Question: What are some of the new sturgeon fishing regulation changes that went into effect Jan. 1? I've heard measurement methods, size limits and methods of take are a few of them. What's new?
Answer: First, sturgeon now must be measured by fork length. That's the straight-line distance from the tip of the head to the center of the tail. The tip of the head is the most anterior point on the fish with the mouth closed and the fish lying flat on its side. No fish less than 40 inches fork length or greater than 60 inches fork length may be taken or possessed.
To catch a sturgeon, you can use only a single barbless hook on a line. Using a snare to assist in landing or killing any sturgeon is prohibited. A snare is a flexible loop made from any material that can be tightened like a noose around any part of the fish.
For more information about white and green sturgeon, go to www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Resources/Sturgeon/. To learn more about new sturgeon regulations, go to https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=58288
Q: My wife and I love the outdoors, but we don't want to break the law. We often drive back roads or dirt roads in and around Butte County armed with only a flashlight and no weapons to view and enjoy wildlife that wouldn't be possible to enjoy in the daylight. Is this legal?
A: Yes, as long as you do not have a method of take gun, bow, snare, etc. with you. You may, however, attract the attention of wildlife officers who are on the lookout for poachers using spotlights to find game. These officers might pull you over and detain you to inspect your vehicle to ensure that you do not have a way of killing an animal. There are also some vehicle code provisions that prohibit the use of a flashlight or headlight on a public highway if it is shone into oncoming traffic or prevents other vehicles from seeing traffic control devices.
Q: I dive and want to collect various marine species to place in a 200-gallon tank at the Boys and Girls Club building in Lompoc. This would be for educational purposes for the children's after-school programs. The fish and invertebrates would be supplied by local divers and fishermen and they would not be undersized. Most species would be released after a brief amount of time. What is the permit fee? How difficult would it be to obtain such a permit? These species would not be for sale.
A: Fish and Game regulations prohibit transporting live finfish from the water where taken, including the ocean. Shellfish are generally not covered by this regulation. However, returning any live fish (including shellfish) into state waters is considered stocking and is illegal, especially if the fish is one that has been kept in a private aquarium where it could pick up a disease. This does not prohibit catch-and-release or the immediate return of undersize fish to the water.
One option, as long as this is truly for educational purposes, you might apply for a scientific collecting permit and be authorized to collect specific species yourself. Go to www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/nongame/research_permit/ to learn more and to see if you qualify.
Otherwise, Fish and Wildlife law provides for individuals who are licensed to collect live fish for the marine aquaria trade to take and to sell certain species of marine animals. This requires you to have a commercial fishing license and, if you use a boat, it has to be registered. The total cost is approximately $1,000 per year. Information regarding the various licenses and fees is available at www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/commercial/commdescrip.html.
One more option you might find practical is to buy fish from a pet store that has gotten the fish from a licensed marine aquaria collector. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife does not keep a master list of such stores, but an online search or review of the phone book might help you find what you are looking for.
Q: I hunt the Napa-Sonoma marsh and have noticed that there are many birds hanging out just outside one of the parking lots off the highway. How far off the highway do I have to be to legally discharge a firearm?
A: Firearms setbacks from highways or public roadways are generally established by local governments. You will need to check with the local jurisdiction, which is usually the Sheriff's Office, regarding distance away from a public roadway. Keep in mind that you can't shoot across any roads and you are not allowed to shoot within 150 yards of any building or structure without the consent of the owner.
Write to: Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov