Night fishing in lakes with submerged lights?

Fishing at sunset (Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS)

Question: Is it legal to use the assistance of a submerged light source in the taking of trout, crappie and maybe even some catfish in California? The lights might include waterproof flashlights or standard 12-volt drop down fishing lights (made by Optronics) and maybe a floating crappie light. (Daniel V.S.)

Answer: Yes, it is legal to use lights when fishing at night when and where such fishing is permitted. Lights may be used on or as part of any fishing tackle (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 2.15). Just make sure that the waters where you plan to fish allow for nighttime fishing. Some lake managers or concessionaires at managed lakes do not allow for any fishing after dark.

When it comes to trout or salmon though, it is not legal to take them at night in many waters. For exceptions to this rule where trout and salmon may be taken at night, please review CCR Title 14, section 3.00 found on page 14 in the 2010 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.

Carrying a concealed handgun with a permit from another state?
Question: Is it legal for me to carry a concealed handgun in California if I have a CCW permit from a neighboring state?

Answer: Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW) permits for handguns are issued by the counties and only to residents of cities and counties within California. No provision or exception is given for anyone who is not a resident of California. CCWs issued in another state are not recognized by California.

For more information on firearms questions not related to method of take, please contact the local police or sheriff’s office in your area or the Bureau of Firearms at To print out a booklet on California firearms laws, please go to

Using aquarium fish for bait?
Question: Is it legal to keep live bait in an aquarium at home and use it for bait in the future? For example, I’d like to catch a few shiner perch nearby. I have a saltwater tank at home and was wondering if I can keep them alive in my tank and then use the live shiners as bait in a week or two? (James M., Union City)

Answer: No, the moving of fish is prohibited. Live fin fish taken under the authority of a sportfishing license may not be transported alive from the water where taken (CCR Title 14, section 1.63).

Can I own a Pacific ring-neck snake?
Question: Is it permissible for someone to own a Pacific ring-neck snake? (Kris K.)

Answer: Yes, you may possess up to two Pacific ring-necked snakes (Diadophis punctatus amabilis). This is one of the reptile species listed with provisions allowing for their take and possession (CCR Title 14, Section 5.60). If you plan to capture this snake from the wild, be aware the law requires that in order to take legal reptile species from the wild (except rattlesnakes), a person must first purchase a sportfishing license.

Canaries or vermilions – How to tell these fish apart?
Question: What’s the best way to tell the difference between the prohibited canary rockfish and the legal vermilion rockfish? They look so much alike and I don’t want to risk getting a ticket. I’m nervous about trying to keep any of these big red fish I catch in case I mistakenly have a canary rockfish. Suggestions? (Joe L.)

Answer: Canaries and vermilion do look alike at first until you learn some of the subtle differences which will then make them pretty easy to differentiate between. Canaries are the fish you will not be able to keep and here are some of their key characteristics. They are orange to red in color, have a clear line extending along the lateral line from head to tail, are smooth under their jaw (vermilions are rough to the touch), have no black edges to their fins like the vermilions, and have a slightly forked tail fin.

For a good visual comparison of these two species, please go to our website at for a nice chart that will help make these character differences easy to see. Good luck and keep fishing!

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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

One response to “Night fishing in lakes with submerged lights?

  1. Hello, I have only just invested in my first computer & to find so much material on the internet about fishing is really astounding!
    I guess my magazine subscriptions will soon be cancelled as I find many more sites like this one hahaha
    This is great cheers

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