June 3, 2014

Wilson on Outdoors: Is bowfishing for carp hunting or fishing?

Question: If I want to shoot carp with a bow, do I need a hunting license or a fishing license? Are there any regulations regarding seasons, bodies of water or specific tackle or gear I should plan to use?

Q uestion: If I want to shoot carp with a bow, do I need a hunting license or a fishing license? Are there any regulations regarding seasons, bodies of water or specific tackle or gear I should plan to use?

– Vern D., Stockton

Answer: While the practice of bowfishing for carp may seem like a combination of hunting and fishing, it’s considered fishing, and thus you are required to have a fishing license. Sport-fishing regulations permit bow-and-arrow fishing for the following nongame species only: carp, goldfish, western sucker, Sacramento blackfish, hardhead, Sacramento pikeminnow and lamprey (for specific areas and exceptions, see California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 2.25 on page 15 of the sport-fishing regulations booklet).

Even though California Department of Fish and Wildlife law might allow for bow-and-arrow fishing in your local area, some lakes and waterways prohibit the possession of bow-and-arrow equipment. You will need to check with the jurisdiction that runs the body of water (e.g. state parks, regional parks, local county parks, etc.).

When bow-and-arrow fishing, make sure the tackle has the arrow shaft, the point or both attached by a line to the bow or a fishing reel. This rule also applies to crossbows (CCR Title 14, section 1.23).

Q: I know it’s illegal to shoot from your car, but is it legal to park and shoot from the roof of your car for varmints? Thanks.

– Harry N.

A: It is always illegal to shoot at a bird or mammal from a car, including from the roof top. The law prohibits possessing a loaded rifle or shotgun in any vehicle which is standing on or along or is being driven on or along any public highway or other way open to the public (Fish and Game Code, section 2006). Loaded guns may be possessed in or on a car only while on private property; however, the law does not allow you to take any bird or mammal from a motor vehicle (CCR Title 14, section 251). Remember, the definition of “take” includes any attempt to take, such as shooting at the bird or mammal. Therefore, the only shooting allowed would be target shooting.

Q: I know that under current regulations, grunion can only be caught by hand. I also know that when the grunion come inshore to spawn, the halibut frequently follow along for a feast, and it is a good time to target the flatties. So I am wondering, is it legal for me to take grunion by the legal method (by hand) and then retain them live in a bait bucket to use as live bait for fishing for halibut? Or even more directly, may I take the grunion in legal fashion and hook one up to fish the surf for halibut and other species with rod and reel while the grunion run is in progress? – Martin F.

A: Yes. Grunion may be taken June 1 through March 31, and there is no bag limit. Grunion may be taken by hook and line or by hand. No appliances of any kind may be used on the beach to take them, and no holes may be dug in the sand to entrap them (CCR Title 14, section 29.00). When catching grunion on the beach, we recommend you wait until after they have spawned and are returning to the ocean to take them.

Q: When I go out hunting, I normally take my 9-year-old son. Can my son carry a BB gun legally with him? He will not be using the BB gun to shoot at wildlife. It mainly gives him that feeling that he is part of the hunting party. Any information you can provide is greatly appreciated. – Jose R. via email

A: I applaud you for introducing your son to the outdoors and including him in your hunting excursions at such a young age. Unless there is a county ordinance prohibiting the discharge of a BB gun or air rifle in the area where you’re hunting, and as long as he is not shooting at wildlife, it should be fine for your son to legally carry his BB gun with you and the rest of your party. Enjoy your time together.

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