DFG Clarifies Culling Rules: Better Option is to Catch and Release

Responding to inquiries from recreational anglers, the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is clarifying its 2005 Freshwater Fishing Regulations concerning the practice of "culling," or replacing, fish.

Longstanding state fishing regulations prohibit anglers from continuing to fish for a particular species after they have a limit of that species in their possession. These regulations apply to participants in black bass fishing contests, requiring that, when possible, all fish shall be returned to the water alive and in good condition.

State angling regulations do not define culling. However, anglers can abide by existing regulations by practicing catch-and-release before they reach their daily bag limit. For example, if the daily bag limit for black bass is five, anglers that have four black bass in possession must decide whether to release the fifth fish and continue fishing, keep the fifth fish and release a previously caught fish alive and continue fishing, or keep the fifth fish and stop fishing.

DFG has received several inquiries from bass tournament organizers concerning these regulations. Many organizers have reduced tournament limits to better control the number of fish handled during the weigh-in process. However, some sponsors continue to promote a five-fish per angler limit.

The freshwater fishing regulations booklet can be found at license agents and DFG offices. DFG's website provides an electronic version of all regulations booklets at www.dfg.ca.gov. Additional information regarding black bass tournament regulations can also be found on the website.