Pro Staff Blog

California Q & A



In a previous column you stated that trout could not be kept alive in a boat’s livewell, and that “upgrading” or “high grading” fish is illegal. As you probably know, “high grading” or “culling” is a common and well-publicized practice at freshwater bass fishing tournaments. Does this rule actually only apply to trout? If not, why is the DFG not enforcing these obvious violations? Thank you. (Randy P. via e-mail)


The regulation prohibiting trout from being kept alive in livewells applies just to trout and not to bass caught during a tournament. Black bass tournaments are the one exception when upgrading or culling is allowed and bass may only be culled by anglers participating in a DFG-permitted black bass fishing tournament.

The DFG issues permits authorizing the tournaments, with certain conditions. According to Senior Fishery Biologist Kyle Murphy, culling is allowed only during these contests because one of the special conditions of the permit requires the tournament sponsor to ensure that all black bass caught in the tournament are released back into the water where they were captured.

Tournament anglers successfully argued for the culling allowance before the Fish and Game Commission since anglers take extreme measures to keep the fish alive during the tournaments and all fish are released each day after the weigh-ins.

As far as the law prohibiting trout from being kept in a live condition, one of the main reasons for this law is to prevent them from being used as live bait for bass and striper fishing. It’s also the reason why the law is included in the bait regulations section rather than in the regular fishing regulations section.


We were fishing Shasta Lake recently and noticed a lot of the rainbow trout we caught and released had parasitic worms hanging off them. What can you tell me about them? (Jay S. via e-mail)


Without having a fish to examine or a description of the parasite, our best guess would be Lernaea. According to Dr. William Cox, DFG Program Manager for Fish Production and Distribution, this parasite is usually seen in warm water conditions and affects all species of fish, including trout. Since trout may move between the upper warm water areas of the lake and the cooler deep water sections, all trout, whether caught on the surface or at depth, are susceptible to carrying this Lernaea.

Another parasite called Salmincola is most often seen in gills, but may infect any part of the body. Lernaea usually is seen on skin or fins, but can also infect gills. The Lernaea are a longer threadlike parasite with double egg sacs at the end of their body. Salmincola are shorter, and often whiter in appearance (a common term is “gill maggott disease”) with similar paired egg sacs. Neither poses a threat or concern for human health.

These parasites and others that may be internal are killed during cooking, effectively eliminating any possibility of infecting humans eating the fish.

In the future if you catch diseased fish, our DFG Pathologists will examine them if you can deliver them fresh, or unfrozen but refrigerated, or on ice. Contact your local DFG office or contact our Statewide Fish Health Pathologist, Dr. Mark Adkison in Rancho Cordova, at (916) 358-2830.


I live on 20 acres out in the country and just purchased a .22 rifle so I can target practice, or maybe even hunt on my land. Is it legal for me to do this? (Tom J., Ukiah)


Generally, if you live in an unincorporated area, you may discharge a firearm. However, we strongly recommend that you first check with your county Sheriff’s office before doing so as there may be county ordinances that prohibit shooting in your particular area.

As far as hunting on your property, keep in mind that you still must have a valid hunting license to do so, and you must remain at least 150 yards (450 feet) away from any of your neighbors’ houses, barns and outbuildings, etc. unless they have given you permission to hunt closer.

With few exceptions, all federal and California fish and game laws are still in effect on all properties, no matter whether they are public or private lands.

Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. She cannot personally answer everyone’s questions but will select a few to answer in this column each week. Contact her at

Carrie Wilson

Kevin Paulson

Kevin Paulson is the Founder and CEO of His passion for Hunting began at the age of 5 hunting alongside of his father. Kevin has followed his dreams through outfitting, conservation work, videography and hunting trips around the world.

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