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Why Tag Large Trophy Trout?

friend caught a tagged fish in Deadman’s Creek near Glass Creek in Mono County. The tag was on the top fin of the fish, orange in color, about one inch long and slightly thinner than a spaghetti noodle with black printing on it. The message on the tag read: “CA DFW TROPHY – DO NOT REPORT.” What exactly does this mean? (Paul and Gloria W.)

Answer: This was likely a derby fish from Crowley Lake that migrated upstream. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Fisheries Environmental Scientist Nick Buckmaster, “CA DFW-Trophy” floy tags are put on broodstock (or any large trout) that CDFW’s Fish Springs Hatchery releases in an effort to show the fishing public that CDFW does stock fish larger than the usual “catchables.” Many of these fish go to “special waters” for tournaments or events.

According to CDFW Fish Springs Hatchery Manager Matt Norris, who oversees the hatchery that stocks Deadman Creek, we do not have record of any trophy trout being stocked in Deadman Creek, but broodstock have been placed into the Upper Owens River and Crowley Lake (downstream of Deadman Creek). In spring many of our Eastern Sierra rainbow trout move into smaller headwater streams (such as Deadman Creek) to spawn, and this may be the case here.

CDFW’s Eastern Sierras hatcheries, especially Fish Springs, have been placing floy tags on broodstock, or super catchable, fish to inform the public that CDFW is stocking larger fish than the usual two-to-four-pound fish.

Rainbow trout, photo courtesy of CDFW
Rainbow trout, photo courtesy of CDFW

Crabbing from jetties?
Question: I have a question regarding crabbing on jetties. I have a valid sports fishing license and I am wondering if I can use more than two rods on the Pillar Point jetty? I’ve always thought there are no limits on the number of rods that can be used for ocean fishing, besides on public piers and special targeted species regulations. I will be mainly using crab snares with six loops. Is a valid fishing license even required to fish on jetties? (John)

Answer: If a jetty meets the definition of a public pier, no license is required but there are gear restrictions. “On public piers, no person shall use more than two rods and lines, two hand lines, or two nets, traps or other appliances used to take crabs” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.65).

“A public pier is a publicly owned manmade structure that has the following characteristics: is connected, above the mean high tide, to the main coastline or to the landmass of a named and charted natural island; has unrestricted free access for the general public; and has been built or currently functions for the primary purpose of allowing angling access to ocean waters. Additionally, publicly owned jetties or breakwaters that are connected to land, as described above, that have free unrestricted access for the general public and whose purpose it is to form the most seaward protective boundary of an ocean harbor are public piers. Jetties, breakwaters, promenades, sea walls, moles, docks, linings, barriers and other structures that are not the most seaward protective boundary of an ocean harbor, are not public piers” (CCR Title 14, section 1.88.)

In this case, the two outermost jetties at Pillar Point Harbor meet the definition of public piers. The inner jetties do not meet the definition as they are not the most seaward protective boundary, and the harbor district currently does not allow fishing from them.

For any jetties or piers that do not meet the definition of a public pier (as in section 1.88), anglers need a fishing license and are able to use as many lines or other appliances as wanted, per regulations.

Documentation needed to collect and keep antler sheds?
Question: I work on a ranch with a lot of property. Among the wildlife on the property, there are a lot of deer. Whenever I hike around I find antler sheds. I was wondering if it is legal for me to take them, and if so, what documentation would I need to keep them? (Lindy K., Sacramento)

Answer: It is legal to collect antlers that have been naturally shed or dropped by deer or elk in California. No documentation is needed to possess them. Keep in mind that everything in nature is recycled. Many mammals, rodents in particular, gnaw on shed antlers as they are valuable sources of calcium and other micronutrients. Recognize that if you remove it from the field, you are denying that source of nutrient. Next time you find a shed antler, inspect it closely and you will often see teeth marks from these animals. Also, be sure to check local regulations because some areas (e.g. most parks) do not allow collecting of sheds in areas under their jurisdiction. Fish and Game Code, section 3039(c) provides the authority to have them and sell them.

Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at

More columns by Carrie Wilson


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