July 6 is Free Fishing Day in California

Mark your calendars for the first of two 2019 Free Fishing Days in California, when anyone can try their hand at angling – no fishing license required. If you would like to fish the rest of the year, you can purchase a license online through CDFW’s website.

“Free Fishing Day is a great opportunity for seasoned anglers to introduce friends and neighbors to their love of the sport,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife (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 either an annual or one-day license. This year, the first of the two Free Fishing Days falls on the Saturday of Independence Day weekend. The second will be on Saturday, Aug. 31.

All fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect. Every angler must 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 can review the sport fishing regulations online (www.wildlife.ca.gov/regulations) or use CDFW’s mobile web site to view freshwater limits and regulations specific to a body of water (https://map.dfg.ca.gov/sportfishingregs/).

Please note: CDFW has recently been made aware of customer complaints that third party websites are offering California fishing licenses for sale at greatly inflated prices. We urge customers not to provide credit card numbers, social security numbers or any other personal information to these sites. The CDFW website, License and Revenue Branch locations and CDFW license agents are the only state-authorized sources for California fishing licenses.

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Media Contact:
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

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

CDFW to Sell Hunting and Fishing Licenses, Answer Questions from the Public and More at Annual Sportsmen’s Show

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is returning to the International Sportsmen’s Exposition (ISE) at Cal Expo in Sacramento Jan. 17-20. This is the largest hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation show of its kind in northern California.

Wildlife officers, fisheries and wildlife scientists, hunter education instructors, license agents and other CDFW staff will be available during the show to answer questions and provide information regarding fishing and hunting opportunities throughout the state. CDFW’s license sales booth will be located in the Pavilion Building (adjoining spaces 3700 and 3822) and licenses, tags, report cards and warden stamps will be available for purchase. Customers may pay by credit card or check.

For the sixth year, CDFW’s top leadership – including Fisheries and Wildlife Division Deputy Director Stafford Lehr, Fisheries Branch Chief Kevin Shaffer, Wildlife Branch Chief Kari Lewis and Deputy Director/Chief of Law Enforcement David Bess – will hold a panel discussion about topics of interest to California’s hunters and anglers. The open-forum panel will be held at noon on Saturday, Jan. 19 in the California Sportsmen’s Theater in the Pavilion Building. Audience members are encouraged to ask questions of the panel. Immediately following will be the Youth Essay Contest award presentation (see below for additional information).

“We look forward to speaking directly to our constituents about department operations as we have for the past five years,” said Bess. “We welcome direct conversation both at the panel discussion and with our many staff at our other booths in the venue.”

Additional CDFW booths and highlights include:

  • Hunter Education Program — Located in the Youth Fair Expo Center, wildlife officers and hunter education instructors will be available to answer questions and provide information about basic, advanced and bowhunter education. Interactive training materials, including a free laser-shot hunting simulator, will also be available.
  • K-9 Teams — CDFW K-9 wardens and their wildlife officer handlers will be available for questions and interactions. Look for them at CDFW booths.
  • Wildlife Officer Recruitment — CDFW’s Law Enforcement trailer will be on display outside of the Pavilion Building, featuring a display of taxidermy and a free enclosed laser-shot hunting simulator. Wildlife officers will be on hand to answer questions about employment opportunities.
  • CDFW Youth Fair Exhibit — Explore the salmon life cycle and try your luck on the Salmon Survival Spin. Play a round of salmon bingo, learn to cast or view the new Mobile Fish Exhibit.
  • Keep Me Wild Booth — Information about black bears will be available at the Youth Fair. Youths can make a bear track and help a black bear find the way to its cave. CDFW also has information about how to vacation safely in bear country.
  • 2019 Warden Stamps — At the main booth, CDFW will be offering and promoting this year’s stamp. Proceeds from the $5 stamp support wildlife officers and K-9 teams, and help fund the purchase of necessary law enforcement equipment.
  • Online Harvest Reporting — Tag holders can view their online profile and complete all tags that require reporting. The tag holder will receive a report confirmation number that should be written in the space provided on the report card. The harvest report card will not have to be mailed in physically. CDFW encourages all tag holders to use this online service to meet their harvest reporting requirements.
  • Outdoor California — Free copies of CDFW’s award-winning magazine will be available (as supplies last) at the main booth.
  • Youth Essay Contest — CDFW and the California Wildlife Officer Foundation will be awarding this year’s contest winner, 16-year-old Noah Lo of Stockton, a lifetime hunting license for his outstanding essay emphasizing the theme, “The Positive Impact of Hunting on Your Life.” Lo and the second- and third-place contest winners will be honored on Saturday, Jan. 19 at approximately 12:45 p.m. at the California Sportsmen’s Theater in the Pavilion Building. Stop by to congratulate them and get information on how to become the next youth contest winner.

The Cal Expo State Fairgrounds are located at 1600 Exposition Blvd. in Sacramento. ISE show hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $16 for adults (tickets may be purchased in advance online). Youths age 15 and under are free. There is a $10 charge to park on the grounds.

For additional information and schedules, and to purchase tickets, please visit www.sportsexpos.com/attend/sacramento.

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Media Contacts:
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 825-7120
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-6692

 

Anglers Encouraged to Return Sturgeon Tags for Recognition and Monetary Reward

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed its annual sturgeon tagging program, catching and releasing nearly 400 sturgeon in Bay Area waters.  Many of the tags are eligible for a reward if returned to CDFW by anglers.

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The tagging operation is used to help manage California’s green and white sturgeon populations. Information received from anglers about tagged sturgeon complements the details submitted on sturgeon fishing report cards as well as data from party boats, creel surveys, surveys for juvenile sturgeon and various special studies.

CDFW offers monetary rewards for the return of certain marked tags. The tags are smaller than a dime and located behind the rear dorsal fin. Anglers who return a tag will also receive a certificate of appreciation from CDFW. Additional information and the form for returning tags can be found on the CDFW website.

“Protecting the white sturgeon fishery and the sturgeon populations requires research, collaboration, adaptive management and enforcement,” said CDFW Program Manager Marty Gingras. “Angler participation is a vital component of the information-gathering process – we rely on them to help us complete the loop.”

Working in Suisun and San Pablo bays from August through October, crews collected information on 18 green sturgeon, tagged 190 white sturgeon, and collected information on 169 white sturgeon that were either too small or too large to tag. In an ongoing collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and a new collaboration with San Francisco Estuary Institute, USFWS staff was also on board CDFW boats to collect various tissues as part of an age-and-growth study and a study monitoring selenium concentrations in white sturgeon.

The Sacramento-San Joaquin river system is the southernmost spawning grounds for both white sturgeon and green sturgeon.  Sturgeon in California can live more than 100 years and weigh over 500 pounds, but anglers most often catch sturgeon 3-4 feet in length.  The sturgeon fishery in California was once closed for decades due to overfishing. Today, commercial harvest of white sturgeon is not allowed, and recreational harvest of white sturgeon is regulated by size limit, daily bag limit and annual bag limit. Green sturgeon is a threatened species and neither commercial nor recreational harvest of those fish is allowed.

Serialized tags are provided with each sturgeon fishing report card to help enforce the bag limits. To enable law enforcement to cross-reference the tag with a particular card, anglers must permanently fix a tag to each kept white sturgeon until the fish is processed for consumption.

Anglers are required to return their 2015 sturgeon fishing report cards by Jan. 31, 2016.

Media Contact:
Marty Gingras, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (209) 234-3486
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

CDFW Offers Special Opportunities and Reduced-Fee Licenses for Disabled Veterans

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) offer reduced-fee hunting and fishing licenses to both resident and nonresident disabled veterans. CDFW also offers several special hunting opportunities for eligible veterans.

Any honorably discharged, disabled veteran with a 50 percent or greater service-connected disability who wants to fish or hunt in California is eligible.  Disabled veterans can now prequalify to purchase reduced-fee disabled veteran licenses via e-mail.  Once a disabled veteran has pre-qualified, they can purchase low-cost disabled veteran sport fishing and/or hunting licenses, each year, anywhere licenses are sold.  Information on how to prequalify for a disabled veteran license is available on the sport fishing licenses web page, under the “Free and Reduced Fee” tab.

The 2015 Disabled Veteran Sport Fishing License and Disabled Veteran Hunting License cost only $6.95 each when purchased at CDFW license counters.

Special hunting blinds have been constructed to be accessible to people with mobility impairments at some state wildlife areas and ecological reserves, and at some National Wildlife Refuges.

CDFW will try to accommodate any qualified hunter with a disability, but they must have drawn a tag for that hunt. If you have any questions or requests regarding accessibility, please contact CDFW’s Accessibility Coordinator Melissa Carlin at (916) 651-1214.

“If a person with a disability draws a tag, they should contact the hunt coordinator directly so we can accommodate them for that hunt, or find them another opportunity,” said Karen Fothergill, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Wildlife Branch. “This process allows for more flexibility for offering opportunity that best works for an individual.”

CDFW also works with military installations on wildlife management and provides tags for those installations to issue to military personnel for deer and Tule elk hunting opportunities.

Certification from the United States Department of Veterans’ Affairs and proof of completion of a hunter education course is required at the time of application. The first license must be purchased from a CDFW License Sales Office. Subsequent licenses may be purchased from any license agent or online, and at that time, a copy of a previous year’s California Disabled Veteran’s Hunting License will serve as identification.

Fish and Game Code, section 7150, authorizes CDFW to issue Reduced-Fee Sport Fishing Licenses to anglers who meet specific criteria. Additional validations or cards are required for certain species and areas and must be purchased at the regular fee.

The 2016 reduced-fee fishing license applications and reduced-fee hunting license applications are now available online. All California sport fishing licenses are valid Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 each year, and make excellent holiday gifts for veterans. Hunting licenses are valid July 1 through June 30.

Fishing and hunting regulations, as well as more information about licenses, are available on the CDFW website.

Media Contact:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

CDFW Simplifies Steelhead Report and Restoration Card

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) has simplified its 2016 steelhead report card.

The new card is shorter and easier to fill out. It provides anglers with clear and concise reporting instructions, consolidates location codes and better defines the data being collected.

Major changes to the 2016 card include:

  • A reduction of location codes from 73 to 20
  • The addition of a “did not fish” check box above the reporting section
  • Simplification of report card language
  • Clarification of reporting instructions

The consolidation of location codes benefits the angler by making it easier to identify which location code they are fishing in, while the simplification of language helps anglers more easily determine what data must be recorded and how to comply with the reporting requirement.

The steelhead data collected by anglers is important and aids CDFW in making management decisions, and is used to determine catch trends for specific watersheds. Revenue generated by report card sales is dedicated to steelhead restoration projects which contribute to the conservation and recovery of steelhead populations and benefit both the species and anglers.

Reporting online is preferred as it increases the accuracy of data and reduces data entry and administrative costs, and allows for more funds to be used for statewide steelhead restoration.

For more information regarding the Steelhead Report and Restoration Card Program and how data is utilized, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/steelheadcard. To enter your steelhead report card information online, please login to the CDFW online license sales and service system at https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Online-Sales.

Media Contacts:
Farhat Bajjaliya, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 327-8855
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944