Fishing with a net is only legal in north part of state

Question: If I am using a 20-foot beach net (the type generally used inland as bait nets) on an inland water (Mission Bay or San Diego Bay, in particular) to demonstrate to my kids the kind of nearshore sea life that is around, am I going to get zinged?

Here are the details: I would be using a 20-foot beach net, or a longer one if possible. It would be operated by hand with me (a license holder) on one end and my 7-year-old son on the other to crowd whatever sea life would be in the particular area. We are not targeting any species in particular. We would not actually take any sea life, but perhaps would handle them and observe them in a confined area. Would the regulations be any different for a non-inland area?

— Tim D., San Diego

Answer: I'm glad you asked first before taking that beach net out to show your kids what you'd catch. Here's why: California codes say beach nets not over 20 feet with meshes at least » of an inch can be used to take surf smelt north of Point Conception.

That means you cannot use beach nets or throw nets anywhere south of Point Conception, and this includes San Diego waters. The area you describe is not considered inland waters, but even if it was, these nets are not legal in inland waters anywhere. Beach or throw nets can only be used under the authority of a Scientific Collecting Permit and these are issued only for bona fide research, education or collection for approved public display purposes.


Q: I'm trying to find information on the possession of parts of a bear that I found in the woods that appeared to have died of natural causes. I have looked over the rules and regs and all pertain to the "killing/hunting" and possession of it thereafter. Nothing addresses the possession of bear parts in the manner I have described, where the bear died of natural causes. Do I need a permit authorizing the collection of the skull and claws?

— Heather M.

A: Under laws, the pieces and parts of an animal are treated the same as the complete animal, live or dead. Possession of any piece or part of a bear is legal only if it was acquired as authorized. There is no provision for taking bears that are already dead, but neither is it specifically prohibited.

According to retired DFG Capt. Phil Nelms, if you are in possession of a bear (including any of its parts) and if there is any evidence the bear had only recently been killed or died, it would be probable cause for a game warden to investigate. If evidence exists that the bear was taken in violation of the law, you would be subject to prosecution. However, mere possession of dried and/or desiccated bones, teeth, claws, etc. generally do not raise undue suspicion, especially in the absence of any other evidence suggesting the bear was taken illegally.

Keep in mind that buying or selling any part of a bear is illegal in California and violations are prosecuted as felonies.


Q: I recently bought a sport fisher that I hope to use fishing. It has a very good freezer on board and a friend has stored some yellowtail and yellowfin tuna he caught in Mexico in it. This fish was processed and packaged for freezing in convenient meal-size portions before he returned from Mexico. Do I need to remove this fish if I am using the boat for fishing?

— Dave N.

A: In California waters, Fish and Game codes say you cannot possess fish on a boat or bring ashore fish to a California port unless the size and species can be determined. Returning to California waters or landing in a California port with fish in the condition you describe would not be legal because the fish would not meet those criteria. California codes provide that bag and possession limits apply whether your fish are fresh, frozen or otherwise preserved.


Q: Can shells from farm-reared abalone be sold?

— Maria M., Sacramento

A: Yes. Commercially raised abalone and their shells can be sold by the abalone farm. Only those abalone shells taken under the authority of a sport fishing license cannot be traded, bartered or sold.

Carrie Wilson is a biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. Send questions to: CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.