Saturday, March 17 , 2018, 10:09 pm | Fair 51º


Outdoors Q&A: What’s Too Much Help When Teaching Kids to Fish?

Clever anglers may think they can use children for props, but the kids must be involved in the activity to make it legal

Q: When my kids were learning how to fish, I would often cast the rod and set the hook for them but then allow them to fight the fish and bring it in. My question is, in the California Department of Fish & Game’s eyes, how much “help” is too much when you’re fishing with another angler? I can see how some dads might let this get out of hand by using their kids as an excuse to fish four or more rods (and to take home extra limits) when actually they are the only one doing the fishing.

Carrie Wilson
Carrie Wilson

One more question: Although kids don’t need a fishing license, is it possible to purchase a two-rod stamp for them so they can fish with two rods like I do? My son is now 14 and would like to be able to fish with two rods, too. We enjoy your column! (Vern M.)

A: We always encourage parents to teach their kids to fish, but what we often see are parents doing all of the fishing while their kids are preoccupied and playing in the background. You are allowed to help your child, but given the scenario you mentioned above, if a game warden believes you are the one doing the fishing, you may be cited. You can help your kids with the casting and all fishing activity, as long as your child is actively involved with the activity. They must be holding the rod and learning how to cast and reel. The child also must be closely attending the line. Just having a child in the area does not entitle any adult to fish without a license.

Anglers under 16 are not required to purchase a California sport fishing license and are allowed to fish with two rods in inland waters without the stamp, as long as they are fishing in an area where it is legal to use two rods.

Ed Roberts with son Daniel, proudly displaying Daniel's first bonito.
Ed Roberts with son Daniel, proudly displaying Daniel’s first bonito. (Roberts family photo)

Q: The local lagoon that sometimes supports anadromous fish is currently home to a school of striped bass. I would like to fly fish for them (catch-and-release only) but since I know steelhead may also occur here, will I need to have a steelhead report card in my possession to do so? I am not interested in fishing for steelhead and would instead prefer for them to stay in the river to run upstream and spawn. There is a very remote possibility that I might hook one, though. The regulations seem to suggest I do not need a card, but I would like to know for sure before wetting a line. (Rob K.)

A: You do not need to purchase a steelhead card unless you intend to target steelhead or to keep any you do catch. If you accidentally catch one while fishing for stripers, just return it to the water immediately.

Q: I know it is not legal to have a loaded gun in a vehicle when on public roads and in public accessible areas, but what about when on privately owned property where all access is controlled via locked gates? (Scott H.)

A: You are correct that it is against the law to carry loaded guns in a vehicle when upon or along a public way (Fish and Game Code [FGC] Section 2006 and Penal Code 12031). When behind locked gates, however, there are no laws preventing this, although common sense and safety should preclude doing so. Many of the hunting accidents we investigate are caused by people getting into or out of a vehicle with a loaded firearm. Despite this allowance, it is still unlawful to shoot at any game bird or mammal from a motor vehicle, even when on private property (FGC Section 3002.)

Q: Is it legal to take sport-caught fish to a tackle shop/distributor and trade them in for fishing tackle or trade with any other business (restaurant) for that matter? I have heard of quite a few people doing this with all sorts of fish caught from sport boats and private boats. (Walter L.)

A: No. Fish caught under the authority of a sport-fishing license cannot be bought, sold, traded or bartered in any manner (FGC Section 7121). If you have knowledge that an illegal activity is going on, I encourage you to contact our CalTIP line at 1.888.334.2258 to report it. You should provide as much information as you can that will help law enforcement in its investigation, such as locations, names, descriptions of the people, vehicle information, the time of day, where the violations are occurring, etc. Your report will be confidential and you may be eligible for a reward of up to a $500 if your tips result in convictions for the crime.

— 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).

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