Transporting live fish

According to the regulations:
1.63. Movement of Live Fish.
Except as provided in Sections 4.00 through 4.30 and 230, live fin fish may not be transported alive from the water where taken.​
What are Sections 4.00 through 4.30 and 230?
Does this mean I can not take live anchovies, taken at a pier, to a jetty 2 miles away?
Does it mean that fish can not be taken for an aquarium?


Ken Jones

Staff member
I talked to people in the Department and this is one of those conundrum questions to which they will not give a definitive answer.

Wardens are typically confronted with two types of situations: (1) anglers wanting to transport live fish for bait and (2) people wanting to transport live fish for their aquariums.

Both situations are technically illegal. However, there's a gray area regarding bait and most wardens will not cite an angler for transporting finfish for bait. They will almost always cite a person collecting fish for a home aquarium. Thus it is probably safe to haul anchovies from the Berkeley Marina to Ferry Point Pier to use for halibut or to transport anchovies from Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco to a Marin County pier as bait for halibut. You could probably also catch some shinerperch at one pier and take them to another pier just for the halibut. Or, to use your example, to transport anchovies from a pier to a jetty to use as bait. Nevertheless, it sounds like a warden could cite a person for such actions if they wanted to. Unfortunately this is the most definitive answer I can get.

BTW, Here's a link to the aquarium issue:
This is one of those "gray areas" which is absolutely unacceptable. For the DFW to wax "kinda sorta" about regulations and yet still be empowered to issue tickets...well, it's untenable.

The rule pertains mostly to invasive species and fresh water. There, it makes sense. But to nitpick about fish transported to the same body of saltwater a couple miles down the shore is ludicrous where it isn't just asinine. It is solely designed for revenue enhancement, and a way for a gung ho junior warden to make his bones.

This topic has come up time and again, every time the Berkeley Marina sells anchovies, and every time live shiner perch are available at bait shops. I asked a warden who was immune to hypocrisy (and possibly the rules) how it was possible to get bait shop live fish to the angling spot without violating these rules. He opined that was okay to transport bait if you had a receipt. Thus the only difference between carrying bait you caught or bait you bought was a piece of paper. Advantage, bait shop, and screw the forager.

As responsible fishermen we should obey the rules. Or accept the consequences. When it comes to a silly law about transporting live bait that is natural to the area...I choose the latter.
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Ken Jones

Staff member
Agreed! This issue, the question about catching small crabs for bait, and the issue of the DF&W refusing to issue a list of the public piers that do not require a license (even though being told to do so by the Fish and Game Commission) seems ludicrous. But, what are the options left to anglers other than to "accept the possible consequences?" Perhaps a barrage of bad publicity would help?

Ken Jones

Staff member
I will add that I do not think such actions are intended for "revenue enhancement" but they do bring in the need for more clarity as well as a better understanding of the relationship of the Fish and Game Commission and the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. People and organizations spend considerable time and money going to the Commission meetings and testifying in support for or against various proposals. The Commission then takes a vote and makes a ruling. Is that ruling a directive for the Department or simply a recommendation? I went to Sacramento and testified that we (anglers) needed a list from the Department of Fish and Wildlife as to what were the public piers and jetties. I gave them a well-researched list of what I felt should be the public piers and jetties. I was then told the Commission agreed and was told that the Department was instructed to make such a list. In response, the Department refused claiming the same "gray area" for enforcement officers. But, if they took my recommendations and made such a list there would not be a "gray area." Most people want to do what is right and want to support the Department. Pier Fishing In California has long preached that message. But issues like this muddle the water and, for some, probably weaken that support.