Outdoors: Oh, deer! Careful when beach hunting

October 15, 2013 

Q: I've heard deer and elk are occasionally spotted on a beach in a remote area of Northern California. This beach stretches for several miles and I'm planning to hike it beginning from a public access point. During deer and elk season, what are the regulations regarding hunting from the beach? I will have a harvest tag for the appropriate area and know not to shoot over water or within 150 yards of a dwelling. I believe the State of California owns everything from the mean high tide water line out to three miles, so if it were a low tide, and a deer or elk happened to be below the mean high tide line, could I technically take a shot? Although it's not likely this scenario would occur, I am curious about the legal and ethical nature of this scenario.

— Katie H.

Answer: There are no California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) laws prohibiting this, but there could be local firearms closures in place. To determine if firearms or archery equipment would be legal to possess and use in the area you're interested in hunting, you should contact the local sheriff (if an unincorporated area) or the local police department (if an incorporated area) to confirm. Also, these beaches may very likely be managed by either State Parks (where hunting is prohibited) or Bureau of Land Management (who may have restrictions on hunting near trails, camps and beaches). Therefore, you should also contact the local agency having jurisdiction over where you plan to hunt to be sure hunting is authorized there.

Q: If we are fishing on a boat in Monterey, how many fishing rods are allowed? If we already have rockcod aboard, do I need to use one rod? Can I use two rods to target lingcod or halibut if we don't have rockcod? Can I still use a second rod for bait fishing if rockcod are aboard?

— Kenual L.

A: Generally, any number of hooks and lines may be used in ocean waters and bays, but there are exceptions involving certain locations and specific species of fish. When pursuing rockfish, lingcod, cabezon, kelp or rock greenlings, or salmon north of Point Conception, or when any of these species are aboard or in possession, only one line with not more than two hooks may be used (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.65(c)). When rockfish are aboard, you may not use a second rod even if for bait fishing. Instead, plan to fish for bait before fishing for these species. Anglers should read section 28.65 on page 46 of the 2013-2014 Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet before fishing with multiple hooks or lines.

Q: I'm planning to head to Refugio Beach in Santa Barbara to do some crabbing. What do I need to get to trap crabs in the water about 100 yards out? What traps can I use since I'm not a commercial fisherman?

— Robert M.

A: Crab traps are illegal south of Point Arguello (north of Refugio State Beach), so you may not use traps there. However, you can take crabs by hand or hoop net (CCR Title 14, section 29.80). Hoop nets must be serviced every two hours. You will need a sport fishing license (unless you go on a Free Fishing Day www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/fishing/freefishdays.html), a measuring gauge to measure the crab and hoop net(s). Since lobster season is currently open, if you catch a California spiny lobster, then as long as you have lobster report card in your possession and the lobster meets the size requirements, you can take lobsters by hoop net also.

Q: I was wondering if you can harvest crayfish by free diving for them in lakes and streams using only your hands.

— Eddie R.

A: Yes. Crayfish may be taken only by hand, hook and line, dip net or with traps not over three feet in greatest dimension (CCR Title 14, section 5.35). Most crayfish have no limit and the season is open all year. However, Shasta crayfish are protected and so there are specific river and lake closures listed for their protection in the 2013-2014 California Freshwater Fishing Regulations booklet (on page 20), as well as online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/. Look for subsection (d) of this section for the closed waters to avoid.

Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Please contact her at Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

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