In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Pete Thomas Outdoors, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly California Outdoors Q&A column:
Question: Last year before the end of rockfish season, I went on a charter boat out of Berkeley. Some of the lingcod caught were females with eggs. When do lingcod spawn and can keeping these females hurt the fishery in the future? Should we as anglers release females like we do for striped bass? I’m glad to see the size limit dropped and the season longer, but I don’t want to be back to where we were before. (Jason Green)
Answer: Lingcod and other groundfish are federally managed. Harvest management plans and stock assessments take into account the removal of both males and females when setting quotas, so fishery managers do factor in the take of females, too.
According to Department of Fish and Game Environmental Biologist Travis Tanaka, the lingcod stock has fully recovered from their overfished status and so the spawning closure is no longer required to protect the stocks. Lingcod don’t get the bends (no swim bladder), so females can be released if handled properly.
In northern and central California, the primary reason for the current closed seasons for lingcod in late fall, winter and spring for boat-based anglers, and from December through March for shore-based anglers, is to protect mature females that have moved inshore to spawn and to protect the mature males that guard the egg nests.
Lingcod are a species that if handled properly can often be successfully caught and released. However, unless regulations prohibit keeping the fish (e.g. bag and minimum size limits) or the angler is releasing all fish, if it turns out the fish has been improperly handled or is bleeding and may not survive, the fish should be kept. Releasing bleeding females that may not survive in order to keep males instead just wastes fish and is not a good conservation method.
Lingcod generally spawn from November through February. Females do take longer to mature and they grow to a larger size than males. By some estimates, males only grow to 24-26 inches. Females are legal to keep, so keeping an egg-laden female would be up to that fisherman’s personal ethics. In addition, the practice of divers choosing to shoot male lingcod while they are guarding the egg beds is not prohibited, but it is a reflection of that fisherman’s ethics.
Bottom line … female lingcod are legal to take and so it’s up to the fisherman to decide whether or not they want to.
Q: Who can I talk to about planting wild turkeys on private property? I am not sure if it is legal to plant turkeys. If it is legal, do I need a permit? And if so, how do I get one? (Steve H.)
According to DFG Wild Turkey Biologist Scott Gardner, only DFG can release wild turkeys (no game farm birds) into the wild. However, we are not planting turkeys due to recent nuisance problems and other issues.
Does the property where you’d like to plant turkeys contain habitat that would be attractive to wild turkeys? Have you seen turkeys nearby? If either of these are true then you probably already have turkeys. It’s almost guaranteed that even if we were to plant birds on your property, they would likely not stay without the appropriate habitat.
Be careful about game farm birds that are being sold as wild turkeys, too. Besides the fact that they are specifically illegal to release into the wild, they aren’t wild turkeys, Gardner says, despite what they look like. A wild turkey must be raised in the wild by a hen right from hatching to learn to be a wild turkey. Otherwise they are maybe just a step up from livestock.
Q: Can two Cali-rigs (Alabama rigs with only three hooks) be fished simultaneously on separate poles as long as the angler has a second pole stamp on their license? (Kayak fishing Ron)
A: Yes, as long as the angler taking fish with two rods or lines in most inland waters has the two rod stamp.
If you have a question you would like to see answered in this column, e-mail it to CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.
Image of a male lingcod guarding the egg nest courtesy of Matt Elyash via California Department of Fish and Game