Why you are incredibly fortunate, and probably don’t realize it
How far away are you from a B.A.S.S. top 100 fishery?
How far away are you from a fishery with a potential record largemouth or spotted bass or limit thereof?
In 2015, California boasted six fisheries in the national top 100 according to Bassmaster.com consistently having two in the top-10 (Clear Lake and California Delta).
Most of us in the west have relatively close access to several of these fisheries. You want to know a secret – most are largely a serendipitous windfall on behalf of California state resource agencies. Very few of these fisheries were propagated and developed by design and very few have any ongoing monitoring, research or regulatory oversight to enhance or protect the fishery.
Now that I’ve let the cat out of the bag
Other states employ 4 to 5 times as many biologists and technicians focused on inland (reservoir) fisheries management and have a fraction of the number of fisheries and residents. This minimal staffing requires our reservoir fishery managers to get by with doing the bare minimum, trying to manage our resources with little to no financial support.
Further, our resources are increasingly managed, and policies dictated, by non-resource users and political appointees who do not understand the importance or complexities of the regulations and policies they advocate or implement. I’m not just looking at what it is – but what it could be.
Unfortunately, the State of California does not see it for what it could be.
Despite the millions of dollars in tax revenues (not including license and boating fees, fuel taxes, hotel taxes, etc.) – minimal funding is dedicated to reservoir fisheries.
In fact – one might argue that our tax dollars are stolen to fund positions for people who actually advocate for their eradication.
Much like the new gas tax – you are simply giving your tax dollars away and getting next to nothing in return.
Here is why you should be furious and why you need to care
The status quo is not sustainable - increasing water demand, more variable climate conditions, new invasive plant and animal species, greater fishing pressure, etc. all collectively will put pressure on fisheries.
Without somebody watching and listening – the fishery will dissipate long before anybody knows why or takes any action (if any meaningful action is taken to protect those evil bass).
Further, there is ever-increasing pressure to control bass populations and project them as the cause of failure for other fish populations. That’s simply not the case – ongoing poor management of our water resources and habitat is the root cause of fishery issues in California.
The Delta is the lynchpin of many state fishery resources – unfortunately, its simply used as a conduit and septic and everyone wonders why salmon are struggling and why there is a pelagic organism decline (I’ll get on that soap box another time).
We spend millions and millions on habitat improvements upstream, but if fish are not surviving in the Delta, it’s pointless. Fix the bottleneck first – but agencies know they cannot do that, because of the money and political influence and the California Water Fix and Eco Restore is NOT the solution.
Again – these programs are all for the benefit of large water wrapped in a shiny wrapper encompassing thousands of pages that no one has time to read or understand.
Without advocacy – things are going to be slowly lost and chipped away. Over time our opportunities are going to diminish and costs skyrocket. We need to step back a minute, appreciate what we have, and stop letting our state simply use us as a piggy bank. Get involved someway, somehow. Make the collective voice of the bass fishing community heard.
More to come...