Question: I know a guy who was abalone diving off his kayak recently and took three abalone that all measured about 9 inches. He was diving for the big abs and so was using a 9-inch gauge, but had his required 7-inch gauge in his goody bag on the kayak. When he got back to the beach with his tagged abalone and his gauges, there was a game warden who had been watching him and wrote him a ticket for using a 9-inch gauge instead of a 7-inch gauge. Why did he get a ticket? (Tim S.)

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Carrie Wilson

Answer: Abalone divers are required to “carry a fixed-caliper measuring gauge capable of accurately measuring 7 inches” (Section 29.15[f]) and are required to retain any legal-sized abalone they detach and add them to their bag (Section 29.15[d]).

It is fine to use a gauge larger than the required 7-inch gauge to measure oversized abalone when trophy hunting. The problem occurs when a diver detaches and brings an abalone to the surface, measures it with only a 9-inch gauge, then rejects it for being smaller than their personal target size, even though the abalone may still be of the minimum legal size (7 inches or larger). This practice puts the diver in violation of the above sections, and this practice is considered “high-grading.”

According to Lt. Steve Riske, to avoid this kind of ticket, divers should not return any abalone before first measuring with a 7-inch gauge to be sure they are smaller than legal size. A 7-inch gauge should be in the immediate vicinity of where the diver surfaces (in hand, float tube or kayak) so that the abalone can be readily measured. If they then turn out to be short, the diver can return it to the same location where taken. The violation occurs when divers detach and then reject legal-sized abalone because they are seeking only the oversized ones. Click here to see how to correctly measure an abalone.

Question: While hunting or fishing, besides carrying the appropriate license(s), do I also need to have photo identification in possession, or can I leave it in my vehicle? (Gambino A.)

Answer: You will need to verify that you are the person holding your own fishing or hunting license. Although photo identification is not mandated by law, being able to identify yourself properly is. If you can’t appropriately identify who you are, you may become in extended contact with the game warden. If you’re getting cited for something, the game warden may have to take you to jail until you can be properly identified.

The bottom line is, even though the law doesn’t state that you must have photo identification in possession, it would benefit you to do so.

Question: Is it legal to use underwater attractor lights in ocean waters to attract fish to the boat? (John V.)

Answer: According to game warden Todd Tognazzini, there are no prohibitions on using underwater attractor lights in ocean waters.

Question: Is it legal for one person to have two shotguns in a duck blind? (Bob G.)

Answer: Yes, but while it’s legal to have more than one shotgun in your blind, keep in mind that there is a 25-shell limit on most public shooting areas (state and federal refuges). Hunters often forget that and bring a box of shells for each gun they have, but then are in violation of the limit.

Each gun also must be plugged and not capable of holding more than three shells in the magazine and chamber combined, and often nothing larger than 10-gauge shells are allowed in these areas. Click here for more information.

Question: Are wardens hiring now? If so, how does someone apply? How much education is required? (James S., USMC, Al Taqaddum, Iraq)

Answer: Yes, wardens are being hired — right now! The application deadline is Nov. 7.

The Department of Fish & Game is hiring for the academy class, which starts in January 2010. Click here to view the warden cadet job flier and application instructions. The site also has basic job information about what a warden does, including a new video Fish & Game produced to illustrate many of the job functions that many people don’t know about. Wardens must have the equivalent of two years (60 semester units) of college with 18 semester units in the biological sciences, police science or law enforcement, natural resources conservation, ecology or related fields.

Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish & Game. Her DFG-related question-and-answer column appears weekly at She can be reached at