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Homemade Bottle Traps, Bowfishing And License Renewals
California Outdoors 1-6-21
Soda bottle trapping for crawdads at a slough near Sacramento. CDFW Photo By Kirsten Macintyre

Homemade Bottle Traps

Question: Is it legal to use a homemade plastic bottle trap in lakes and other freshwater bodies? (Anonymous)

Answer: The 2020-2021 Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations state “Except as otherwise authorized, all fish may be taken only by angling with one closely attended rod and line (or with two rods if the angler is in possession of a valid two-rod stamp).”

However, there are two exceptions: 1) Traps can be used to catch bait fish, but only certain kinds of bait fish can be taken or used in particular bodies of water in the different fishing districts (see sections 4.05 – 4.30 of the Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations for bait fish capture methods and bait fish use). 2) California also allows the taking of crayfish with traps that are not over three feet long. Homemade traps made from soda bottles can be very effective.

Additionally, several closures designed to protect Shasta Crayfish are mentioned in California’s Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations in Title 14 section 5.35. Fall River upstream of Spring Creek Bridge, Lava Creek, Tule River and all connected waters upstream of Little Tule River, Sucker Springs Creek, Crystal Lake, Rising River and Rising River Lake are closed to take and possession of crayfish. (See Title 14 section 4.30 for prohibition against crayfish use for bait in sections of the Pit River).


Bonito Regulations

Question: I have a question regarding Pacific Bonito. California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 28.32 (b) says the minimum size is “24 inches fork length or five pounds except that: Five fish less than 24 inches fork length or weighing less than five pounds may be taken and possessed.” Does that mean I can take and possess five Pacific Bonito or less if they are any length less than 24 inches fork length? For example, could I legally keep two 12-inch Pacific Bonito per day? (Arthur)

Answer: Your interpretation of Title 14 section 28.32 is correct, so long as you possess five or fewer Pacific bonito less than five pounds or 24 inches fork length. Should you catch six or more bonito, you may only keep five fish under five pounds or 24 inches fork length and you cannot catch or possess more than 10 total.

So, assuming you did not already have more than three Pacific bonito shorter than 24 inches in your possession (which includes those at home), your example of two bonito with a length of 12 inches per day would be legal as long as the total number under five pounds or 24 inches in your possession did not exceed five and the total number in your possession did not exceed 10.


Bowfishing In Kern County?

Question: What fish are legal to bowfish for in Kern County? (Sam)

Answer: Generally speaking, bow and arrow fishing is permitted year-round in Kern County for the following species: carp, goldfish, western sucker, Sacramento blackfish, hardhead, Sacramento pikeminnow and lamprey. However, the regulations differ when bowfishing at Isabella Lake in the Kern River Valley. Bow and arrow fishing is permitted in Lake Isabella for the taking of carp, goldfish, western sucker, Sacramento blackfish, hardhead, Sacramento pikeminnow, lamprey, bullheads and catfish, per California’s Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations in Title 14 section 2.25.


Bringing A Non-Hunter Along On A Hunt

Question: Is it all right for me to bring a companion with me for quail hunting? They would not be assisting me in any way (flushing birds, calling, etc.) and would be merely shadowing me for the experience. (Kraig)

Answer: Yes, you’re fine having a companion along for the hunt, as long as they don’t participate in the actual attempt to take a bird. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recognizes that many non-hunters join licensed hunters in the field while hunting to get an idea of what it is all about. We encourage the practice and consider it a vital part of passing along the tradition of hunting. If your friend is interested in getting involved in hunting, please have them check out the Hunter Education page on the CDFW website.


Auto-Renewing A Fishing License

Question: I recently bought my 2021 fishing license at a sporting goods store. I found out after the fact that CDFW is now offering an auto-renewal option. I don’t remember being offered that option when I bought my license. When I buy my hunting license, can I sign up for auto-renewal of both licenses? (Arnold)

Answer: CDFW recently began offering auto-renewal for sport fishing licenses. If you choose this option, the credit card you provide will be charged annually in November and the next year’s fishing license will be mailed to you. This convenient option means that anglers no longer need to worry about lapses in licensure occurring during transitions to new license years. At this time, the option is only available for sport fishing licenses. CDFW expects to expand the program to include hunting licenses and related items in the future.

The only way to enroll in auto-renewal is through our Online License Sales and Services website. License agents, CDFW sales offices and telephone sales representatives cannot set up the required Customer Record Security Settings and credit card information for a customer’s record. However, regardless of how you purchased your license, you have the ability to enroll in auto-renewal at a later date by logging into your customer record through our Online License Sales and Services website.

You can find more information about the new auto-renewal option on CDFW’s website.


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