An Attaboy Before We Head to the Barricades
Back in the 1980s, California Trout gave its new members a slender booklet titled something like Great Places to Fish
. As I recall, it discussed only ten or so waters, but all of them had angling restrictions to foster a wild-trout rather than hatchery-based fishery. This was accomplished by reducing mortality through low or zero bag limits and the use of barbless artificial flies and lures.
These waters, in other words, were where fly fishing was not just allowed, but in a way encouraged. I joined CalTrout, Trout Unlimited, and the Federation of Fly Fishers because, among other important activities, each advocated for these sorts of angling restrictions. No doubt other fly fishers did the same thing. It was our first introduction to fisheries conservation.
The point here is that California’s angling regulations have heightened importance for fly fishers and so it’s no surprise that when the California Department of Fish and Wildlife came out in mid-March with a draft “simplification” of trout regulations, a lot of us viewed some of the recommendations with alarm. I think it’s proper that we did so — the proposal was launched without much fanfare, no supporting documentation was provided to allow us to understand the CDFW’s rationales, and the initial public input process was limited, meaning there are anglers reading these words who haven’t yet heard a thing about it.
I applaud the CDFW for making the attempt to get comments from us. Typically, recommendations go directly from the department to the California Fish and Game Commission, which is the governmental body tasked with adopting fishing regulations. The commission has its own public comment process. This time, though, the CDFW decided it would be wise to hear from anglers first and perhaps adjust its proposal before presenting it to the commission. Their willingness to listen to us during the drafting stage is a very good thing.
Whether the proposed regulations in part or in whole are a good thing is a different question. The final draft is expected to go to the commission in August. Make sure you get a copy and read it. And if you have concerns, make your voice heard.
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