OFF THE HOOK: Sturgeon regulations are now in effect
On Dec. 31, the Department of Fish and Game announced that new sturgeon fishing regulations would go into effect in California on Jan. 1.
Before you go sturgeon fishing in the Bay-Delta Estuary or Sacramento River this year, make sure that you carefully review the regulations and purchase your sturgeon report card.
This official announcement put an end to the confusion over the date when the new regulations would go into effect. The regulations recently passed their final hurdle in the regulatory process — the State Office of Administrative Law.
"The regulations are meant to increase the survival and spawning success of sturgeon caught and released by anglers in California and will support development of data for management of the fishery," according to a press release from Mike Taugher, DFG Communications Director. "The regulations promote sustainable management of the white sturgeon population and are consistent with federal regulation regarding the take of green sturgeon, which are protected as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act."
Several regulatory changes that affect sturgeon fishing were approved the Fish and Game Commission in 2012, including measurement methods, size limits and methods of take, according to Taugher.
• Measurement method — Sturgeon now must be measured by fork length, the straight-line distance from the tip of the head to the center of the tail. Tip of the head shall be the most anterior point on the fish with the mouth closed and the fish lying flat on its side. (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Sections 1.62, 5.80, and 27.90)
• Size limits — No fish less than 40 inches fork length or greater than 60 inches fork length may be taken or possessed. (CCR, Title 14, Sections 5.80 and 27.90)
• Methods of take — Only one single barbless hook may be used on a line when taking sturgeon. Use of a snare to assist in landing or killing any sturgeon is prohibited. A snare is a flexible loop made from any material that can be tightened like a noose around any part of the fish (CCR, Title 14, Sections 5.80 and 27.90)
• Removal from the water — White sturgeon greater than 68 inches fork length may not be removed from the water and shall be released immediately. Green sturgeon may not be removed from the water and shall be released immediately. (CCR Title 14 Sections 5.81 and 27.90)
• Clarification of Special Sierra and Valley District Sturgeon Closure — It is unlawful to take any sturgeon from the Sacramento River between Keswick Dam to the Highway 162 Bridge in Shasta, Tehama and Glenn counties. (CCR, Title 14, Sections 5.80 and 5.81)
Any person fishing for white sturgeon must have a non-transferable Sturgeon Fishing Report Card in their possession and complete it in accordance with regulations.
The daily bag and possession limit remains one white sturgeon. The annual bag limit remains three white sturgeon. See the California Ocean and Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations for complete sturgeon information.