Question: With the recent lawsuit halting trout stocking in so many of the state’s popular lakes and streams, how can we now realistically expect to find any quality fishing left anywhere? The situation sounds very bleak for anglers. What is the Department of Fish & Game doing about this, and what’s the best we can hope for? (Stephanie B.)

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Carrie Wilson

Answer: Despite the lawsuit, Fish & Game plans to stock at least 771 bodies of water with more than 7 million fish this next year. According to staff fisheries biologist Jim Starr, the suspension in the stocking of hatchery-reared fish in other waters is a court-ordered interim measure that will result in the DFG not stocking about 20 percent (about 180 bodies of water) of the waters normally scheduled for stocking in 2009. At the DFG, we are aware of the effect this will have on the communities that have come to depend on our fish stocking programs, and we don’t want to minimize that effect. The DFG is working to identify waters that are on the nonstocking list that may qualify to be stocked after further evaluation and consultation with the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

An important point to remember is that just because the DFG will not stock hatchery-reared fish in a given body of water (which in most cases is someone’s favorite fishing hole), there still will be fish in those waters waiting to latch onto an angler’s lure or fly.

Local governments, concessionaires and water body managers that have or may have had a private stocking permit since 2005 to stock these lakes can continue to do so, it’s just that the DFG is court-ordered not to plant any of our hatchery-reared fish in that same body of water, if it is deemed a nonstock water. And, as always, the time shared with family and friends enjoying the outdoors still will be there, not to mention all of the tall tales that will be told about the big one that got away.

Stay tuned to the DFG’s Web site at for regional information about where and how much stocking will continue throughout the state.

Question: I do a lot of hunting and fishing, and especially after long-range fishing trips I realize I have more than I really need. Is it possible for hunters and fishermen to donate surplus fish and/or game to shelters and soup kitchens? (Jason K.)

Answer: Yes. Fish and wild game can be donated to these privately run organizations (Fish & Game Code section 3080); however, several health code sections govern how they must store and process uninspected meat. Game is uninspected and generally must be stored and processed in different facilities from the inspected meats and/or with different implements. This added burden has caused many of the organizations to stop accepting the donations. The best thing to do is to call around to find out who accepts fish and/or wild game donations and find out what they require to legally accept them as donations.

Question: I was fishing last weekend, I had my fishing license on my hat, my hat flew off my head and I couldn’t get it or my license back. I don’t mind buying a new hat, but can I get a replacement license so I won’t have to buy a new license, too? (Jared P., Vacaville)

Answer: You will be able to purchase a duplicate sport-fishing license ($8.65 this year) if you have the yellow “Application for Duplicate Fishing License” carbon copy that came with your original license. Show this copy to any license vendor as they will need the number of your old license to transfer to a duplicate license to make it valid. Without this original carbon copy to show as proof of purchase of your license, you will have to pay full price for a new license.

Question: If I’m in the field upland bird hunting and a flock of ducks/geese fly overhead, am I allowed to take a shot on those birds, too? (Robert G.)

Answer: According to game warden Todd Tognazzini, if you are legally hunting upland birds and it is waterfowl season, you can shoot at waterfowl if you are using and possessing only steel shot while hunting and have the required state and federal waterfowl stamps affixed to your license. The federal stamp must be signed across its face to be valid.

Question: I have been taking my 15-year-old son duck hunting. He is licensed; I am not. Is it legal for me to use some of his duck calls as a way to be more active in the hunt? (John K.)

Answer: Absolutely! It is perfectly legal for you to accompany your son on his hunts and to participate as the caller, retriever, spotter, decoy carrier or in whatever capacity you would like. As long as you are not carrying a gun or ammunition and have no means to take (harvest) the game, you are in good shape.

I applaud you for supporting and encouraging your son in his duck hunting endeavors. Even though you won’t be actually “hunting” while with him, I’ll bet that by your interest and efforts to share in his hunt, you will enrich your son’s hunting experiences.

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