Paper License vs. Scanned Copy on Smartphone?

Anglers and hunters are required by law to present the original paper copy of their fishing or hunting license to a game warden upon request. A scanned copy version carried in a smart phone will not suffice.

Question: If I scan my fishing license and save it as a pdf file on my smartphone, can I then just show my license saved on my phone to any game warden who asks to see my license? (Dave B.)

Answer: No, you are required to have your actual sport fishing license in possession while fishing (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 700 and Fish and Game Code, Sections 1054.2 and 7145(a)) and to present your actual license upon request to any game warden who asks (FGC, section 2012). Fishing and hunting licenses are printed on special waterproof paper to prevent fraudulent duplication. A scanned or digital version of your license on your phone could be easily altered from its original image.

Testing broadheads before archery hunting
Question: I have a question about a new broadhead I’ve found and whether I can use them to hunt big game in California. They are sold in 100 grains, have a one-inch cutting diameter and are advertised to fly very accurately.

If the blades are made of razor wire, does this make them illegal? If the blades bend and flex when pushed through a hole, are they then illegal? Should the test be done with a metal sheet or wood?

I just want to have all my ducks in a row before I purchase these broadheads for my own use. (Tyler Audisio)

Answer: To be legal in California, broadheads must meet the criteria specified in the Mammal Hunting Regulations booklet under section 354. According to retired Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Capt. Phil Nelms, for the take of big game, hunting arrows and crossbow bolts with a broadhead-type blade which will not pass through a hole seven-eighths inch in diameter shall be used.

The one-inch cutting diameter hole you mention sounds promising. The test, though, is exactly what it does when it starts to penetrate. It’s reasonable to assume it holds it shape. How else would it make a one-inch hole? But, before you spend a lot of money, you will need to get one and see if it passes the test.

The razor wire blades do not make it illegal. The standard established in the Mammal Regulations book under section 354(c) says, “… will not pass through a hole 7/8 inch in diameter …” The regulation does not specify the material containing the hole. However, in the Fish and Game Academy, game wardens are taught to use a piece of paper with the required size hole cut in the paper. To test your broadhead, use a piece of paper with a 7/8 inch diameter hole cut in the paper. If the arrow head can be passed through the hole without cutting the paper, it is too small and is not legal. Or to put it another way, if the arrow head cannot be passed through the hole without cutting the paper, then it is legal.

The only additional guideline is that “retractable blades” must be in the open position when conducting the test. The flexibility of the wire in this type of broadhead would not seem to be an important consideration, unless they hang limp when not in flight, which seems highly unlikely.

Mussel quarantines?
Question: I’d like to collect some mussels from Monterey Bay but know there are health warnings during certain times of the year. Is it safe now? Is there someplace on the web where I can check? (Joe L.,Modesto)

Answer: Mussels may be taken year-round but health warning quarantines are currently in effect. The California Department of Public Health monitors and annually quarantines the take of mussels for human consumption to prevent cases of paralytic shellfish poisoning and domoic acid poisoning. The quarantine is usually in effect from May through October. For updated information on quarantines and naturally occurring shellfish toxins, please call the California Department of Public Health’s Shellfish Biotoxin Information Line at (510) 412-4643 or toll-free at (800) 553-4133.

Stocking my home aquarium?
Question: Is it legal to take any marine life or rocks from the California coastline for use in an in-home aquarium? (James H.)

Answer: Finfish may not be transported alive from the water where taken except under the authority of a scientific collecting permit or a marine aquaria collector’s permit. The removal of live rocks (rocks with living marine organisms attached) is also prohibited in some areas, including marine sanctuaries and state parks.

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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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