Fish and Game Q&A: When spearfishing, what's the best way to kill fish quickly to minimize pain?
In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:
Question: I’d like to try spearfishing for halibut. If I do find a nice one, can you tell me the best way to quickly kill the fish when I get to it in order to minimize any pain? There must be some spot on the fish where by using a knife, I can quickly kill it with the least suffering. (Justin M, San Diego)
Answer: A well-placed shot with a spear will immobilize a halibut fairly quickly and is probably the most efficient means of killing the fish. According to Department of Fish and Game associate marine biologist Ed Roberts, most spear fishermen do not need to dispatch their fish after retrieving them as the actual shot usually does so. To minimize the struggle and ethically kill your halibut, direct your shots to the spine or brain. On those occasions when you may need to dispatch a halibut or other "round" fish (as opposed to a "flat" fish), bring it to the boat and strike the fish on the top of the head, in between the eyes, with a blunt instrument like a "fish billy" rather than with a knife. Trying to do so with a knife on a small boat can be dangerous.
Is putting that much blood in the water a good idea? I’ll leave that up to you, but remember that the sound waves created by the struggling, wounded fish may attract the attention of other large predatory fish. Remember too that many of these predators have highly developed sensory systems, and these sensations will probably travel farther and quicker through the water than will the blood.
Q: I understand the Eurasian collared dove is an invasive species and there is no limit on them during dove season. I recently noticed a pair of them nesting by my house. Should I destroy them or let them be? (Gene E., Winton, Calif.)
A: Though Eurasian collared doves are invasive, you should let them be. During the hunting season, there is no bag limit on them, but that is the only period of time when they can be legally taken. In addition, Section 3503 of the Fish and Game Code states it is unlawful to needlessly destroy the nest or eggs of any bird.
Q: Can I fish two poles in Tomales Bay or fish any bay as long as I have the second rod stamp? (Rick)
A: In San Francisco and San Pablo bays, you can only use one fishing line with no more than three separate hooks or lures. When fishing from a boat, fishing is restricted to daylight hours only (one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset). While fishing from public piers inside San Francisco and San Pablo bays, you cannot use more than two rods and lines, two hand lines, or two nets, traps or other appliances used to take crabs.
In ocean waters other than San Francisco and San Pablo bays, you may use as many poles as you can attend to for many species, but single-pole restrictions apply to some species such as salmon and rockfish. The second-pole stamp only applies when fishing in fresh water.
Q: A turkey-hunting friend who lives in Vallejo but has a getaway home above Placerville shot his first turkey last weekend. We know that leaving the beard on to identify the gender is the law, but how about removing the beard at the Placerville location? Is it legal to remove the beard where he cleaned the bird, or did it need to be left intact until he got home to Vallejo? I have a feeling the latter but need clarification. (Bill A., San Pablo, Calif.)
A: During the spring hunting season, the beard must be left on to establish that the turkey is legal. It should be maintained on the bird for identification purposes during transportation to its final destination or until it is prepared for immediate consumption. During the fall season, either sex may be taken so the beard is not required.
If you have a question you would like to see answered in this column, e-mail it to CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.Photo: Nathan Stewart, of Rancho Cucamonga, used plastic squid lures to land this 22-inch halibut, 2 inches shy of the legal limit. He released it, but he gets to keep this picture. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times