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Q and A | California Hunting Licenses and Fishing Questions

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 month, Carrie tackles several questions including one about squid fishing, catching crayfish and whether or not you need a hunting license everytime you’re in the woods with a weapon.

Q: I’m new to fishing in Monterey waters and I don’t want to break any laws. I would like to catch squid with a squid catcher rig and want to know if I can use some of the rigs they sell online that have more than six squid hooks. Is there a limit to the number of squid hooks on one rig? I would like to try to make one with 10 squid hooks. — Rudy

A: Fortunately, the answer is simple. According to DFG Capt. Don Kelly, there is no restriction on the number of hooks you may use for the take of squid. A held-held dip net is also a legal method to take squid. Additionally, there is no bag limit. Just be sure there are no salmon or rockfish aboard or else fishing with this rig would not be legal.

Q:Are there any restrictions on the collection of crayfish? Any bag limits? Do I need a fishing license? — Kathleen J.

A: Crayfish may only be taken by hand, hook and line, dip net or with traps not more than three feet in greatest dimension. You must have a sport fishing license and there is no season or bag limit. There are some stream closures listed in the California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 5.35(d). In addition, if using hook and line, you may not take crayfish in waters closed to the take of fish.

Q: I was stopped by a game warden on a dirt road while out geocaching. He told me that if I am in a hunting zone when the season is open and I have a method of take (I always have a rifle with me), I must not only have a hunting license and tag for that zone, but I also have to show them to the game warden. All of this even though I said I was NOT hunting! Is this true? If it is true, would this not deny everyone that uses the forest, and even land owners, their second amendment rights if they didn’t have a hunting license? I thought this was ruled on and settled years ago. Have there been new laws enacted? The only new law I’ve heard of allows us to take our guns into national parks. This seems contrary to that new law. — Randy S.

A: Fish and Game law does not require a person to have a hunting license and/or harvest tag while carrying a firearm in any area at any time of the year where access by the general public is otherwise unrestricted. A hunting license is only required if you are taking birds and mammals.

According to retired DFG Capt. Phil Nelms, anyone who is traveling in these areas, especially persons carrying firearms during an open hunting season, can expect to be stopped by a game warden and questioned as to the nature of their activities. And, for some species of animals the season is open all year.

Game wardens have the authority to inspect any firearms, licenses, tags or game you may have in your possession (FGC, sections 1006 and 2012). This authority in the Fish and Game Code is in addition to that provided for all peace officers to inspect any firearm that is being carried in any area that is otherwise not open to the discharge of firearms, such as from or upon any public road (Penal Code, sections 374(c) and 12031(e)).

Q: I plan to go out with my family into a pretty uninhabited area of D7 to camp while we bow hunt for deer. I would like to have my pistol at camp for protection purposes while I’m there. However, when I leave camp in my truck to get to the hunting areas, I will absolutely not leave the handgun in the tent due to the presence of children and possible theft. Would it be legal to carry just the handgun and leave all of the ammunition in the tent, and store the pistol in a locked case inside and under the deck lid of my truck? I want to keep my family safe but not feel like a criminal for doing so. — Anonymous

A: Yes, you may have the firearm in a locked case in your vehicle while you are in the field hunting deer during the archery season. However, game wardens are likely to thoroughly search your vehicle if they have reason to believe the ammunition may also be in the vehicle. Make certain there is none! And when in the Condor Zone, you are required to have non-lead ammunition while hunting, even at camp.

California Hunting Licenses and Fishing Questions

If you have a question you’d like to send to the DFG, visit californiaoutdoors.wordpress.com or email it to [email protected].

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Carrie Wilson is a 30-year CDFW veteran and an avid outdoor enthusiast, angler and hunter. She is a marine biologist with a strong background of professional experience working in both fisheries and wildlife management. An established award-winning outdoor writer, Carrie enjoys tackling the tough questions from the public and will be regularly tapping into the expertise of CDFW’s wildlife officers and many fisheries, wildlife and marine biologists to best cover all the topics.