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Is a Hawaii spear gaff legal in California?

California Outdoors Q&A, Carrie Wilson, myoutdoorbuddy.com

s a kage (Hawaiian spear gaff) legal in California waters? I live in Southern California and I use one to very quickly dispatch legal fish. A kage is easier than a regular gaff, especially since I’m fishing on a kayak. I’m strictly a kayak angler and use my kage more often than a conventional gaff. In case you are unfamiliar with a kage, here are a few links that might help: http://deepbluekayakfishing.com/products/

http://www.scout.com/outdoors/fishing/story/1496518-kage-gaff. (Kevin M.)

Answer: The kage would not be considered a gaff and thus not be legal to use as a gaff from a kayak. A gaff is defined as “… any hook with or without a handle used to assist in landing fish or to take fish in such a manner that the fish does not take the hook voluntarily in its mouth” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.65(d)).

Hawaiian spear gaff
The kage (Hawaiian spear gaff) is a popular East Coast fishing gaff used by offshore kayak fishermen to quickly dispatch their fish. Photos courtesy of Eric McDonald of Deep Blue Kayak Fishing

A kage would be considered spearfishing gear and subject to the diving and spearfishing regulations (CCR Title 14, section 28.90). Under these regulations, you would be required to be floating or swimming in the water to use this device to take fin fish, other than those listed in this section.

It can also be considered a spear or harpoon, in which case (under CCR Title 14, section 28.95) if you were not in the water but on a kayak, boat or on the shoreline, it can only be used to take skates, rays and sharks (except white sharks). And the device can’t even be possessed on a boat when swordfish or marlin have been taken.

Where to buy a live largemouth bass?
Question: I rent a home on a property that has a pond with some quite large largemouth bass in it. The landlord lets people fish the pond on a catch-and-release basis. I caught one, easily 6-8 pounds, which managed to take the bait and large hook so deep that I could not remove the hook. I thought I had condemned the fish to a slow painful death, so rather than let it suffer, I took the fish. The owner of the pond was very upset when I told him. He said if I had just cut the line the fish would have survived. Do you have any idea where I can buy a large bass to replace the one I killed? (Daniel C.)

Answer: Replacing a fish the size of the one you’ve described is highly unlikely. Most aquaculture facilities only keep black bass up to about three inches due to cannibalism. Regarding replacing the fish though, you can find a list of licensed aquaculturists with locations and products sold (limited to those who elected to be listed) on our website. Click on the link on the right that says “List of Aquaculturists (PDF).”

Duck blind partner with overlimits
Question: I have an issue with another hunter who was in my duck blind this year. I hunted in a four man blind with three other people. Two were great, but one was being an ass. He had been shooting overlimits of pintails and stuffing them in his backpack and pretending he still didn’t have a limit. If all four of us were in the blind and he shot overlimits of pintails, who would have gotten cited? We repeatedly told him not to do this. I shot and retrieved my own ducks, as did the other two hunters in the blind. We are working on trying to kick him out of the blind next year, but any suggestions on what we should have done this year? (Ken S.)

Answer: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has a dedicated program and phone number for exactly this reason. CalTIP (Californians Turn in Poachers and Polluters) is a confidential secret witness program that encourages the public to provide factual information leading to the arrest of poachers and polluters.

CalTIP was introduced in California in 1981 in order to give Californians an opportunity to help protect the state’s fish and wildlife resources. The toll free telephone number operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You do not have to give your name. If you witness a poaching or polluting incident or any fish and wildlife violation, or have information about such a violation, immediately dial the toll free CalTIP number 1-888- 334-CALTIP (888 334-2258), 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Or you may submit anonymous tips using tip411. This is an Internet-based tool from CitizenObserver.com that enables the public to text message an anonymous tip to wildlife officers and lets the officers respond, creating an anonymous two-way conversation. Anyone with a cell phone may send an anonymous tip to CDFW by texting “CALTIP”, followed by a space and the message, to 847411 (tip411).

If you were hunting on a private club, you can take the matter up with the club manager or owner to begin with. The club should have bylaws prohibiting this unlawful and unethical behavior. If an investigation determines your hunting blind buddy is solely responsible for taking or possessing overlimits, he alone will be cited for those violations.

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 CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

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