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Fish and Game Q&A: Are there rules on the number of fishing rods someone can use for ocean fishing?

Anglers at Redondo Beach Pier.

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: Are there any rules on the numbers of fishing rods someone can use for ocean fishing? I had a bad experience recently with an Orange County sheriff [deputy] who saw me on the Newport Beach jetty fishing with several poles. He told me I was allowed only two poles. I told him I’d seen a sign posted at a nearby pier that said, Maximum limit three active poles." The officer said the pier was not following the Fish and Game rules. I told him I thought what applies there also applies here in Newport since Fish and Game rules apply statewide. I presume sheriffs can’t represent Fish and Game regarding fishing rules and should instead be catching fugitives, bad guys and drug traffickers and not bothering fishermen! I didn’t want to argue with an officer with a gun, especially a sheriff who doesn’t know the rules, but I felt the officer was harassing me. (Dandy L., San Bernardino) 

Answer: Sheriff’s deputies do enforce Department of Fish and Game regulations when they see violations, and in this case, the deputy was correct. When fishing in the ocean from a public pier or jetty, DFG regulations allow for only two rods and lines, two hand lines, or two crab nets, crab traps or other appliances for taking crabs (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.88 specifically describes a jetty as a structure that is "connected to land … and whose purpose is to form the most seaward protective boundary of an ocean harbor"). If the sign on the nearby pier indicated a three-pole maximum, then it was not a sign that was posted or authorized by the state. City regulations can be more restrictive than state DFG regulations, but not less restrictive.

Q: I’ve heard that you need to be a certain distance from highways and roads when hunting. How far away from the roadway do you need to be before shooting?

A: Neither the Fish and Game Code nor the California Penal Code states a specific distance that hunters or shooters need to be from roads. Penal Code section 374(c) most closely addresses this issue as it states, "Every person who shoots any firearm from or upon a public road or highway is guilty of a misdemeanor."

In essence, this section makes it unlawful to discharge a gun from the highway surface. "Highway" as defined in the California Vehicle Code is a road that is "publicly maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel." Bear in mind, however, that local (e.g. county) ordinances may prohibit the discharge of firearms in certain areas or within certain distances of roads and, in general, most cities do not allow shooting within the city limits. You should check with your county sheriff’s office, too.

Certainly the most important factor, regardless of the law, is public safety. Well-traveled roads and highways are not appropriate places to shoot. If you were to injure another person or livestock, or damage property, you would undoubtedly be subject to civil and possibly criminal prosecution. Though shooting just one inch away from a road may be legal, it may not be safe.

Q: A pond on our private duck hunting property was accidentally drained in the last year but has now refilled. Can we have DFG replant it with fish?  (Fishingdude)

A: DFG will only plant fish in public waters that are open and available to the public to enjoy. If this is a private pond, you will need to get a private stocking permit from DFG and then buy fish from a commercial fish farm, which may also stock them for you.

Q: I recently moved to California from Michigan and am wondering if I will be required to take another hunter safety class to be able to hunt here? Also, during archery season, are you able to hunt from a tree stand or an elevated platform? (Noah S.)

A: California has no restrictions against using tree stands. And no, you will not need to take another hunter safety course as long as you can show proof that you have passed a hunter safety class in Michigan. If you cannot produce a certificate or proof, you will need to complete another course to get your hunting license. Information regarding Hunter Education courses in your area is available online.

If you have a question you would like to see answered in this column, e-mail it to [email protected].

Photo: Anglers at Redondo Beach Pier. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

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