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Category: Saltwater fishing

Fish and Game Q&A: Can a disabled war veteran hunt with a canine companion?

Injured veteran retired U.S. Army Capt. Leslie Smith with her seeing eye dog Isaac. 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’m a 100% disabled war veteran and have a canine companion dog (yellow lab) that goes with me everywhere as my hearing dog. I lost most of my hearing in the war from enemy fire. Is it legal to take a companion dog turkey or deer hunting? Can my dog go turkey hunting on a leash, not as a hunting dog but as a hearing dog? My dog has never been trained to hunt and he won’t be part of that life. He wouldn’t be chasing game but because he is my second set of ears, can he be used for hearing? (Larry L.)

Answer: Yes, you can use your dog in the situations described. Generally, there’s no prohibition against using dogs (having them with you) while bird hunting, but there is a one dog per hunter limit during general deer season. No dogs are allowed during archery deer season or while hunting with an archery-only tag (California Code of Regulations, section 265).

Q: While bank fishing in the Delta recently, I watched some people nearby land a legal-sized sturgeon. They took some pictures and were about to release the 63-incher when a family came running up and asked if they could keep it for dinner. It appeared to me that the catch-and-release fisherman felt compelled to give it to them, and he did. I could not tell if the sturgeon was properly tagged prior to the transfer of ownership because the family left pretty quickly. I thought I might offer one of my tags as I am also a catch-and-release fisherman who has never landed a sturgeon and would never need three tags, but I am wondering if this would be legal. Not knowing, I decided not to give up my tag. My question is, can someone donate a sturgeon tag to another fisherman? (Rob Grasso)

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Fish and Game Q&A: Is a duck still a duck once it becomes sausage?

Northern Pintail drake.

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: My question is about possession of waterfowl when processed. A friend shot more than 250 ducks in the just-completed waterfowl season, so I asked him if he was breaking the law by having more than 14 ducks in possession. He said no because he had them regularly processed into duck sausage, and once processed they’re considered out of your possession. Is this correct? Another friend saves all his ducks throughout the 100-day duck season and then gives them all to a butcher to process into sausage. He contends if you process the meat through a meat grinder, then it’s not considered part of the possession limit anymore because it’s now processed.

If you smoke your ducks or process them through a meat grinder and put them in your freezer, are they then out of your possession? A clarification of the "in possession" rule would be greatly appreciated. (Mike)

Answer: Your friends are mistaken and could be cited for possessions of overlimits. Generally, the daily bag limit is seven ducks, and the possession limit is two daily bag limits. Possession is defined as "fresh, frozen or otherwise preserved ..." (California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 1.17). Making sausage only preserves the birds; they are still in possession until eaten or given away.

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Fish and Game Q&A: What are the creepy leech-like things in lakes and rivers?

Leech-like organisms often found in lakes and ponds are part of the aquatic food chain, providing food for fish, ducks, turtles and some birds. 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: My daughter and I love to swim and play in waters wherever we find them. While in French Gulch (Shasta County) last year, we decided to play around in Clear Creek. The creek was running pretty high, but when my daughter and I got out we had these black, worm-like things hanging off us. Our first thought was leeches, which got us out of the water quite quickly! Someone told me they were rock worms and wouldn’t hurt us. We haven’t returned there though because we’re still too scared they were leeches.

We also stopped at Eagle Lake (Lassen County) to go swimming and ended up with these tiny little round slime balls on us. When picking up these slimy things in question, they flattened out on our hands and started slithering like a leech across our hands. This was another trip where my daughter and I ran screaming out of the water to rinse off under the faucet! There were lots of people swimming in the lake who either didn’t seem to notice or else knew something we didn’t.

Clear Creek was a very cold creek, but Eagle Lake was very warm, so I could understand Eagle Lake possibly having leeches. Do these leeches suck human blood? Are they harmful to humans in any way? I love the outdoors and swimming, but too many encounters with creepy leech-like things are making me leery about the safety of it. (Kim B.)

