Wilson on Outdoors: Leaving spent shells is littering; illegal

November 5, 2013 

Question: I was walking the Yolo Bypass Levee north of I-80 and saw a group shooting from the levee at some targets that were placed right next to the slough and the adjacent wetlands to the east. If waterfowl hunters are required to use non-lead shot to prevent incidental lead poisoning, shouldn't target shooters firing where their shot will enter the wetland also have to use nonlead shot?

It was also disappointing to see a lot of spent shells, clay target debris and glass left all over the ground. Is there any particular regulation prohibiting this?

Beckye S.

Answer: California Fish and Wildlife laws don't prohibit the use of lead ammunition for target shooting, but they do prohibit people from depositing garbage, shells, glass, etc. within 150 feet of state waters. If you see this again, please call CalTip at (888) 334-2258 and report it.

Q: Is it legal to drop Dungeness crab gear prior to opening day? I've heard it's legal to drop gear the day or night before opening day to let it soak overnight. I looked in the Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet but couldn't find anything indicating whether this is legal or not. If it is legal, how long before opening day can it be dropped? And how early can it be retrieved?

Fred S.

A: Dungeness crab gear cannot be set prior to the recreational fishing season opening date, which this year was Nov. 2 at 12:01 a.m. Anyone who set gear prior to that could have been cited for taking crab out of season.

Q: We are planning a trip to Oakland in December. Since I will be in meetings every day, my husband would love to go fishing. How can I find an honest and reputable fishing guide?

Christy L.

A: A list of licensed fishing guides can be found online at www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/specialpermits/ (click on "Lists" and then "Fishing Guides (PDF)." Other than this, your best bet is to do a Google search for the different guides around San Francisco Bay, and investigate feedback from customers — which is also likely available online.

Q: Can pigs taken by hunters as well as pigs taken under depredation permits be donated for use at a fund-raising dinner?

Mike H.

A: Yes, as long as those donating the animals receive no compensation for their donations and as long as the patrons are not paying for the dinner. It is illegal for animals taken under the authority of a hunting license or depredation permit to be bought, sold, traded or bartered.

Q: Can you help settle a debate please? Is intentionally chumming or blood baiting from shore or the pier permissible in California ocean waters? What specific regulations or laws apply?

Heather H.

A: Yes, chumming in ocean waters is permitted statewide.

Q: I don't have a fishing license because I know I am allowed to fish and catch some crab from a public pier. I am wondering, though, if I am allowed to use a trap to catch fish. The trap would be a mesh cage made of nylon (or another type of durable material). It would have an opening, be attached to a float to keep it about five feet beneath the surface of the water, and have a main line going back up to the pier where I will have the rope tied down to the railing. I am targeting fish, like mackerel. Does this plan all sound alright?

Dave L.

A: No. Taking mackerel or most other finfish in a trap under a sport fishing license is not permitted. Only a handful of baitfishes (shiner surfperch, longjaw mudsuckers, Pacific staghorn sculpin) can be taken by traps that meet certain dimensions in certain areas of the coast. For details, see Section 28.75 on pg. 46 of the current Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet, which is available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations.

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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