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Fish and Game Q&A: Can someone be cited for the inadvertent stomach contents of their catch?

February 4, 2010 |  2:34 pm

A lingcod caught during a boat trip out of the Marina Del Rey.

In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday afternoon or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: Can someone be cited for the inadvertent stomach contents of their catch? As an example, a typical cabezon belly might contain a couple of 3-inch abalone, crabs and/or octopus. Is it a violation to have the abalone (and crabs and octopus if it is in a no-invertebrate take zone) in possession? Another example would be a ling with a big rockfish in his belly. Could the stomach contents place you over the 10-fish RCG complex (rockfish, cabezon and greenlings) possession limit? (Craig G.)

Answer: This situation would be the same as if you caught an undersized or prohibited species unintentionally while fishing. According to Lt. Dennis McKiver, you are required to discard or return to the sea any prohibited species as soon as you discover you have caught a prohibited species. Although you would not be required to remove and inspect the stomach contents of all fish you catch to make sure the fish did not contain a prohibited species, if the fish regurgitates a prohibited species you would not be allowed to retain possession of that prohibited species. You must return it to the ocean even if it is dead.

In your last example, it would be the same as if you had 10 rockfish in possession and continued to fish for lingcod. If you caught a rockfish, you would have an over-limit and would be required to return it to the ocean. Let’s say you were legally fishing for lingcod with two hooks and you caught a lingcod on one hook and a rockfish on the other. You would be required to return the rockfish if you already had a limit in possession. If you are fishing for rockfish and lingcod and you catch a lingcod that contains a rockfish and then you choose to keep the rockfish from the ling’s stomach in your possession, that rockfish becomes part of your rockfish bag limit.

A similar problem occurs when anglers catch surf perch, a species that carries live young. During their spawning season, a caught fish may discharge their young as they die or when handled. The angler may then be in possession of more than the 10-surf perch limit of one species, but wardens clearly understand this biological phenomenon.

Q: Every waterfowl season, whenever there are heavy rains and flooding, the question comes up as to whether we can hunt lands that are temporarily inundated with floodwaters. Can we lawfully go into an area that has been traditionally posted but is now flooded? (Steve B.)

A: According to Capt. Mark Lucero, you can lawfully pass into flooded areas as long as you are not in violation of Section 2016 of the Fish and Game Code, which is the hunter trespass section. This section says that if an area is posted with signs forbidding trespass that are displayed at intervals not less than three to the mile along all exterior boundaries and at all roads and trails entering such lands, then a person may not hunt this property even if the land is temporarily inundated by floodwaters.

Q: I have a second-rod stamp. Does this allow me to catch five fish (trout) per rod or is it per person? (Anthony M.)

A: The second-rod stamp allows only for a person in inland waters to fish two rods concurrently. The bag limit remains the same. Fishing two rods just helps you to maybe catch your bag limit quicker! When fishing for trout, make sure you’re not fishing in an area with special regulations requiring only artificial lures, barbless hooks or catch-and-release because the second-rod stamp would not be allowed in those areas.

Q: I have a question about whether my son is still eligible to hunt the special federal youth waterfowl hunt. He was 15 when the season began but just turned 16 in December. We usually hunt at a club in the Suisun Bay. (Joe P.)

A: Unfortunately, the Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days regulations state that “youth hunters must be 15 years of age or younger” at the time the hunt is conducted. I’m afraid your son has outgrown this particular hunting opportunity.

If you have a question you would like to see answered in this column, e-mail it to CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

Photo: A lingcod caught during a boat trip out of Marina del Rey. Credit: Stefano Paltera / For The Times