Wilson on Outdoors: Is helicopter fishing legal in these parts?

07/22/2014 11:20 PM

07/22/2014 11:26 PM

Question: You’ve answered readers’ questions several times in the past about the legalities and illegalities of fishing with a remote-controlled boat. But my question is about a radio-controlled helicopter. I just saw a video on YouTube showing a guy maneuvering his helicopter around a small lake that was dangling a line with a hook and bait on it. The craziest part of this was that he actually caught a sunfish with this rig and the helicopter flew the fish back to him on shore so he could take it off the hook and release it back into the water. Seems like a great idea but I’m betting it isn’t legal in these parts. What do you say? Steve C., Chico

Answer: All fish caught in freshwater must be taken by angling, which means hook and line with the line held in the hand, or with the line attached to a pole or rod held in the hand or closely attended in such a manner that the fish voluntarily takes the bait or lure in its mouth (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.05). Thus, the remote-controlled helicopter could be used as a vehicle to take the line out farther, but the line would need to be directly controlled by the angler. Depending on the location where “helicopter angler” wants to use it, he should first make sure there are no local ordinances or specific rules imposed by the lake property owner or concessionaire prohibiting this practice and the flying of remote-controlled helicopters.

Q: When bow hunting in California, can you carry a concealed firearm if you possess a concealed carry permit? DeWayne T.

A: Unless you are an active or honorably retired peace officer, as specified in Fish and Game Code, section 4370(b), you may not carry a firearm during an archery-only (AO) deer season or while using an AO tag, regardless of whether the firearm is concealed. Fish and Game Code, section 4370 requires:

(a) In every area in which deer may lawfully be taken during the general open season, there is an archery season for the taking of deer with bow and arrow. ... Except as provided in subdivision (b), a person taking or attempting to take deer during such archery season shall neither carry, nor have under his or her immediate control, any firearm of any kind.

(b) A peace officer … whether active or honorably retired, may carry a firearm capable of being concealed on his or her person while engaged in the taking of deer with bow and arrow in accordance with subdivision (a), but shall not take or attempt to take deer with the firearm.

AO tags/seasons are only one option though. You can instead choose to hunt during the general season under a general tag with a bow, and then you could carry a firearm. Hunting under the AO authority grants a special opportunity to archers in exchange for leaving the firearm in camp.

Q: While fishing from a public pier without a fishing license, am I allowed to go down onto the beach to land a big fish that I hooked on the pier? Pete T.

A: No. A fishing license is required when fishing everywhere except from a public pier. Even if you hooked the fish on the pier and only came down onto the beach to land the fish, you would need a valid license to avoid a potential citation. Purchasing an annual fishing license will make this a non-issue; or you may want to buy a pier net to help you land bigger fish from the pier.

Q: Is it legal to trap wild peacocks? If so, is it legal to sell them? Is it legal to kill wild peacocks? R. Om

A: Peacocks are not protected by California Fish and Game laws, so the CDFW has no regulations regarding trapping, selling or taking them. Check with your local animal control, as peacocks are domestic animals.

Q: I fish for rockfish out of Santa Barbara and afterward freeze the carcasses to use for crab bait. I am aware of the daily bag limit for rockfish but have not found any regulations for the leftover carcass (head, body, skin and guts). Are there any possession limits for rockfish carcasses? Jim P.

A: The general rule is once the meat has been removed and consumed or given away and you only have a carcass, it no longer counts as part of your possession. However, even parts of fish are legally considered “fish.” The letter of the law is you may not possess more than a daily bag limit of fish. So, if you catch fish and take them home to clean and you freeze the carcasses for use as bait in the future, be sure you do not take more than a possession limit of carcasses with you when you go crabbing.

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