|Looking for the perfect Father’s Day gift this year? How about giving the gift of the outdoors? A California hunting or fishing license is a great way to show appreciation for dad or grandpa and make wonderful memories for many months to come.
As the third largest state in the nation, California provides many opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy the state’s famed wilderness. Half of the land is publicly owned, giving hunters and anglers access to millions of acres of public land. With more than 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, 4,172 lakes and reservoirs, and 1,100 miles of coastline that is home to hundreds of native fish and shellfish species, possibilities abound for outdoor adventure!
“The gift of fishing and hunting licenses provides endless opportunities to enjoy California’s unmatched wild places with family and friends,” said Charlton H. Bonham, director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).
Hunting and fishing licenses can be purchased at more than 1,400 license agents throughout the state as well as CDFW license sales offices. Licenses can also be purchased and printed online via CDFW’s website. If purchasing a fishing license as a gift and the purchaser does not have all of the licensee’s information, a gift license voucher will be issued. This voucher can then be redeemed at any license agent location, but it cannot be redeemed online. Hunting license gift vouchers are not available. To purchase a license online or find a local sales agent or CDFW sales office, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing.
A 2018-19 California resident hunting license costs $48.34 and is valid from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019. A 2018 California resident sportfishing license is $48.34 and is valid Jan. 1, 2018 through Dec. 31, 2018. Lifetime fishing licenses are also available.
Dad can also enjoy the outdoors without leaving the comfort of home with a subscription to Outdoor California magazine. This bi-monthly magazine offers stunning photography and insightful articles about the state’s native wildlife and habitat, and chronicles the ongoing battle against fish and wildlife crimes. A subscription costs $15 for six issues. Those wishing to subscribe can fill out the form, print and mail with a check to the address listed on the form, or subscribe online via CDFW’s licensing sales website.
An honorary donation to support California’s wildlife officers in their fight to protect California’s natural resources would also make a great Father’s Day gift. Consider purchasing a 2018 California Warden Stamp. The funds raised go toward the purchase of new equipment, specialized training and enforcement programs. The stamps can be purchased online.
Additional sections of the California coast will open up to recreational ocean salmon fishing in June. In the Klamath Management Zone, which is the area between the Oregon/California state line and Horse Mountain (40° 05’ 00” N. latitude), the season will open June 1 and continue through Sept. 3, 2018. The Fort Bragg and San Francisco areas, which extend from Horse Mountain to Point Arena (38° 57’ 30” N. latitude) and Point Arena to Pigeon Point (37° 11’ 00” N. latitude), respectively, will open June 17 and continue through Oct. 31, 2018. The Monterey area between Pigeon Point and the U.S./Mexico Border opened on Apr. 7 and will continue through July 2, 2018.
Shorter recreational ocean seasons in 2018 are the result of two key California salmon stocks attaining ‘overfished’ status this year. Both Sacramento River fall Chinook and Klamath River fall Chinook have experienced three successive years of poor adult returns, in response to the drought and poor conditions for survival.
The minimum size limit is 20 inches total length in all areas north of Pigeon Point and 24 inches in all areas south of Pigeon Point. The daily bag limit is two Chinook salmon per day. No more than two daily bag limits may be possessed when on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit. Retention of Coho Salmon (also known as Silver Salmon) is prohibited in all ocean fisheries off California.
In 2019, the recreational ocean salmon season will open Apr. 6 south of Horse Mountain. The minimum size limit will be 20 inches total length in the area from Horse Mountain to Point Arena and 24 inches total length in all areas south of Point Arena. The daily bag limit will be two Chinook salmon per day. The remainder of the 2019 ocean salmon season will be decided at the PFMC meeting in April 2019.
For the first time, state ocean salmon regulations will automatically conform to federal regulations using the new process described in the California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 1.95. Federal regulations for ocean salmon were published in the Federal Register (83 FR 19005) on May 1, 2018, and are effective as of May 1, 2018.
Public notification of any in-season change is made through the National Marine Fisheries Service Ocean Salmon Hotline. Before engaging in any fishing activity for ocean salmon, please check one of the following resources for the most up-to-date information:
- CDFW website, www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon
- National Marine Fisheries Service Ocean Salmon Hotline, (800) 662-9825
- CDFW Ocean Salmon Hotline, (707) 576-3429
Kandice Morgenstern, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2879
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds 2017-2018 Spiny Lobster Report Card holders to submit online or return their cards by April 30, 2018, as required by law. The cards must be reported even if no lobsters were taken or no attempts were made to take lobsters.
Information collected from the cards provides CDFW with data necessary to monitor and manage California’s spiny lobster fishery. Card holders should review their report cards carefully and check that the information recorded is complete and accurate.
Any 2017-2018 Spiny Lobster Report Card holder who fails to submit online or return his or her card(s) by April 30, 2018 will be charged a non-return fee of $21.60 upon purchase of a 2018-2019 Spiny Lobster Report Card. Otherwise, he or she may choose to skip the 2018-2019 fishing season to be able to purchase a spiny lobster report card a following season at no extra cost. If multiple spiny lobster report cards were purchased, all cards, including lost cards, should be reported to avoid the non-return fee when purchasing a spiny lobster report card next lobster fishing season.
Spiny Lobster Report Card data can be submitted online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/FishingHarvest or by mail to:
CDFW – Lobster Report Card
3883 Ruffin Road
San Diego, CA 92123
For additional information and a list of frequently asked questions about this program, please visit CDFW’s California Spiny Lobster webpage.
