Question: I have a question about safely bringing large halibut onboard. Because the Pacific halibut caught in Alaska are often over 100 pounds, deckhands use pistols or small shotguns to kill the fish before bringing them on board. This is to prevent the fish from causing damage or hurting anyone once on the deck. Would this method be legal to use in California ocean waters with large fish? Of course, the fish would already be “landed” by first being gaffed. Is it even legal to carry a pistol while fishing on a private boat near shore? (Timothy B., Morro Bay)

Answer: Sport fishermen may take halibut by hand, hook and line, spear fishing, spear, harpoon or bow and arrow (California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 28.65, 28.90 and 28.95.) Firearms are not a legal method of take for halibut, so a gun may not be used to assist in taking or landing the fish.

In some areas it may be legal to carry a pistol on a private boat but there are closures that prohibit the possession of any firearm on a boat along portions of the Monterey and San Luis Obispo county coastlines within the California Sea Otter Game Refuge. If considering carrying a pistol on your boat, you need to research local laws and ordinances within the jurisdictions you will be transiting on your fishing trip.

Whats required to catch and breed tarantulas?

Question: I’m interested in catching some local tarantulas to try breeding them. I cant find anything obviously referring to either tarantulas or prohibitions on such things. Are there any licenses required? Are there any definite prohibitions against it or any issues pertaining to the different public lands (e.g. city, county, state, federal)? (S. Godfrey)

Answer: The Fish and Game Code and its implementing regulations currently do not prohibit the take of spiders, but federal laws may apply to the take or breeding of tarantulas. You may want to consult the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding federal prohibitions, and be aware that some public lands (e.g. state and national parks, scientific reserves, etc.) have laws that prohibit the taking of any live animals. You need to check with the jurisdiction of the land on which you want to hunt tarantulas.

Distance from hoop nets allowed?

Question: How far can a fisherman be from his nets once the traps are in the water? 100 yards? 500 yards? (Dixon C.)

Answer: There is no legal limit to the distance you can travel from hoop nets you have set in a recreational pursuit of lobster or crab. However, they must be checked – lifted to the surface – at least every two hours.

Transporting a white-tailed doe deer mount into California

Question: I am looking to add a mounted white-tail doe head to the family cabin but want to be sure before buying it. It was legally taken and mounted in another state. From what I hear, its really old. I dont believe they are native to California but I want to be sure its legal to do before purchasing and transporting it here. (Kristi D.)

Answer: Yes, it is legal in California for you to purchase the taxidermied head of either sex of a white tail deer. California Fish and Game law (Fish and Game Code, section 3039) only prohibits buying or selling any species of bird or mammal that occurs in the wild in California. We have only mule deer and black tail deer here.

One thing you must do before importing it into California is to complete and submit the Declaration for Entry form available online at

In addition, when shipping wildlife into California, there are certain requirements regarding how to properly mark containers containing wildlife. Any package in which birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians, or parts thereof, are offered for transportation to, or are transported or received for transportation by, a common carrier or his or her agent shall bear the name and address of the shipper and of the consignee and an accurate description of the numbers and kinds of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians contained therein clearly and conspicuously marked on the outside thereof. (FGC, section 2348).


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