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Wednesday, December 19 , 2018, 6:02 am | Fair 43º

 
 
 
 

Outdoors Q&A: Lobster Season Opens Saturday; Can Hoops Be Dropped Early?

Q: I know that lobster season opens at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. If the hoop wet time is a maximum two hours, can I drop my hoops at 10:15 p.m. Friday and pull them after midnight? (George G.)

A: No, attempting to take lobsters is “fishing,” and so if you drop your hoop nets before the season officially opens, you will be fishing out of season. Lobster season officially opens during the first minute of the first day of the season (12:01 a.m. Saturday). The two-hour wet time requirement is designed to require the net to be checked every two hours once it is legally in the water. So this means that even if you legally drop your hoop nets in the water a second after midnight, they must be serviced by 2:01 a.m.

Protocols for Packing Deer Out?

Q: I am preparing for my deer hunt and planning to hike 2½ miles one way into a place to try to harvest my deer. If I am successful, I will need to pack the animal back out by myself, and this may be an all-day sucker. If this animal is large enough, I am probably going to have to quarter it and hump it out. If this is the case, do I take the head and antlers out with the tag on them, then make successive trips back in, or how do people normally do this? I don’t want to take the head out and put it in the back of my truck, risking someone might take it, and then bring another load out and find I have no evidence. Do you have a suggested protocol I should follow? Thanks. (Rick L.)

A: Most hunters in your situation like to bring a small saw to cut the antlers and skull cap from the head as you are not required to keep the whole head of a deer you legally harvest. The law requires that upon taking a deer, you must immediately fill out the tag completely and attach it to the antlers (or ear if an antlerless hunt) and then keep it for 15 days after the close of the season. In your case, the antlers and skull cap could be placed in your locked car in a box or plastic bag until all your meat is hauled out. Depending upon the type of terrain and the size of the deer, many hunters either take out quarters of their deer, or elect to bone it out in the field.

You might also consider using a game-carrier with wheels so that you can keep your game with you at all times while packing it out. Any wildlife officer that contacts you during this process will likely want to check your tagged antlers, but wildlife officers understand that it isn’t always possible to carry the whole deer to your car in one trip.

Ocean Salmon Loophole?

Q: There has been a lot of discrepancy recently due to a bit of a loophole in the ocean salmon regulations. I have been given different answers by a number of people and would like to have it clarified. I live in Santa Cruz, and in the past few weeks there have been a lot of incidental salmon catches in shallow water while targeting rockfish or lingcod. Because it is entirely incidental catch, I don’t see a problem keeping it even though it was caught on a barbed hook. As long as it was of legal size and landed with a net, it should be ok. Of course, if you choose to keep it you would have to switch to salmon-legal gear, but until you did keep one, you can’t prevent one from slamming an iron as you’re reeling up. So basically, if I am targeting rockfish using the appropriate gear, and I catch a salmon while doing so, could I land it using the required net, and if it was 24 inches, keep it and then resume fishing with salmon legal gear? (Azure C., Santa Cruz)

A: You are incorrect about a loophole. It is unlawful to take salmon (north of Point Conception) with a barbed hook, period. No more than two single-point, single-shank barbless hooks shall be used and no more than one rod per angler when fishing for salmon or fishing from a boat with salmon on board. If an angler hooks a salmon while fishing for rockfish using barbed hooks, the fish must be immediately released.

Auto Hook Setter Legal?

Q: I do a lot of fishing in lakes and the Delta. Can an auto hook-setter be used on local lakes and rivers? Please help! (Anonymous)

A: Yes.

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

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