Central Valley anglers anticipating California’s general trout opener Saturday, April 28 will find many local fishing opportunities despite the flooding of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Moccasin Creek Hatchery in Tuolumne County, which supplied many Central Valley and western Sierra Nevada waters with trout.
Don Pedro Reservoir, located downstream from the Moccasin Creek Hatchery, received an emergency plant of 150,000 rainbow and brook trout late last month when CDFW was granted a small window of time to return to the evacuated hatchery and rescue fish after the hatchery was flooded by a storm-swollen and overflowing Moccasin Creek Reservoir, which sits immediately upstream from it. The total weight of trout stocked to Don Pedro immediately after the flood was approximately 40,000 pounds. This emergency measure made the best use of resources in a catastrophic situation. CDFW biologists, hatchery staff and wildlife officers worked well into early morning hours to rescue fish and stock them into Don Pedro. Don Pedro is home to many species of game fish, but hadn’t been planted with trout by CDFW since 2016. Don Pedro is open to trout fishing year-round.
The San Joaquin and Kern River hatcheries, the two other trout hatcheries in CDFW’s Central Region, will continue to provide trout angling opportunities for the area and assist Moccasin Creek Hatchery in any way possible. Approximately 20,000 catchable-sized trout also will be trucked to the Central Region from another CDFW trout hatchery to support recreational angling for the trout opener.
As CDFW was able to return to the hatchery days after the flooding and emergency fish rescue, CDFW discovered thousands of additional hatchery trout alive but stranded in ponds and pools nearby created by the floodwaters. CDFW staff rescued approximately 10,000 of these trout and released them into Moccasin Creek. Moccasin Creek opens to trout fishing April 28.
At the time of the March 22 flooding, the hatchery was holding about 1.6 million fish – mostly rainbow trout but some brook, brown and golden trout as well – in varying stages of development, from just-hatched eggs to fish weighing 1 to 2 pounds.
In addition to the loss of more than 1 million fish, the hatchery suffered extensive damage estimated at $3.2 million. CDFW doesn’t expect the hatchery to be operational until the fall of 2018 at the earliest and the hatchery might not return to full production for 18 to 24 months. In planning to get Moccasin Creek Hatchery back online, CDFW shipped several hundred thousand trout eggs to other state fish hatcheries to hatch and raise for the next several months. Additionally, other CDFW hatcheries set aside thousands of juvenile trout that will be shipped to Moccasin Creek Hatchery as soon as feasible.
Moccasin Creek Hatchery sits on land owned by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) as part of its Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System. SFPUC staff have been instrumental in providing crews and equipment for the initial clean up of mud, debris and dead fish.
Moccasin Creek Hatchery began operations in 1954 and provided trout for anglers who fish a variety of creeks, streams, rivers, lakes and reservoirs located in Tuolumne, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Calaveras, Contra Costa, Alpine and Alameda counties. The hatchery produced about 700,000 fish annually.
On average, the hatchery planted about 50,000 fish per month, but the numbers often exceeded 100,000 fish in April when waters are stocked just prior to California’s annual trout opener on the last Saturday in April.
While CDFW won’t be able to stock all the waters it had planned prior to flooding, CDFW is prioritizing the most popular trout-fishing destinations and plans to stock those waters with excess trout from some of its other 14 trout hatcheries around the state. These waters include Pinecrest Lake, Lyons Canal, the Clark’s Fork of the Stanislaus River (once the Sonora Pass opens), the Middle and South forks of the Stanislaus River, and the Middle and South forks of the Tuolumne River. All of these waters are in Tuolumne County.
Central Valley anglers making plans for the April 28 trout opener should check CDFW’s Fish Planting Schedule to see if their favorite waters have been planted with trout.
CDFW Photo: Moccasin Creek Hatchery staff, wildlife officers and fisheries biologists worked into the early morning hours of March 24 to rescue 40,000 pounds of trout from a flooded Moccasin Creek Hatchery and release the fish into nearby Don Pedro Reservoir.
Wildlife Officers Keeping a Close Eye Out for Overlimits
Law enforcement officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) have made several recent gross overlimit cases on crappie anglers in the San Joaquin Valley, prompting increased patrols for anglers targeting those fish. Crappie is a sport fish common throughout California and most of North America. The bag limit for crappie is 25 fish per day.
In one case, a wildlife officer contacted three anglers in Madera County in the early morning hours of April 12 as they pulled their boat from a local lake. They were in combined possession of 404 crappie. Subtracting out a legal limit of 25 fish each, they were in possession of a combined overlimit of 329 crappie. The three subjects are charged with a gross overlimit of crappie, possession of more than three times the bag limit and failure to show catch upon the demand of a wildlife officer. If convicted, they each face a possible jail term, fines that will potentially range between $5,000 and $40,000, forfeiture of seized fishing equipment and suspension of their fishing privileges,
In total, wildlife officers issued a total of 10 crappie overlimit citations in the last week for 636 crappie in excess of the bag limit.
“We are pleased to see excellent conditions for crappie fishing right now and many honest anglers are catching a limit,” said CDFW Assistant Chief John Baker, who oversees the Central Enforcement District out of Fresno. “These gross overlimit cases are a prime example of poachers taking advantage of good conditions and depleting our state’s limited resources. This behavior should outrage the honest anglers who abide by the law.”
Anyone who believes they are witness to unlawful poaching or pollution activity is encouraged to call CalTIP, CDFW’s confidential secret witness program, at (888) 334-2258 or send a text to tip411. Both methods allow the public to provide wildlife officers with factual information to assist with investigations. Callers may remain anonymous, if desired, and a reward can result from successful capture and prosecution.