Plenty of Good Fishing Still Awaits

Question: With this recent lawsuit halting trout stocking in so many of the state’s popular lakes and streams, realistically, how can we now expect to find any quality fishing left anywhere? This situation sounds very bleak for anglers. What is the DFG doing about this, and what’s the best we can now hope for? (Stephanie B.)

Answer: Despite the lawsuit, the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) plans to stock at least 771 bodies of water with more than seven million fish this next year! According to Staff Fisheries Biologist Jim Starr, the current suspension in the stocking of hatchery-reared fish in other waters is a court ordered interim measure that will result in DFG not stocking approximately 20 percent (roughly 180 bodies of water) of the waters normally scheduled for stocking in 2009. At DFG, we are aware of the effect this will have on the communities that have come to depend on our fish stocking programs and we don’t want to minimize that effect. DFG is working to identify waters that are currently on the non-stocking list that may qualify to be stocked after further evaluation and consultation with the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

An important point to remember is that just because DFG will not be stocking hatchery-reared fish in a given body of water (which in most cases is someone’s favorite fishing hole), there will still be fish in those waters waiting to latch onto an angler’s lure or fly. Local governments, concessionaires and water body managers that have or may have had a Private Stocking Permit since 2005 to stock these lakes can continue to do so, it’s just that DFG is court ordered not to plant any of our hatchery reared fish in that same body of water, if it is deemed a non-stock water. And, as always, the time shared with family and friends enjoying the outdoors will still be there … not to mention all of the tall tales that will be told about the big one that got away!

Stay tuned to DFG’s Web site for regional information about where, and how much stocking will continue throughout the state.

Can You Donate Game?
I do a lot of hunting and fishing and especially after long range fishing trips I realize I have more than I really need. Is it possible for hunters and fishermen to donate surplus fish and/or game to shelters and soup kitchens? (Jason K.)
Answer: Yes. Fish and wild game can be donated to these privately run organizations (Fish & Game Code section 3080), however, several health code sections govern how they must store and process uninspected meat. Game is uninspected and generally must be stored and processed in different facilities from the inspected meats and/or with different implements. This added burden has caused many of the organizations to stop accepting the donations. The best thing to do is to call around to find out who accepts fish and/or wild game donations and find out what they require to legally accept them as donations.

What are the Limits on Upland Bird Hunting?
Question: If I’m in the field upland bird hunting and a flock of ducks/geese fly over head, am I allowed to take a shot on those birds also? (Robert G.)
Answer: According to game warden Todd Tognazzini, if you are legally hunting upland birds and it is waterfowl season you can shoot at waterfowl if you are using and possessing only steel shot while hunting and have the required state and federal waterfowl stamps affixed to your license. The federal stamp must be signed across its face to be valid.

Is it Legal to Use a Duck Call if You’re Not Licensed?
Question: I have been taking my 15-year-old son duck hunting. He is licensed; I am not. Is it legal for me to use some of his duck calls as a way to be more active in the hunt? (John K.)
Answer: Absolutely! It is perfectly legal for you to accompany your son on his hunts and to participate as the caller, retriever, spotter, decoy carrier or in whatever capacity you would like. As long as you are not carrying a gun or ammunition and have no means to take (harvest) the game, you are in good shape.
By the way, I applaud you for supporting and encouraging your son in his duck hunting endeavors! Even though you won’t be actually “hunting” while with him, I’ll bet that by your interest and efforts to share in his hunt, you will enrich your son’s hunting experiences all the more.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at

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