Wilson on Outdoors: Don't cut abalone loose from rocks

September 17, 2013 

Question: I plan to head to the coast to try some abalone diving next weekend but need to clarify a few of the regulations before I go. First, I will take all abalone with a legal ab iron but want to also carry a knife. Would this be a problem?

Second, if my buddy and I want to spearfish and take abs on the same day, can we carry our spearguns while taking the abs or do we have to make separate trips to and from the car?

Finally, if our abs are separated into individual bags (one for mine and one for his), can both bags be clipped onto a single float tube while we finish spear fishing or would that violate the separate possession regulation?

Andrew M.

Answer: You are allowed to carry a knife while diving for abalone but you cannot use a knife in place of an abalone iron for taking abalone. The main reason for this rule is because abalone are hemophiliacs and even the slightest cut to the foot when attempting to remove them from the rocks can cause them to bleed to death. This is a problem especially for abalone short of the legal size limit that must be released. Abalone irons are designed with rounded corners and wider and thicker bases to prevent injuries.

As far as spear guns, you are allowed to carry one while abalone diving (unlike when diving for spiny lobster, where this is not legal). Each person's abalone must be kept in separate identifiable bags, but the bags can both be clipped to the same tube.

Q: While fishing on a reservoir located on the Cal Poly SLO campus recently, a Cal Poly professor approached us and asked us to leave. This reservoir receives water from Lake Santa Margarita where the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) stocks the fishery. The reservoir isn't listed as a regulated fishery with special conditions. I believe it is public land, and licensed California anglers have a right to fish there. The professor disagrees. Who's right?

Brian H., San Luis Obispo

A: Fishing access to reservoirs is generally controlled by the person or entity that owns the land on which the reservoir is located. According to local CDFW Patrol Lieutenant Todd Tognazzini, Cal Poly might be conducting studies or engaging in other activities on the reservoir that are inconsistent with fishing. You should check with the Cal Poly police Department for clarification. They can probably tell you what laws they are enforcing related to fishing there.

Q: I hunt archery exclusively, though sometimes I am not able to fill my tag. If I don't fill my tag during the archery season, can I still use my archery tag and hunt during the rifle season?

Jonathan E.

A: It depends upon what type of tag you have. If you have an archery only (AO) tag or a premium archery tag, then it can be used only for archery. If you have a general zone tag, it can be used with archery equipment during the early archery season, and then with all legal big-game methods such as a rifle, crossbow or archery during the later general season.

Q: Is it legal to use a gaff to land salmon? On a fishing website I follow, some guys are recommending using a gaff if the net is busy and two fish need to be landed at the same time. I can't find the section in the saltwater regulation book to answer my question. Can you help? I'm just trying to stay legal.

Ralph C.

A: In ocean waters, gaffs can be used only to land salmon that are of legal size. If a fish is short and a gaff is used, the angler is in violation of codes. In inland waters, only anglers fishing from a boat in the Sacramento River main stem below Deschutes Road Bridge can use a gaff (that measures three feet or less) to land legal-sized fish. It's best to release any short salmon as close to the water as possible to give them the best chance for survival.

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

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