Herding and Spearing Fish in Shallow Saltwater

Thornback skate (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Thornback skate (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Question: Over the past few years, I have noticed an increasing number of people attempting to spear corbina while wading in shallow nearshore waters (multiple counties in Southern California). These folks are in the water but not transiting to deeper water. They do not ever swim or float, they are throwing their spears/Hawaiian slings at fish while standing upright upon the bottom. In some cases, they even work in small teams to corral fish by driving them into shallow beach depressions.

I note that the 2013-14 regulations, section 28.90 starts with: “Persons who are floating or swimming in the water may use spearfishing gear and skin or SCUBA diving equipment to take…” So, I guess this question revolves around the definition of the word “swimming” as interpreted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Are either of these practices legal? (Anonymous)

Answer: The activities you describe are neither swimming nor floating. This activity is allowed only for the take of skates, rays and sharks (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.95). If they want to spear any other type of fish, they need to be swimming or floating. Corralling the fish with their bodies would be legal if they were swimming or floating.

How many spider crabs?
Question: We were fishing off the Santa Barbara Pier last weekend and kept catching spider crabs. We wanted to keep them but couldn’t find them mentioned in the regulations and so didn’t know if we could take them. What are the limits or regulations are on spider crabs? (Stan M., Modesto)

Answer: Spider crabs fall under the general section 29.05 in the Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet. Therefore, there are no closed seasons, closed hours or minimum size limits. The bag limit on spider crabs, as well as other invertebrates not covered in more specific laws for which the take is authorized and for which there is not a bag limit otherwise established, is 35.

Calls and sounds to attract a buck?
Question: I have done most of my hunting in other states and am wondering two things. First, can I use a buck grunt, rattle horns together or use a non-electronic doe bleat to attract a buck? Second, does California require deer hunters to wear blaze orange during rifle season? (Colt Wells)

Answer: Yes, buck grunts, rattle horns and doe bleats to attract bucks are legal to use as long as none of these sounds are electronically produced or transmitted. Regarding blaze orange, California fish and wildlife laws do not require hunters to wear blaze orange while hunting deer, but some local rules in some areas, such as military reservations, may require blaze orange to be worn. Even if it is not required, wearing blaze orange does help you to be more visible to other hunters, so it’s a good idea to wear whenever possible for your safety. One thing to note regarding deer, they cannot detect the color orange. To deer, orange looks gray.

Trout possession limits
Question: I know that certain lakes allow the take of five trout per day. I understand if I’m fishing with my son (10 years old), we can take 10 fish. My question is, does it matter who catches how many? Do I have to stop fishing once I have five fish even though between the two of us, we do not have the limit for the day? Does it matter which fishing pole? If his fishing pole catches two fish but I help pull a fish in on his pole for him, does the fish register as my fish or his? Even though he knows how to cast, he is not strong enough to throw as far as I do. Can I cast for him? When he has a bite, can I help him with the fish as long as he is the one reeling it in? I know I am asking a lot of questions but I’ve heard people tell me different things and it’s not listed specifically in the California regulations. Just want to make sure I’m not doing anything wrong when fishing out there. Thanks for your help. (Kyosuke)

Answer: You and your son can each take five fish, and yes, it does matter who catches what. Each person is responsible for their own catches. Once you catch your bag limit, you must stop fishing. While “boat limits” are allowed when fishing on the ocean from a boat, this same practice is not allowed when fishing from shore or when fishing in freshwater. You can offer your son some assistance, but he must do his own fishing.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Please do not reply to this e-mail. DFGNews@wildlife.ca.gov is for outgoing messages only and is not checked for incoming mail. For questions about this News Release, contact the individual(s) listed above. Thank you.

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