Catching shrimp is more trouble than they're worth

Question: I am a resident of Northern California and have been an avid "crabber" for quite a while. For a new adventure I'd like to take up "shrimping," but I need some information on where to go, when to go and how to catch shrimp. Is it legal to recreationally catch shrimp? If so, what are the seasons and bag limits? Is there still a viable population of shrimp in California? —Tony M.

Answer: You can take any type of ocean shrimp in California, but spot prawns are the most desirable and sought after for eating; others are often used for bait. Senior invertebrate specialist Kristine Barsky said because California's spot prawns are found so deep — usually 600 feet or more — and the bag limit is only 35, most people are not interested in trapping them recreationally. Check out the crustaceans section of the current Ocean Sport Fishing regulations (beginning on page 55) for the regulations, gear, limits and other information.

Q: I was traveling in my boat up Butte Creek recently when I was prevented from continuing because a tree had fallen across the creek. I am wondering if I would be legally allowed to cut the tree or its branches so that I can pass through with my boat. I consulted two friends who thought I could but for different reasons. One thought I could cut the tree out because it was disrupting the environment, and the other thought I could because I would be unclogging a block in a running stream of water. Neither answer was persuasive, so I figured I would ask somebody who would really knows the laws. —Tyler R.

A: Though you might be traveling along a public waterway, removal of the tree blocking your passage is the responsibility of the landowner or the public agency managing the property through which the creek flows.

According to Lt. John Laughlin, public waterways allow for boaters to float through public and private properties but all vegetation is the property and responsibility of the landowners. If safe passage requires more than just pushing the vegetation to the side to allow you through, you'll need to contact the landowners. Depending on the severity of the barrier and magnitude of the removal, the landowner might be required to get a streambed alteration agreement from the Department of Fish and Game (DFG). A tree should not constitute a fish passage blockage, but if it did, DFG should be contacted.

Q: I read your answer regarding the loaded gun "on" cars issue and I was left wondering what the person should have done when approached by the game warden for inspection. Should she have told the warden to wait while she unloaded the gun? Should she have placed the gun on the ground? What is the proper protocol in this type of situation? —Rheannon O.

A: First, vehicles should automatically be considered a poor choice to place or to store a loaded weapon. Assistant Chief Mike McBride says that when a game warden approaches, the first thing you should do is follow the directions the warden gives you. Absent any directions, here are some good options:

Some folks unload their weapon in a calm manner to show respect for what a loaded weapon can do and respect for the game warden. This shows the warden you are handing him a safe unloaded weapon.

Many folks simply hand the weapon to the warden and that is also acceptable.

Setting the weapon on the ground is acceptable but depending on the terrain (mud, sand etc), this might not be a prudent choice.

Q: I live in an apartment complex that sits on Seal Slough in the San Francisco Bay area. Do I need a fishing license to fish off of the shore while standing on the apartment property with my child, who is under 16?

A: Yes, you will need a license but your child will not. Anyone 16 or older must have a California fishing license to legally fish in public waters. The only exceptions are during the two free fishing days each year, and while fishing from a public pier in ocean waters.

Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. She cannot personally answer everyones questions but will select a few to answer in this column each week. Contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.