Fishing the “Alabama Rig” in California?

To legally use the Alabama Rig in California inland waters, the rig must be attached to one rod with one line and no more than three of the attached lures containing hooks.

Question: A recent innovation on the pro bass-fishing trail is something called the “Alabama Rig”, which is similar to what is called an “Umbrella Rig” by saltwater anglers. The Alabama Rig consists of five or six lures [usually plastic grubs or small swimbaits] radiating from a central attachment point by wires, imitating a school of baitfish. It looks very similar to a “mobile” that you might suspend above a baby’s crib. Since all the lures have hooks in them, would this rig be legal for inland/freshwater fishing in California for bass or other species?” (Steve C., Chico)

Answer:With the amount of money available through tournament fishing these days, anglers are constantly looking for the next big thing to help them catch more and bigger bass. We have received a lot of questions recently regarding the “Alabama Rig” and whether they are legal to use in California. Unfortunately, regulations in California differ from those in Alabama and this type of fishing tackle is not legal

According to competitive bass angler and Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Game Warden Tim Little, the traditional “Alabama Rig” is not legal to use because it contains five separate lures each with a hook. California law allows for a maximum of three lures to be used on an individual line (whether the lure has a single hook as shown in your photograph or uses three hooks as allowed by law.)

In California, “all fish may be taken only by angling with one closely attended rod and line or one hand line with not more than three hooks nor more than three artificial lures (each lure may have three hooks attached) thereto” (California Code of Regulations, section 2.00).

To legally use the Alabama Rig in California inland waters, the rig must be attached to one rod with one line and no more than three of the attached lures containing hooks. Those lures containing hooks may have no more than three hooks attached to each lure. The other two could have hookless teasers. Some people locally have even developed a modified three wire rig (now called a Cali-rig), which is legal.

What to do with prohibited aquarium sharks?
Question: I live in Southern California and maintain private fish tanks for my clients. I have a client that has a 5,000 gallon shark tank with a black tip reef shark. After hearing about other Requiem Sharks being seized (CCR Title 14, section 671 (c)(6)(A)), my client would like to know what he can do to have permits or if this shark has been grandfathered in as he bought the shark in 2008 with verifying receipts. Please let me know what we can do regarding this matter. (Ryan C.)

Answer: Unfortunately, permits are not available to possess species listed in CCR Title 14, section 671 (Importation, Transportation and Possession of Live Restricted Animals) for hobby (pet) purposes. To stay within the law, the only options are: (1) transfer the animal to another appropriately permitted facility, (2) transfer the animal out of the state, or (3) humanely destroy it (CCR Title 14, section 671.5).

Handgun with a flashlight/laser-lite combo?
Question: If I am hunting for big game with a rifle, is it legal to also carry a handgun equipped with a flashlight/laser-lite combo? The handgun would only be a sidearm for safety. (Yia L.)

Answer: Yes, it is legal as long as the handgun is not used to assist in the taking of big game.

Can a rifle hunter and an archery-only hunter hunt together?
Question: If I’m out hunting during general deer rifle season with a partner, and I have a regular deer tag and he has an archery-only (AO) tag, does that mean we cannot hunt together because I would be hunting with a rifle? It seems like technically we wouldn’t be breaking the law but I’m not sure how a warden in the field would interpret this. (Roger A.)

Answer: The restriction only applies to archers who are taking deer during the archery season and in areas where the AO tag can legally be used. As long as your individual method of take (firearm or archery) matches the tag you carry, you can legally hunt together. However, if you choose to hunt in close proximity to your friend and are contacted by a game warden, you can expect that you will be asked several questions to ensure that the special privileges granted to AO tag holders is not being compromised.

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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