Name change removes ‘game’: It’s now Department of Fish and Wildlife

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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For several years, it was the Department of Fish and Game. However, “game” has a connotation of something hunted, and the DFG handles much more than fish and hunted critters.

Thus, there’s a new name: Department of Fish and Wildlife.

According to the department, the name was changed to reflect its ever-evolving responsibilities. The new name more reflects California’s natural resources as well.

Even the wardens have new titles. They’re now “wildlife officers.”

The department’s Web site also will be changed to, but the old Web address will continue to work in case it’s too ingrained in your memory bank.

So the department isn’t overburdened with costs to change everything immediately, many materials will bear the old name. It eventually will be replaced with the new name.


2012 report cards are due — and required


Like it or not, especially if you have hopes of obtaining next year’s tags and report cards, you need to submit your report to the DFG.

You can submit the report two ways: by mail or on the department’s Web site. The address is printed on the tag or report card. Most hunters and anglers visit the Web site, the same one where you purchase licenses and tags.

Once your profile is recognized, you can purchase licenses, fishing report cards, apply for hunts — and file your report cards.

Because the system knows what you have in your possession, it also knows what reports are required. It takes only minutes to complete the reports.

Due Dec. 1 was the Abalone report card. Don’t delay. If you haven’t made your report, do it now. Due Jan. 1 were the north coast salmon, spiny lobster and steelhead report cards.

Once you report the data online, you’ll be given a confirmation number, which you’ll want to keep for 90 days or so.


New sturgeon regulations as of Jan. 1


Still, only white sturgeon can be retained. Catch one of the rare green sturgeon, and it must be released. That aspect of the sturgeon fishery hasn’t changed.

Measurement, size limits and method of take have been changed and approved by the California Fish and Game Commission.

Measurement: Sturgeon now must be measured by fork length, meaning the straight-line distance from the tip of the head to the center of the tail. The tip of the head shall be the most anterior point on the fish with the mouth closed and the fish flat on its side.

Size: No fish shorter than 40 inches or greater than 60 inches fork length may be possessed.

Method of take: Only one single barbless hook may be used on a line. It was common for commercial sturgeon hook sets to have a pair of hooks. If you have any of these older hook sets, either cut off one hook or toss them in favor of the single hook.

Secondly, it’s now illegal to snare your fish. A snare is a flexible loop that can be tightened like a noose around any part of the fish. Nearly every sturgeon angler I know possesses a snare and would have it along on the trip. Have it now, and you’ll be in violation of the new regulations.

Closed waters: The waters of the Sacramento River between Keswick Dam to the Highway 162 Bridge in Shasta, Tehama and Glenn counties essentially are closed to sturgeon fishing.

You still must have a sturgeon report card in your possession while you fish for this prehistoric, very large, hard-fighting fish.  

The daily bag limit remains one, and the annual bag limit remains three.


Bird hunting is tough


We’re at about 150 percent of our annual rainfall. That means a lot of standing water. When standing water is limited, the high-priced clubs and numerous state and federal refuges have the greatest concentration of birds. But when there is water virtually everywhere, the birds can pick and choose where they want to land, to paddle around unmolested, to feed.

When the winds were blowing and the rains pounding, good shoots were being found. Lately, however, it’s been fog, no wind and no rain. The shooting has been tough.

We’re coming down to the final couple of weeks of the 2012-13 waterfowl hunting season. Hope for low fog to clear and stiff wind to pick up.

The Sutter National Wildlife Refuge and Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area have been closed due to forecast flooding. No reopening date has been set.

Contact George deVilbiss at