Saturday, June 23 , 2018, 4:20 pm | Overcast with Haze 67º

 
 
 
 

Outdoors Q&A: Humanely Wrangling Halibut

A well-placed shot with a spear is usually most effective, but be careful with a knife

Q: I’d like to try spearfishing for halibut. If I do find a nice one, can you tell me the best way to quickly kill the fish when I get to it to minimize any pain? There must be some spot on the fish where by using a knife, I can quickly kill it with the least suffering. (Justin M., San Diego)

Carrie Wilson
Carrie Wilson

A: A well-placed shot with a spear will immobilize a halibut fairly quickly and is probably the most efficient means of killing the fish. According to state Department of Fish and Game associate marine biologist Ed Roberts, most spear fishermen do not need to dispatch their fish after retrieving them as the actual shot usually does so. To minimize the struggle and ethically kill your halibut, direct your shots to the spine or brain. On those occasions when you may need to dispatch a halibut or other “round” fish (as opposed to a “flat” fish), bring it to the boat and strike the fish on the top of the head, in between the eyes, with a blunt instrument like a “fish billy” rather than with a knife. Trying to do so with a knife on a small boat can be dangerous.

If you are a novice, it’s probably not a good idea to attempt to struggle with and subdue a large, wounded halibut underwater with one hand while holding a sharp knife in the other. If you are determined to try to kill the fish as quickly as possible while underwater, you might consider tearing out a gill arch with your hands, or severing it with a knife. Be careful doing this, however, because halibut do have sharp gill rakers and teeth that can cause injury to unprotected fingers. Blood vessels in the arches carry copious amounts of blood to and from the gills, so severing these vessels would cause the fish to bleed to death in short order.

Is putting that much blood in the water a good idea? I’ll leave that up to you, but remember that the sound waves created by the struggling, wounded fish may attract the attention of other large predatory fish. Remember, too, that many of these predators have highly developed sensory systems, and these sensations will probably travel farther and quicker through the water than will the blood.

What to Do with Eurasian Collared Doves?

Q: I understand the Eurasian collared dove is an invasive species and there is no limit on them during dove season. I recently noticed a pair of them nesting by my house. Should I destroy them or let them be? (Gene E., Winton)

A: Although Eurasian collard doves are invasive, you should let them be. During hunting season, there is no bag limit on them, but that is the only period of time when they can be legally taken. In addition, section 3503 of the Fish and Game Code states it is unlawful to needlessly destroy the nest or eggs of any bird.

Is It OK to Fish the Bays with Two Poles?

Q: Can I fish two poles in Tomales Bay or fish any bay as long as I have the second rod stamp? (Rick)

A: In San Francisco and San Pablo bays, you can use only one fishing line with no more than three separate hooks or lures. When fishing from a boat, fishing is restricted to daylight hours only (one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset). While fishing from public piers inside San Francisco and San Pablo bays you cannot use more than two rods and lines, two hand lines, or two nets, traps or other appliances used to take crabs.

In ocean waters other than San Francisco and San Pablo bays, you may use as many poles as you can attend to for many species, but single pole restrictions apply to some species such as salmon and rockfish. The second pole stamp only applies when fishing in fresh water.

To Keep the Beard, or Not?

Q: A turkey hunting friend who lives in Vallejo but has a getaway home above Placerville shot his first turkey last weekend. We know that leaving the beard on to identify the gender is the law, but how about removing the beard at the Placerville location? Is it legal to remove the beard where he cleaned the bird, or did it need to be left intact until he got home to Vallejo? I have a feeling the latter, but need clarification. (Bill A., San Pablo)

A: During the spring hunting season, the beard must be left on to establish that the turkey is legal. It should be maintained on the bird for identification purposes during transportation to its final destination or until it is prepared for immediate consumption. During the fall season, either sex may be taken, so the beard is not required.

— Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish & Game. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >