Q: My neighbor who lives a few houses down from me has a 15-year-old son who shoots his BB gun in his backyard. I used to shoot my bow in my backyard until my dad found out it’s illegal. I am 13 and live in the mountains of Southern California (close to San Bernardino) and am hoping it might be legal to practice my archery by shooting down a dirt road? Can you please let me know ASAP? Thanks. (Ashmanger)

A: Generally, Fish and Game Code laws only regulate the use of archery equipment or firearms while hunting. However, the same rules for firearms apply to archery equipment in this situation — you may not shoot over or across a road or within 150 yards of a neighbor’s home, barns or outbuildings, even if just archery target shooting (Fish and Game Code, section 3004). If you are on a private road on private property (off the public roadway), no Fish and Game Code law prohibits target practice with your bow and arrow. Beyond this, different counties and communities may have more restrictive ordinances that they enforce so you should check with your local law enforcement office for this information.

The most important factor to always keep in mind is public safety. Well-traveled roads and highways, or even those occasionally traveled, are not appropriate places to shoot. If you were to injure another person or livestock, or damage property, you could be subject to civil and possibly criminal prosecution. While shooting even just off a road may be legal, it may not be safe.

Hooks for Salmon in San Francisco Bay?

Q: When fishing for salmon from the bank in the San Francisco Bay with spinning lures, is a single barbless hook OK or does it have to be a barbless circle hook attached to the spinning lure? (Terry D.)

A: Barbless circle hooks are only required when fishing with bait and angling by any means other than trolling. Since you’re not using bait, no circle hooks are required, even though you are not trolling. You must be doing both things – using bait, and fishing in a manner that is not trolling – to be required to use barbless circle hooks. In addition, you should be using no more than two single-point, single-shank barbless hooks with your spinning lure (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.80).

Fishing Attractant or Pollutant?

Q: I have heard that spraying WD-40 on a fishing lure as a fish attractant works well. Is it legal to use? There seems to be much confusion as to what is actually in WD-40. I would also like to know if the sunscreen I put on before entering the water is hazardous to marine life. (Ray I.)

A: It is not legal to spray WD-40 on your fishing lures as an attractant. The same goes for any substance that may be harmful to fish (e.g. sunscreen).WD-40 contains petroleum and is specifically prohibited by law to be deposited or introduced into the waters of the state (Fish and Game Code, section 5650). When it comes to sunscreen, I would just try to use discretion as any foreign substance, even sunscreen, may carry chemicals that may be harmful to fish and other aquatic life if introduced in large enough quantities. General rule of thumb is when applying sunscreen, wait 20 minutes before swimming for it to completely soak into skin so that it is less likely to wash off in the water.

How to Determine Private vs. Public Property?

Q: How do I find if a body of water is legal to fish out of? I am wondering about a local lake with a public road that leads up to it. There are no private property signs posted anywhere. However, from a boat you can see signs are posted in some of the yards. (Anonymous)

A: Even though private property perimeters are required to be either fenced, under cultivation, or posted with no trespassing signs at one-third of a mile intervals (Penal Code Section 602.8) so the public knows or can determine correctly if the property is private, it’s best to stay on the safe side. If you can’t find signs specifically prohibiting access, trespassing and fishing, you may want to contact your local sheriff’s office, which should be able to define which waters and properties are public, which are private and where the boundaries are.

— Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. She can be reached at cwilson@dfg.ca.gov.