CDFW Warns of Continued Fraudulent License Sales Operations

If you are in the market for a California fishing or hunting license (or any related products, such as hunting tags), please ensure that you are making your purchase from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) or an approved vendor.

Several unauthorized online websites are continuing to improperly charge customers extra fees for online fishing and hunting license purchases, and may be collecting sensitive personal information as part of their unauthorized transactions.

California hunting and fishing licenses may properly be purchased in only one of four ways:

Because CDFW’s license sales offices and some independent license sales agent offices have been temporarily closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19, there has been a surge in online sales over the summer months. Unscrupulous website operators and scammers are taking advantage of increased virtual traffic, and the public should take extra precautions to ensure they do not fall victim to a scam.

Since June 2019, six websites offering unauthorized license sales have been taken down at CDFW’s behest, and an additional two websites are in the process of being disabled.

The ALDS, which is CDFW’s exclusive means of online license sales, was launched in 2011. ALDS can be accessed via CDFW’s website or by clicking the link that is frequently provided in official communications from the department. When making an online purchase, please check the URL of the site you are visiting to ensure you are on the official CDFW website (wildlife.ca.gov) or the ALDS website (www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales). These are the only CDFW-affiliated links for hunting and fishing license sales.

Unofficial websites may attempt to represent CDFW and/or contain information about hunting and fishing licenses, and Internet search engines may not always list the official CDFW website as the top result.

Please be cautious when providing personal information to any website. While authorized purchases made through independent license sales agents and ALDS are subject to an additional 5 percent handling fee, the fraudulent sales websites offer products for sale with “shipping and handling fees” that are much higher than 5 percent of the base purchase price. To date, it appears that the fraudulent activity has been limited to charging customers unauthorized fees. Licenses that have been mailed to customers after unauthorized transactions may be valid; however, CDFW cannot guarantee that this is or will be true in all cases.

If you believe you may have been defrauded by an unauthorized website or would like to check the validity of a previous purchase, please provide us with information about your experience at ReportFraud@wildlife.ca.gov.

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Media Contacts:
Stephen Adams, CDFW Information Systems Branch, (916) 323-1456
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

boy and dad fishing

Aug. 31 is Free Fishing Day in California

Don’t miss the last chance to fish for free this year! Free Fishing Day in California is being offered by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Saturday, Aug. 31, during Labor Day weekend.

“Free Fishing Day is a great opportunity for experienced anglers to share their love of the sport with someone who’s never tried it,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham.

A basic annual resident sport fishing license in California currently costs $49.94, while a one-day sport fishing license costs $16.20. CDFW offers two Free Fishing Days each year – usually around the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend – when it’s legal to fish without one. If you would like to fish the rest of the year, please go to CDFW’s website for information about purchasing a license.

All fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect on Free Fishing Day. Every angler must also have an appropriate report card if they are fishing for steelhead or sturgeon anywhere in the state, or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems.

Anglers of all skill levels can get ideas of where to fish by using CDFW’s online Fishing Guide.

Before you head out to your favorite lake or stream, please review the freshwater fishing regulations or ocean fishing regulations  online or use CDFW’s mobile web site to view limits and regulations specific to a body of water.

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Media Contacts:
Jen Benedet, CDFW Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation Program, (916) 903-9270

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Give the Gift of the Outdoors for Father’s Day

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.

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Media Contacts:
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824

Map-based Sport Fishing Regulations Offers Ease of Use for Anglers

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has launched a beta release of an online location-based Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations tool to help anglers identify those regulations that relate to the area they plan to fish. The new tool provides an easy way for anglers to find the sections of the regulations that are relevant to them.

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The new fishing regulations tool can be found at https://map.dfg.ca.gov/sportfishingregs/. It is designed to work on a smart phone, tablet or desktop computer.

When accessed from a smart phone or a tablet with GPS, the map-based tool will automatically present the angler with the sport fishing regulations that apply to their current location based on the GPS in the device. When accessed from a tablet without GPS or from a desktop computer, the user can click anywhere on the map to discover the regulations for that area.

The new tool includes the Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet, found on our Regulations webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/regulations.

The regulations are also now available in the existing Fishing Guide, available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/guide.

“This is a big step forward in making the complex fishing regulations more accessible to the angling community,” said CDFW Acting Fisheries Branch Chief Roger Bloom. “As we continue to simplify our fishing regulations, they will be kept up-to-date within this new tool.”

This is a beta release that CDFW staff will be actively working to improve. CDFW welcomes comments or suggestions for improvement. Please send feedback to fishingguide@wildlife.ca.gov.

Media Contacts:
Roger Bloom, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 445-3777
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

General Trout Season Opens Saturday

The general trout opener in many counties throughout California will commence on Saturday, April 30, one hour before sunrise.

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Because of the popularity of this annual event with the angling public, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is making every effort to stock trout in all accessible waters approved for planting prior to the season opener. Because of the increased rains this winter, CDFW expects most lakes to be open and available for fishing.

Most lakes, rivers and streams have a limit of five trout per day and 10 in possession. However, regulations differ on season opening and closing dates, bag limits, minimum and maximum size limits and gear restrictions.

Anglers are advised to check specific area regulations and opening dates in the 2016-17 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulation booklet (www.wildlife.ca.gov/regulations) for regulations specific to each body of water.

In 2012, CDFW regional staff created the Eastern Sierra Back Country Fishing Guide to provide anglers with a quick, informative and accurate account of the distribution of fisheries in back country high elevation lakes. This guide does not address front country waters, defined as lakes and streams that are accessible by vehicle. Most of the lakes lie within U.S. Forest Service lands managed as wilderness and usually require back country permits for overnight use. Most back country fisheries are based on self-sustaining populations of trout and do not need regular trout stocking to maintain fish populations. The guide can be found at https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regions/6 (under Hunting, Fishing, Education).

Crowley Lake in the Eastern Sierra is expected to be one of the most popular opening day destinations for anglers from around the state. In past years, an estimated 10,000 anglers have turned out for the opener, and approximately 50,000 trout are caught during the first week of the season. Typically Crowley is planted with hundreds of thousands of small and medium sized trout, and because of excellent food sources in the 5,280-acre reservoir, these trout grow to catchable sizes and weigh at least three-quarters of a pound by the opener. About 10 percent of the trout caught at Crowley during opening weekend weigh over a pound and a half. These fish are from stocks planted in previous years or are wild fish produced in Crowley’s tributary waters.

Anglers are asked to be particularly vigilant when cleaning fish and fishing gear at Crowley Lake and in the upper and lower Owens River Drainage. The New Zealand Mudsnail was discovered several years ago in the Owens River Drainage, and CDFW would like to prevent mudsnails from spreading into other waters. To avoid spreading New Zealand Mudsnails and other aquatic invasive species to other waters, anglers are advised to dispose of their fish guts in bear-proof trash cans, rather than throw them back into the water. Wading gear should be properly cleaned before using in new waters.

All persons age 16 and older must possess a valid California fishing license to fish within state lines. Freshwater fishing licenses can be purchased online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/online-sales or at regional CDFW offices or other license agents. Anglers no longer have to display their license visibly above the waist but they must have it in their possession while fishing.

Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944
James Erdman, CDFW Environmental Scientist, (760) 873-6071