Should You Report Fishing Violators?

(Photo: DFG file photo by Stephanie Mehalick, Heritage and Wild Trout Program)
DFG Fisheries Biologist Jeff Weaver fly fishing on Caples Creek.

Question: I spend a great deal of time fly fishing with family and friends in areas designated to be exclusively for catch and release, artificial barbless lures or flies only. Unfortunately, we usually run into someone who’s either fishing with bait or keeping their catch or fishing with two rods on stretches where the practice is prohibited. On the back of our licenses we have the CALTIP phone number to report poachers, but let’s be honest, is a phone call from me going to stop anyone from breaking the laws that we’re witnessing? Should we confront these obvious violators of the law or leave them be and hope a game warden shows up sometime? (Scott R.)

Answer: If you see violations in progress or know of people who are repeatedly breaking the law, I encourage you to use the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) CALTIP line (888-DFG-CALTIP) or else call your local sheriff’s office which can get the word to dispatch operators to locate a game warden. The more information you can provide as to descriptions of the individuals, vehicle descriptions and license plate numbers, observations of the activities, etc., the better the chance that law enforcement can find the individuals who are not in compliance with the law and cite them for their violations.

As far as whether you should approach the anglers or not, I would consider your own safety first and make your decision based on that. If the people obviously don’t know they are doing something wrong, then they may appreciate your insight. Otherwise, best to report the violations and leave it to the game wardens to hopefully take care of the situation.

Donating Excess Fish
In a recent column you said it is legal to donate excess fish from a multi-day fishing trip to a church or non-profit shelter as long as no compensation is received. What about a tax deduction? This way the guys with too many fish donate to the churches, the churches feed the hungry and the fisherman gets a deduction and doesn’t have to worry about dead fish to clean. Everyone wins! What do you think? (Dick Langlois)

Answer: Sorry, but while this might sound like a great idea, donated fish cannot be claimed as a tax deduction because you cannot assign a value to sport-caught fish. The best thing for anglers to do is to catch and keep only what they know they will actually use so that they don’t end up with excess fish.

Ammunition Concern
I just received my first order of non-lead ammo for my 270 rifle but am concerned because there is no marking on the casing or bullet to indicate they are non-lead. They look alarmingly like my regular leaded ammo. How can I verify the validity of this ammo if I encounter game wardens in the field who ask? Thanks for your help. Really enjoy the Q & A section…good stuff. (Gerry M.)

Answer: If you’ll be hunting in “Condor Country” and the non-lead ammunition you will be carrying cannot be easily identified as non-lead, the best thing to do is to carry the box end with you (or the whole box) to show to a warden should you get contacted in the field. If you’re thinking the ammo looks alarmingly like lead, we may also!

It’s a good idea to make sure that any commercially loaded ammunition, or bullets for handloading, purchased for use in the lead-free zone is on the certified lead-free ammunition approved list found on our Web site at This site is updated periodically so check often.

According to Hunter Education Instructor Blaine Nickens, the listed lead-free ammunition from major cartridge manufacturers can usually be found in sporting goods stores in and adjacent to the lead-free zone. There are also small vendors on the certified-ammo list and online vendor sources for the major commercial offerings that can be mail-ordered if you do not live in the vicinity of the condor lead-free zone.

In addition, if you have no evidence that your ammo is compliant with the non-lead ruling in that area and the game warden thinks it necessary, the warden can take a sample of your ammo for testing.

More information about hunting in this lead-free area is available online at

California Hunter Ed Class vs. Out of State Hunter Ed Class
I took a hunter education class in Missouri and have a hunter’s safety card issued from there but recently moved to California and would like to hunt here. Do I have to complete another hunter ed course in California or can I just purchase a license using my old card? Thanks. (Steve H.)
Answer: No, you do not have to take another hunter education course as long as you can show your certificate proving that you have taken an approved course in the past. In California, we accept hunter education certificates from the other states. However, Lt. James Kasper from DFG’s Hunter Education program recommends that everyone should periodically update their knowledge with a refresher course and the 10 commandments of handling a firearm. Our hunter education program is always improving and most people do benefit from a refresher.

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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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