Answer: Without pictures, it’s tough to say, but it sounds like you encountered two different invertebrates. According to Department of Fish and Game associate fish pathologist Garry Kelley, the organism at Clear Creek was likely a free-living caddisfly larvae (Genus Rhyacophila), commonly known as a rock worm. This type of caddisfly crawls around rock bottoms in search of food and is commonly eaten by trout. Caddisflies are not at all harmful to humans.

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Fish and Game Q&A: Can I use a camera on my bow to film my hunts?

Archery pro Keli Van Cleave. 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 have heard it is illegal in California to use a camera (such as the Roscoby Riser camera) that mounts onto your bow to film your hunts. Is this true? If so, why? (Shane S.)

Answer: Mounting a camera (with no spotlight) onto your bow is legal. It would only be a problem if it was an electronic device with lights to assist in the taking of game (California Fish and Game Code, section 2005).

Q: We want to go abalone diving and scuba diving on the same day. I know we have to free dive for abalone, but we also want to scuba dive on the same trip. We live away from the coast but can only do a one-day trip, so which one should we do first? How can we do this without getting in trouble with a game warden who might think that we used the scuba for the abalone? (Matthew P.)

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Fish and Game Q&A: May I plant wild turkeys on private land?

Turkey_strut 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 have a few questions about putting Eastern wild turkey poults out on private land. I just love to hunt them. There are turkeys out there already but I would like for there to be a lot more. How or what can be done to get more turkeys planted on the property? (Joe D.)

Answer: Permission will not be granted to any person to release turkeys into the wild that have been domestically reared for propagation or hunting purposes. Only turkeys trapped from the wild by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) may be released into the wild (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 671.6 (b)).

According to DFG turkey program manager Scott Gardner, besides being illegal, releasing captive-reared turkey poults will not ultimately produce more turkeys in the wild, and could actually harm the wild population. Beginning in the 1920s, DFG raised turkeys and other game birds and released them into the wild. By 1951, DFG and other wildlife agencies stopped the practice because it wasn’t resulting in self-sustaining wild populations of turkeys. In 1959, DFG started importing and releasing the Rio Grande subspecies of wild turkeys that were trapped in the wild in Texas. Wild trapped birds were highly successful and virtually all of California’s current wild turkey population came from these releases.

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Fish and Game Q&A: Might it be time to consider a mountain lion hunting season?

Mountain lion 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 am looking for some information on the seriousness of the apparent increase in mountain lion attacks in the news lately. There have been several incidents of bears attacking humans, and we have a bear season. I’m wondering if it might not be time to reconsider having a mountain lion season? I understand that more mountain lions are killed each year now with depredation permits than were ever killed with a mountain lion season.

What can you tell me about the population increase in mountain lions in California in the past 10 years or so? Would it require legislation to overturn the existing law? Would Department of Fish and Game  data support the need for such a reversal? (Bill T.)

Answer: It’s important to note that mountain lion (puma) attacks on humans are very rare. In the last decade, there have been only four confirmed attacks in California, three of which were nonfatal. Though you may be seeing more media coverage of mountain lion attacks on domestic animals, there’s no evidence that the number of these incidents is increasing. While DFG does not formally track the number of domestic animals killed by pumas, we do keep track of the number of depredation permits issued for problem mountain lions. The numbers of depredation permits issued and resulting pumas killed have actually been fewer in recent years, though.

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Texas angler shocked when 375-pound mako shark leaps into boat

Jason Kresse with the 375-pound, 8-foot long mako shark that leapt into his boat. A Texas angler landed a 375-pound mako shark, all without casting a line.

Freeport resident Jason Kresse, 29, and two others were fishing for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico early Monday and were chumming the water with fish parts when they heard some big splashes nearby.

