Question: Why do lobster report cards run calendar year (January to December) instead of from the beginning of the season (October) to the end (March)? It would be less labor-intensive and more accurate to receive landing data once a year rather than twice a year, and you wouldn't be charging fishermen double to be able to fish the full season.
Answer: Lobster report cards run calendar year because they have been linked to fishing licenses, which run calendar year. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is not "charging double" because a report card bought in early January can be used for the last 2½ months of one lobster season and the first three months of the next season.
But your question is timely. The Fish and Game Commission is considering changing lobster report cards to run through the season beginning in October with the 2013-2014 lobster season. This is possible with the implementation of the Automated License Data System. Under the proposal, the new deadline for the return of lobster report cards would be April 30. Anyone who is late returning their report card will be charged a $20 non-return fee when purchasing a lobster report card for the next season. Details and full language of the regulation change proposal are posted at: www.fgc.ca.gov. If you'd like to comment on the proposal, the deadline is March 5; send an e-mail to www.fgc.ca.gov/contact/.
One of the main reasons for using report cards was to determine the number of sport fishermen targeting lobster and the number of lobsters being taken. More than 37,000 cards were sold in 2012. By contrast, there are about 150 active commercial lobster fishermen.
The CDFW is developing a Lobster Fishery Management Plan (FMP). Details at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/lobsterfmp/.
Q: I work for a southern California county lake and saw a new rig that is being sold in stores known as the "Alabama Rig." It consists of a set-up where you can clip 3-5 lures onto a swivel attachment to make it appear like a school of bait fish. I try to stay current with the state freshwater regulations so I can keep fishermen informed. I remember seeing in the current state freshwater regulations that there is a maximum two hook set-ups per line. Are these "rigs" legal?
A: Yes, an Alabama rig can be used, but only when modified to have no more than three hooks. When the Alabama rig is set up with three hooks to comply with California law, many call it a California Rig.
Q: Unless laws change by the time the season opens, will I be able to hunt deer in California with a .223 caliber AR 15?
A: Fish and Game hunting laws authorize using any firearm rifle using centerfire cartridges for taking deer, as long as the firearm is otherwise legal to possess in California. Though the caliber is legal, the .223 round is considered by most big game hunters to be too small to take a deer.
Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Contact her at Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.