Outdoors: Losing your heads against fishing rules

Question: I was wondering if it’s mandatory to have to give up my salmon heads when the volunteer fish checkers come around to measure my fish? I thought it was my choice. Gary B

Answer: Yes, it’s mandatory. The surveyors at the dock collecting heads are not volunteers; they are paid, trained and educated biologists. Anglers in possession of a salmon with a clipped adipose fin are required to relinquish the head to these Department of Fish and Game employees.

Q: There is a red-shouldered hawk that frequents my daughter’s deck in San Rafael. The hawk seems to enjoy scanning from the railing for critters it might like to eat. This bird appears to have a silver tag on its right leg just above the claw, but I can’t read the writing. I was wondering if DFG or any agencies that you know of have a tagging program for hawks? Ken M., Oakland

A: Yes, there are numerous researchers in and outside of California who capture and mark birds. Carrie Battistone, the Department of Fish and Game’s raptor biologist, says identification bands should be reported to the USGS Bird Banding Lab (BBL) at http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bbl/. If someone sees a marked bird, such as this red-shouldered hawk, they can report it by accessing BBL’s Web site and clicking the “Report a Bird Band or Marked Bird” link. This national program allows researchers to study bird movement (dispersal and migration patterns), survival, population trends and more.

Many bands are reported when a bird is recaptured or dies. Reading the band number can be hard, but not impossible, on live birds. In addition to silver bands, researchers also use color bands which usually are easier to identify.

Q: If an area is posted “closed to fishing,” like the stretch of the Feather River between the green bridge in Oroville and the fish hatchery, is it still OK to use crayfish traps? Or are crayfish traps considered “fishing”? Al C., Oroville

A: No, you cannot use crayfish traps on a posted stretch. Lt. Sam Castillo of the DFG says this particular area is “Closed to all fishing all year.” The law is inclusive of all species and is not specific to trout and salmon. Some other no-fishing areas will allow for the take of amphibians, fresh water clams, crayfish and lampreys, but this isn’t one of them.

Q: We do not have a concealed carry permit but while camping we keep a loaded pistol in our camper for personal protection. We would prefer not to leave it in the camper while we are out on the boat fishing. Is it legal to carry a loaded pistol on a boat while fishing in the ocean? If so, does it have to be in plain sight or can it be kept in a glove box on the boat? Lisa G., Granite Bay

A: In general, you cannot possess a loaded, concealed handgun when in a public place. There is an exception for licensed anglers and hunters, who are allowed to carry a concealed firearm when engaged in hunting or fishing. A summary of firearms laws is available online at http://dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/.

Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. Contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

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Outdoors: Losing your heads against fishing rules