"All of a sudden something hit the side of the boat," Kresse told Associated Press. "He ends up landing on the back of the boat." The "he" was an 8-foot-long mako shark.

No one could even get near the thrashing mako to try to get it back in the water, and the shark ended up dying on board.

The crew didn't have a permit to catch sharks, so Kresse contacted officials on shore. Mike Cox, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department spokesman, said that there was no violation because the shark's death was an accident.

The shark has been put on display at an area seafood company, and Kresse is getting a mount made to go with his amazing fishing tale.

"A fish jumping in your boat, 400 pounds, that's unbelievable," Kresse said.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Jason Kresse with the 375-pound, 8-foot-long mako shark that leapt into his boat. Credit: Jason Kresse via Associated Press

Fish and Game Q&A: What's the limit when fishing catch and release?

An angler with a wild Klamath River steelhead that was soon released. 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: If I fish for trout using a barbless lure and catch five during the day but release them all, is that still considered my limit for the day?

Answer: Fish caught and immediately released do not count toward your daily bag limit unless the fish dies or is not released in a viable condition. If fish are not released, they are counted toward your limit whether you keep them or give them to someone else. Fish that are maintained and later released may also count toward the daily bag limit if they show signs of stress or other indicators they can not swim off in a viable condition. Keep in mind that any fish with a zero bag limit may not be retained or possessed at any time, so these fish must be released immediately no matter what condition they are in upon landing.

Q: I legally shot a black bear last year in California and then took it to a taxidermist in Nevada who was  going to create a bearskin rug for me. Somehow the taxidermist mistakenly gave my bear away to another customer and so then gave me a different bear rug to replace it. This wasn’t a good solution for me though because I don’t want this bearskin from an animal I didn’t take. Can I legally sell it since it was taken in another state? (Anonymous)

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'Meet the Grunion' Monday at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Grunion scramble to get onto the beach to spawn.

The grunion are back in Southern California, and with them comes the return of the "Meet the Grunion" program, Monday evening at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro.

The aquarium exhibit hall will open at 8 p.m., with a film on grunion to be screened at 9 p.m. The cost to attend is $5 for adults and $1 for seniors, children and students. Tickets can be purchased on site, cash only.

Afterward, those who wish to participate will head to the beach to await the spawning run, which has a projected two-hour window of 11:15 p.m. to 1:15 a.m.

Grunion runs are a sight to behold. For four consecutive nights, beginning on full- and new-moon phases during spring and summer, the small silvery fish leave the water to spawn on beaches. The shoreline may glisten with fish as the silversides attempt to lay and fertilize their eggs.

Grunion may only be caught in the months of March, June and July, and only by hand. Catchers 16 and older must possess a valid state fishing license.

There is no limit to the number of fish that may be caught, but the California Department of Fish and Game asks that people only catch what they will eat.

The program will be offered again on April 5 and 19, May 5 and 19, June 3 and 17, and July 16.

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is at 3720 Stephen M. White Drive in San Pedro. Directions and parking information is available on the aquarium's website.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Grunion scramble to get onto the beach to spawn. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

Black sea bass incident lands two men in court

A Newport Beach angler and a boater pleaded guilty Wednesday to an infraction for an incident involving a giant black sea bass caught last year near the Balboa Pier.

The January incident, of which video was posted on YouTube, showed a then-unidentified Jonathan Apothaker dragging the fish onto the sand amid a crowd of cheering and shouting beach-goers in what appeared to be an instance of a good Samaritan rescuing the state-protected species.

Authorities said it was at that point that Apothaker, of Valley Village, broke the law -- black sea bass must be immediately released.

"Once the fish landed on the surface of the water, it was about 40, 45 minutes between the time it was dragged on shore, left on shore and then returned to the water," Orange County Deputy Dist. Atty. Yvette Patko told NBC Los Angeles.

Apothaker, who hooked the fish, maintained his innocence, saying, "I had nothing to do with gaffing the fish, or beating it over the head. The only thing I performed was the rescue."

