Each month Carrie Wilson, a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game, answers questions sent in by outdoorsmen on a wide range of hunting and fishing topics. This question comes from an active spear fishermen who wonders if you can use attractants when diving for fish.
Q: I have been studying up on different methods of spear fishing while free diving and have read about the use of “glitter” as an attractant for baitfish. I have an idea to sprinkle glitter in the water so that when the baitfish come to investigate, the large game fish will follow as they attack the baitfish.
What are your views and the legal ramifications of this method? I understand chumming is not legal for taking game animals in our state, but the use of artificial lures is. With my idea the game fish would not be chummed by this method but instead just attracted by the collection of baitfish. If this method actually works, would it be legal? Would chumming baitfish to attract large predatory game fish be legal?
— Theodore G., Stockton
A: While you may have an innovative idea there, unfortunately even if your plan to lure unsuspecting bait and then game fish to you by sprinkling shiny, sparkling glitter in the water were to work, you could be cited for doing so.
Placing glitter in the water is littering and is prohibited under Fish and Game Code, Section 5652.
And regarding chumming, according to DFG Game Warden Michele Budish, chumming is defined as “Placing any material in the water, other than on a hook while angling, for the purpose of attracting fish to a particular area in order that they may be taken” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 1.32).
Chumming in the ocean is allowed, but chumming in fresh water is allowed only in specific areas and for certain fish species (see California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 2.30 and 2.40).