Pixel Tracker

Saturday, November 17 , 2018, 8:28 am | Mostly Cloudy with Haze 60º

 
 
 
 

Outdoors Q&A: Making Sense of Bait Regulations

The redear sunfish is commonly caught for bait in the Valley District, authorized under CCR Title 14, section 4.20(d). (Roger Bloom)

Question: Is it legal to catch sunfish and use them as live bait for bigger fish? What kind of live bait can you use in freshwater? (Anonymous)

Answer: Those are seemingly simple questions, but the answers are complicated and detailed.

The basic answer is: It depends. It depends on the California Sport Fishing District where you will be fishing, the individual body of water you plan to fish and the species of live bait you intend to use.

For starters, review the Bait Regulations for Inland Waters published in the 2017-2018 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations. On page 2 of the regulations booklet, you’ll find a map of the seven different California Sport Fishing Districts.

Each sport fishing district will have its own additional regulations on what kind of live bait is allowed, along with water-specific, area-specific and bait-specific regulations.

There are variables between districts to authorize or prohibit movement of live fish from the location where captured, so pay close attention.

In the Valley Sport Fishing District, for example, which covers all or parts of 25 counties in the middle part of the state, live or dead fin fish (which includes sunfish) generally can't be used as bait (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 4.20).

However, there are exceptions to the general prohibition, and certain waters where live fin fish lawfully caught can be used for live bait in the waters where they were caught (CCR Title 14, section 4.20(a)-(f)).

In the Southern Sport Fishing District, by contrast, which covers all or part of seven Southern California counties, sunfish may never be used as live bait though some other fish species may be used (CCR Title 14, section 4.10).

So it’s imperative to check the Bait Fish Use regulations in the sport fishing district you plan to fish before using any live bait. All of these regulations are available in the 2017-2018 California Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.

Catching grass shrimp for bait?

Q: My friend and I recently found out how to catch grass shrimp for bait, and we are wondering what the regulations are. I see on the CDFW website that the limit is five pounds. Does that mean we can take five pounds of grass shrimp home alive?

I also saw a commercial license for harvest of grass shrimp. Would we need that as well? We don’t plan on selling them. We just want to use them for fishing as they are larger than store-bought ones and native to the area. (Pean S.)

A: Congratulations on your new skill. Catching and fishing with your own bait, where legal to do so, adds yet another dimension to the fishing experience.

Grass shrimp — also known as bay shrimp — are an effective and popular bait in some areas. One of the reasons they can be so effective when used in the area where caught is that they are most likely a natural food preference of the target fish.

Grass shrimp are crustaceans, and a sport fishing license is required of any person who is 16 or older to take any kind of crustacean in California, except when taken from a public pier in ocean or bay waters.

You do not need a commercial fishing license or shrimp permit since the grass shrimp are for your own recreational use. You are correct in that the sport fishing limit is five pounds per angler (CCR Title 14, section 29.86).

Grass shrimp may be kept and used alive or dead as the law makes no distinction.

Please note, there are several restrictions and regulations on the gear and methods that can be used to take grass shrimp and other crustaceans (CCR Title 14, section 29.80).

These regulations can be found on pages 36-37 of the 2017-18 California Saltwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.

We wish you the best of luck and encourage you to teach others the skills you have developed to share a more holistic fishing experience.

 What is a “resident?”

Q: I just bought a fishing license. How do the regulations define who a “resident” is in reference to buying a fishing license? (Michael)

A: Section 70 of the Fish and Game Code defines “resident” as any person who has resided continuously in the state of California for six months or more immediately prior to the date of his application for a license or permit, any person on active military duty with the Armed Forces of the United States or auxiliary branch thereof, or any person enrolled in the Job Corps established pursuant to section 2883 of Title 29 of the United States Code.

Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. She can be reached at [email protected].

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 using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • 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.