Boater John Brady, from Huntington Beach, became involved because another video showed him using a hook to try to pull the estimated 150-pound fish nearer to his vessel.

The men had faced up to six months in jail on a charge of misdemeanor possession of a black sea bass. But Orange County Commissioner Richard E. Pacheco agreed to a plea bargain which reduced the violation to an infraction, the Daily Pilot reported.

Each man has been ordered to perform 120 hours of community service cleaning beaches or working for the California Department of Fish and Game.

Though Brady seemed annoyed, saying that "it's the wrong way of making a point. There's other ways of going about it other than wasting taxpayers' dollars on an issue like this," Apothaker seemed to come away with some advice for anglers.

"If you don't know what it is ... just leave it alone and call Fish and Game."

-- Kelly Burgess

Video credit: JoshuaJonesCS via YouTube


Fish and Game Q&A: Is it legal to shoot downed game after shooting time ends?

A hunter and his dog, surrounded by decoys.

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: Five minutes before the end of shooting time I knocked down a snow goose that fell out of range and started swimming. I waded after it in the flooded rice field but couldn’t catch it or get within range until after shooting time ended. In a case like that, do I shoot late or let it go and risk a waste of game citation? Do wardens consider "spirit of the law" as opposed to "letter of the law?" (Jim S.)

Answer: According to Department of Fish and Game assistant chief Mike Carion, if you are "in hot pursuit" of the goose, you should be able to reach it before the end of shoot time, or at least within a minute or two. Bottom line answer is this: It is illegal to take the bird after legal shoot time. If a warden was watching you pursue the game and shoot late, they would use their judgment as to whether a crime was committed. On the other hand, waste of game only applies when a person does not make a reasonable effort to retrieve. If the hunter tries to catch it and it swims off, it is a reasonable effort. Breaking the law is not a reasonable effort. So, if the hunter doesn’t shoot late, no laws are broken!

Q: I just saw some new trout lures containing little glow sticks to attract fish. Someone told me that using light to attract fish is illegal and hence these lures are illegal to use. What do you think? (Shawn A.)

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national survey to begin

Laying the groundwork for a day of duck hunting, Jim Fisher tosses a decoy as his dog, Willow, looks on.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will begin conducting its national survey of fishing, hunting and wildlife-associated recreation and are requesting that hunters, anglers and other wildlife enthusiasts participate if contacted for interviews scheduled to begin April 1.

The information, collected by the U.S. Census Bureau primarily through telephone interviews to be conducted April to June and September to October this year and January to March, 2012, provides the only comprehensive statistical database available on Americans' participation in and spending on hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching in the 50 states.

"We appreciate the anglers, hunters, birdwatchers and other citizens throughout the United States who voluntarily participate in the survey when contacted," said the wildlife service's acting director, Rowan Gould. "The survey results help wildlife and natural resource managers quantify how much Americans value wildlife resources in terms of both participation and expenditures."

The survey, conducted every five years since 1955, will involve 53,000 households from the Census Bureau's master address file. From this information, the bureau will select samples of 19,000 anglers and hunters and 10,000 wildlife watchers and follow up with further detailed questions.

"The last survey published in 2006 revealed 87.5 million Americans enjoyed some form of wildlife-related recreation and spent more than $122.3 billion pursuing their activities," said Hannibal Bolton, assistant director for the service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program. "The survey is a critical information resource for federal and state wildlife agencies, outdoor and tourist industries, local governments, planners, conservation groups, journalists and others interested in wildlife and outdoor recreation."

Participation is voluntary and all responses are confidential. Preliminary survey findings will be available in spring 2012 with final reports issued beginning in the fall, to be posted on the restoration program's Web page.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Laying the groundwork for a day of duck hunting, Jim Fisher tosses a decoy as his dog, Willow, looks on. Credit: Fred Greenslade / Reuters



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About the Bloggers
Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.