The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has banned recreational fishing on streams and rivers throughout the formerly golden state in response to one of the state’s worst droughts in recorded history.
The prohibition was put in place despite the storms that have blanketed the state’s Sierra Nevada Mountain range with a blanket of snow the first two weeks of February. California residents and farmers get much of their water from the melting snowpack later in the year. State officials say that this month’s storms have failed to get the snowpack up to normal, healthy levels. Things are so bad that even with the recent snowstorms the snowpack in the northern Sierra Nevada mountain range currently sits at a mere six percent of average.
The fish and wildlife officials say that the banning is needed since the lower the water levels are the more concentrated the fish are and the easier it is for them to be caught by anglers. Though there were similar bans put in place in 1976 and 1977, the current ban is the largest ever in California. Talking about the need for the closure of streams and rivers, CDFW spokeswoman Jordan Traverso said, “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time the department has taken this type of emergency action. This epic drought changes everything.”
Recreational anglers seem to support the bans feeling that the fish populations must be protected. “We really appreciate the state taking action, but they should be able to move closures much faster. There’s a lot at stake right now,” said Tyrone Gorre, co-founder of the Sierra Salmon Alliance and a professional fishing guide.
In fact, some anglers say the wildlife officials have not gone far enough. Gorre, for example, is calling for the emerging closing of the Auburn Ravine, Butte Creek, and Yuba River to recreational fishing.
To learn more about the river and stream closures, visit the CDFW website.