Wet Suit: Most abs in Northern California are in cold (50 F) water.
Dive Light: This is optional, but under the kelp canopy and in holes it can be quite dark.
Ab Measure: Only legal size abs can be taken. Know the size before taking the ab.
Fishing License with Ab Sticker: You need to keep a current fishing license with the ab sticker to take abalone legally. You will also need an Abalone Report Card.
Abalone [ah bal ohn ee] or [ah ba lone ee] (plural: abalone) are sometimes called ab (sigular slang) or abs (plural slang). Abalone are heavy shelled mollusks (cousin to garden snails and built like half a clam).
Abs have a basic design. A hard protective shell covers all vital organs. Respiration occurs through a row of respiratory pores. The muscular foot has a strong suction power permitting the abalone to clamp mightily to rocky surfaces. A column of shell muscle attaches the body to its shell. The mantle circles the foot as does the epipodium, a sensory structure and extension of the foot which bears tentacles. The epipodium projects beyond the shell edge in the living animal. The epipodium surface may be smooth or pebbly in appearance and its edge may be frilly or scalloped. It is the most reliable structure for identifying abalone species.
The internal organs are arranged around the foot and under the shell. The most conspicuous organ, the crescent-shaped gonad, is gray or green in females and cream colored in males. It extends around the side opposite the pores and to the rear of the abalone. The abalone has a pair of eyes, a mouth and an enlarged pair of tentacles. Inside the mouth is a long, file-like tongue called the radula, which scrapes algal matter to a size that can be ingested. The gill chamber is next to the mouth and under the respitory pores. Water is drawn in under the edge of the shell, and then flows over the gills and out the pores. Waste and reproductive products are carried out in the flow of water. Since it has no obvious brain structure, the abalone is considered to be a primitive animal. However, it does have a heart on its left side and blood flows through he arteries, sinuses and veins, assisted by the surrounding tissues and muscles.
Ab Diving Basics
Abs live near or in kelp beds. When you descend down into the kelp bed, have your method of measuring and your ab iron handy. When a suitable ab has been found, quickly slide the ab iron between the rock and under the ab's foot. Pry the ab up using the end of the ab iron under the
ab's foot as the fulcum point (clarification: as you pull up on the ab iron, the tip of the iron under the ab should remain in contact with the rock and not poking up into the ab's organs).
If you touch the ab prior to getting your ab iron under the foot, or the ab clamps down on the rock, do not force the ab iron under the shell. This will damage the ab and possibly cause the ab death. Never bring up an ab that is under-sized. There is a heavy fine for taking more than the limit and bringing up small abs.
From the Department of Fish and Game
"Ocean Sport Fishing: California Marine Regulations"
Effective: January 10, 2006 to December 31, 2006
(a) Geographical Area: Abalone may only be taken north of a line drawn due west magnetic from the center of the mouth of San Francisco Bay. No abalone may be taken, landed, orpossessed if landed south of this line.
(b) Open Season and Hours: Abalone may be taken only during the months of April, May, June, August, September, October and November from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.
(c) Bag Limit and Yearly Trip Limit: Three red abalone, Haliotis rufescens, may be taken per day. No more than three abalone may be possessed at any time. No other species of abalone may be taken or possessed. Each person taking abalone shall stop detaching abalone when the limit of three is reached. No person shall take more than 24 abalone during a calendar year.
(d) Minimum Abalone Size: All red abalone must be seven inches or greater measured along the longest shell diameter. All legal-sized abalone detached must be retained. No undersize abalone may be brought ashore or aboard any boat, placed in any type of receiver, kept on the person, or retained in any person.s possession or under his control. Undersize abalone must be replaced immediately to the same surface of the rock from which detached. Abalone brought ashore shall be in such a condition that the size can be determined.
(e) Special Gear Provisions: The use of SCUBA gear or surface-supplied air to take abalone is prohibited. Abalone may not be taken or possessed aboard any boat, vessel, or floating device in the water containing SCUBA or surface-supplied air. Abalone may be taken only by hand or by devices commonly known as abalone irons. Abalone irons must be less than 36 inches long, straight or with a curve having a radius of not less than 18 inches, and must not be less than 3/4 inch wide nor less than 1/16 inch thick. All edges must be rounded and free of sharp edges. Knives, screwdrivers and sharp instruments are prohibited.
(f) Measuring Device: Every person while taking abalone shall carry a fixed-caliper measuring gauge capable of accurately measuring seven inches. The measuring device shall have fi xed opposing arms of suffi cient length to measure the abalone by placing the gauge over the shell.
(g) Abalone Possession and Transportation: Abalones must not be removed from their shell, except when being prepared for immediate consumption.
(h) Abalone Permit Report Card: All persons required to possess a sport fishing license must have a non-transferable Abalone Permit Report Card (FG 2915) issued by the department while taking abalone. The Abalone Permit Report Card shall be kept with the fishing license while taking or attempting to take abalone. Persons diving from a boat shall keep the license and Abalone Permit Report Card in the boat. The Abalone Permit Report Card shall be completed as required immediately upon returning and boarding the boat with abalone. Persons diving from the shore shall keep the license and Abalone Permit Report Card within 500 yards on the shore. Persons shall, immediately upon bringing ashore an abalone, make a hole and completely remove the punched section from the report card in one of the designated locations for each abalone taken, and record with indelible ink, the date, time, and location code in the spaces provided adjacent to the hole. For the purposes of this section a boat is defi ned as any watercraft used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water (reference Section 9840(a), Vehicle Code and Section 6552(q), Title 14, California Code of Regulations). An Abalone Permit Report Card shall be valid during the open season for taking abalone in the calendar year for which it was issued. No person may be issued or possess more than one Abalone Permit Report Card or any Abalone Permit Report Card other than their own. The Abalone Permit Report Card must be returned to the Department of Fish and Game at 19160 South Harbor Drive, Fort Bragg, California 95437-5798, within 30 days of the close of the abalone season.
(i) Upon purchase of the Abalone Permit Report Card, the card number shall be entered by the license agent in ink on the back of the angler.s sport fi shing license. The sport fi shing license number shall be entered by the license agent on the Abalone Permit Report Card on the appropriate line.
For the purposes of this section a boat is defined as any watercraft used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water (reference Section 9840(a), Vehicle Code and Section 6552(q), Title 14, California Code of Regulations). An Abalone Report Card shall be valid during the open season for taking abalone in the calendar year for which it was issued. No person may be issued or possess more than one Abalone Report Card or any abalone report card other than their own. No person shall take more than 24 abalone in a calendar year. The Abalone Report Card must be returned to the Department of Fish and Game at 19160 South Harbor Drive, Fort Bragg, California 94537, within 30 days of the close of the abalone season.