Category Archives: Freshwater Fishing

Can You Still Catch and Release Macks After Catching a Limit?

Mackinaw trout on Lake Tahoe

Mackinaw trout on Lake Tahoe. CDFW file photo.

Question:  When fishing for mackinaw trout on Lake Tahoe, how is it legal to clearly video yourself catching six fish but then giving them away to your buddies? The limit for macks is two fish, but in this video the person keeps one on the stringer and then gives the rest away to his buddies until they all have limits together. I am assuming that if he’s posting this video to YouTube that it must legal. Am I right or wrong? (Steve S.)

Answer: Just because a video is published to YouTube, it doesn’t mean the actions are legal. What you describe is not legal in inland waters. On the ocean we have “boat limits,” which means the people on the boat can all keep fishing until the total number of all fish caught and kept equals the number of limits per person on that boat. This is not the case in inland waters, however. Each person is responsible for their own catches.

Mountain lion depredation?

Question: I live on a farm in the hills of Vacaville. If I witness a mountain lion chasing and devouring one of my goats in my herd, can I shoot and kill it on the spot? How about if I am walking on a remote trail with my dog and a mountain lion attacks my dog, can I shoot it to defend my dog? (A.J.)

Answer: Mountain lions are specially protected in California (Fish and Game Code, section 4800.) In 1990, California voters passed Proposition 117, an initiative that made it illegal to kill mountain lions except under very limited circumstances. However, if you witness a mountain lion attacking your livestock or pets, or if the mountain lion threatens you directly and poses an immediate physical threat to you, you have the right to defend yourself and your animals.

According to Fish and Game Code, section 4807(a): “Any mountain lion that is encountered while in the act of pursuing, inflicting injury to, or killing livestock, or domestic animals, may be taken immediately by the owner of the property or the owner’s employee or agent. The taking shall be reported within 72 hours to the department. The department shall investigate the depredation, and, if the mountain lion was captured, injured, or killed, the mountain lion or the entire carcass of the mountain lion which has been recovered shall be turned over to the department. Upon satisfactorily completing the investigation and receiving the mountain lion or carcass, if recovered, the department shall issue a permit confirming the requirements of this section have been met with respect to the particular mountain lion taken under these circumstances.”

While mountain lions can pose a significant threat to people, pets and livestock when natural prey species cannot be found, for the most part lions want nothing to do with us. Mountain lions are typically shy and stealthy and very few people will ever have the opportunity to see one in the wild.

For more information, please check out our living with mountain lions webpage.

Where to fish?

Question: My friend and I are planning to launch a small boat in Oceanside and then spend the day fishing about a mile off-shore. We don’t want to do anything illegal by catching an undersized fish or taking a fish that is out of season and so on. Where can we obtain a quick reference guide book on what is in/out of season, size and areas that are okay to fish in? (Steve T., Anza)

Answer: The annual Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet is always the go-to reference booklet to avoid anything illegal. In the back of the book you’ll find a table that guides you to regulations (bag limits, size limits, etc.) for specific fish species. In the front of the booklet are summary tables for groundfish, a group of over 60 fish species managed by the federal government, including rockfish. Look for the Southern Groundfish Management Area table for your area, toward the front of the booklet. Hardcopy booklets will be available soon wherever sport fishing licenses are sold and at your local CDFW office. We strongly encourage to download the book in PDF form from the CDFW website, and put it on your phone so you’ll have it as long as your phone is with you.

Fishing just outside Oceanside Harbor, you are well away from marine protected areas that prohibit fishing.

Quick reference summaries for open/closed seasons and regulation information for Southern California is located on CDFW’s website.

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