Question: I was out fishing at Pine Flat Reservoir this past weekend and I came across an angler. He had a handgun on his side. I thought he was a warden, but he was fishing about 20 yards from me. He was dressed in blue jeans and a long-sleeve shirt with a fishing vest. I did not talk to him or ask him his name.
When I got home I told my cousin about it and he told me that he heard there's a clause in the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) policy that makes it OK for anglers to carry a pistol while fishing, as long as the pistol is not loaded and as long as the angler has a California fishing license.
— Alex V.
Answer: The California Penal Code allows anglers to carry a gun while fishing and while hiking to and from their angling site. However, section 12025 of the Penal Code prohibits carrying concealed firearms in California. Section 12027, meanwhile, provides exemptions to this prohibition: "Licensed hunters or fishermen carrying pistols, revolvers or other firearms capable of being concealed upon the person while engaged in hunting or fishing, or transporting those firearms unloaded when going to or returning from the hunting or fishing expedition."
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Remember, some areas that allow fishing, such as state and national parks and lakes within some cities, prohibit the possession of any firearm.
Q: An acquaintance of mine runs a commercial salmon fishing troller and offers to take people out sport fishing for salmon during the closed periods for commercial salmon fishing? Is this legal?
— L. Andre
A: It depends on where you are talking about fishing. According to DFG Lt. Dennis McKiver, the answer is generally no — you cannot sport salmon fish from a salmon-permitted vessel. There are two exceptions, though.
One exception is for commercially permitted vessels that are also licensed as commercial passenger fishing vessels (a CPFV or party boat). Sport fishing on these vessels is allowed only on days when salmon are not also being taken for commercial purposes. To fish for salmon commercially and for sport from the same vessel on the same day would be a violation.
The other exception is for sport fishing in the Klamath Management Zone, as long as the commercial salmon season is closed and you are fishing at least 24 hours after the cutoff time to land commercial salmon for the season.
Q: I am a sacred arts practitioner who is seeking elk, trout and salmon wild-caught with prayer/sacred intention, for eating and ceremonial purposes. I am aware that it is illegal to purchase or sell game, so how would I legally go about obtaining such meat?
Do I have to hunt it myself, or are there other valid ways of doing this, such as purchasing from licensed sellers? Do indigenous populations have special privileges regarding this for religious reasons? What if said animal is given to me as a gift?
— raVen j.
A: Wild-caught elk, trout and salmon can be used for these purposes if acquired legally. According to DF&G retired Capt. Phil Nelms, you are correct that neither elk nor trout (wild-caught) can be purchased, but you can buy salmon under the regulations for commercial fishing.
You can take these species yourself under normal seasons and license requirements, take the fish without a license on the two designated free fishing days (July 1 and Sept. 6), or you can get them as a gift from anyone who took them legally.
Q: I would like to know the regulation for kelp crabs. Are these crabs legal to keep? If so, do they fall under the rock crab category limit of 35 per day with a minimum size of 4 inches?
— William C.
A: Kelp crabs are not rock crabs, and fall under general invertebrate regulations--a daily bag and possession limit of 35 animals, with no minimum size limit.
Carrie Wilson is with the California Department of Fish & Game. Write to CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov