each week. Contact her at

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