Stowing Gear through Marine Reserves?

Question: I would like a definition of “stowed” in regard to fishing gear while transiting a state marine reserve. The reason I ask is that a sport fisherman reported he was stopped by a patrol boat at the Channel Islands and told he could have been cited for having his rods in the rod holders. He was told he should have had them in his small cuddy.

It does not seem reasonable to require my buddies and I “stow” all our rods and reels in my cabin every time we need to make a move across a state marine reserve. Or when we are at an island, we should not be required to drive six miles out, then whatever distance across, and then back in another six miles … at $4 or more a gallon. All of this would be quite a hardship for those of us fishing from private sport boats just to stow our fishing gear when maneuvering around state marine reserves. (Fred H., Anaheim)

Answer: There is no requirement for equipment to be stowed under the Marine Life Protection Act laws covered in section 632 of the California Code of Regulations Title 14. CCR Title 14, section 632(8) covers the law you are referring to as follows:

Transit or Drifting. Vessels shall be allowed to transit through marine protected areas and marine managed areas with catch onboard. Fishing gear shall not be deployed in the water while transiting through a state marine reserve. Fishing gear, except legal fishing gear used to take species identified as allowed for take in subsection 632(b), shall not be deployed in the water while transiting through a state marine recreational management area, state marine park or state marine conservation area.

How to catch an octopus?

Question: My Italian grandmother asked my brother and me to bring home some fresh octopus so that she can make her favorite pasta dish. The only problem is we don’t know how to catch them. Can you help us out? (Joe K.)

Answer: You will have to be creative on this one. Fortunately, there are no size limits on octopus and the bag limit for each of you is 35 (CCR Title 14, section 29.05(a)). California sport fishing regulations allow you to catch them only by hook and line or with the hands (CCR Title 14, section 29.10(a)). You cannot catch them with traps or spears. The most common way to successfully catch them in California is by hand while diving with snorkel or scuba equipment. It’s also unlawful to use any chemicals, such as bleach, to attempt to disturb octopi from their hiding locations.

Use of electronic calls out of season?

Question: I was wondering if it is legal to use electronic calls for animals and birds out of season for things such as bird watching or scouting? I have heard yes and no from different people, so I want to clarify. Also is it even legal to call with non-electronic calls out of season? (Taylor F.)

Answer: Yes, this would be legal as long as you do not have any methods of take with you. The prohibition against electronic calls only applies when “taking” birds/mammals (Fish and Game Code, section 3012 & CCR Title 14, section 475(b)).

Don’t eat those mussels!

Question: Yesterday we collected a few mussels at low tide at Chicken Ranch Beach with the kids (past the Inverness Yacht Club). They are of a decent size, about 3 to 4 inches, and all black. Are they safe to eat? (Ben)

Answer: Don’t eat those mussels! There is currently an advisory out against consuming sport-taken shellfish in Marin County – please see A great Q&A about mussel quarantines is located at The California Department of Public Health shellfish biotoxin information line is (510) 412-4643 or toll-free at (800) 553-4133 – you can check with them at any time to see whether there are advisories in effect for your area. And finally, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) posts advisories on the CDFW website.

# # #

Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.