Question: I have my own boat and take friends out lobster fishing with me. I always make sure each person has their license and report card. I also make sure each person has their own bag and keeps each lobster they catch separate as they catch them. My question is, if a game warden finds a short lobster in one of their bags, am I held responsible as the boat owner or would the owner of that bag be responsible? Also, do boat limits apply when fishing for lobster? (Jerry E.)

Answer: Lobsters may be brought to the surface of the water for measuring, but no undersize lobster may be brought aboard any boat or retained. All undersize lobsters must be released immediately into the water (California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 29.90).

According to DFG Warden Ryan Cordero, if the bag or undersized lobster is claimed by any person aboard the boat, that person would most likely be issued a citation for possession of an undersized lobster. If no one claims the lobster, the game warden can issue citations to everyone aboard the boat (joint possession), or, since the boat is property of the skipper, the skipper may be the only one cited because the undersized lobster is possessed aboard the skipper’s boat. Of course, prevention is the best solution, so if in doubt, set it free.

Sport fishing boat limits apply only to fin fish, not lobster. This means that once a lobster fisherman harvests the daily bag limit of seven, he or she may no longer fish for lobster.

Question: Is it legal to use electric reels in California? (Gerry G., Carlsbad)

Answer: Yes. Electric reels are legal to use in California for sport fishing (CCR Title 14, Section 28.70).

Question: If a person buys a hunting license and a bear tag and goes out and hunts a bear legally, then that bear belongs to that hunter. If that hunter takes all the usable parts of the bear, then those bear parts belong to that hunter. But if the bear and all of the usable parts belong to the hunter, then why can’t the hunter sell the parts of the bear to other cultures that can use them for medicinal reasons? Why do Americans think they have the right to tell other cultures what they can and can’t use in their beliefs of medicine, as long as the animals are taken legally? Who knows, maybe they can find a cure for illnesses that we don’t have today. I am a legal and ethical hunter who is about to drive out of this state for hunting because of all of the ridiculous laws, so please start thinking about changes in the laws in favor of making hunting more enjoyable for hunters. (James Rufus Smith)

Answer: California Fish and Game laws are designed to protect and preserve California’s wildlife resources. Through the enactment of these laws, the legislature grants people the privilege to take some species under very specific regulations, but has prohibited certain acts that are considered a great threat to the species’ continued existence. Selling the pieces and parts of a bear is only one example of the threats that endanger California wildlife.

According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) retired Captain Phil Nelms, the prohibition on selling bear parts is needed to protect the bear population in California and not for any other purpose or reason. Whether or not these laws impact the religious and/or cultural practices of any ethnic group and whether they should be allowed to continue is a matter for the courts to determine. In the meantime, Fish and Game wardens will continue to apply and enforce these laws with sensitivity and the understanding that all people in California are affected one way or another by the resources we all share.

Question: If we catch coons or bobcats with hounds, can we sell the furs without a trapping license since they weren’t caught with traps? (Floyd M.)

Answer: No, only furbearing and non-game mammals taken during the open season under the authority of a trapping license may be sold. In addition, bobcat pelts have to be tagged as required by CCR Tile 14, Section 479. However, a person taking these animals under the authority of a trapping license is not restricted only to using traps. Under the authority of a trapping license, it is also legal to use dogs and firearms to take raccoons and bobcats.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. She cannot personally answer everyone’s questions but will select a few to answer in this column each week. Contact her at


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