SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – State fish and wildlife officials say that game fish are in jeopardy as the drought raises water temperatures in lakes, rivers and streams.
During the last extended drought, cold-water game fish, like trout, stripers and salmon, were at risk.
“With the drought that we’re having, the same thing with this year, it’s a lot harder to find fish,” said Leu Her, with Fruitridge Bait and Tackle.
Bait shop owner and avid fishermen Her says warmer waters could make it a tough fishing season. But he says, when you do catch it, it might not survive a release.
“Especially with the warm water and the warm temperature, you want to try to not put as much stress as you can on the fish,” Her said.
That is why the Department of Fish and Wildlife has new guidance for fishermen, which includes not fishing past noon in some waterways with afternoon temperatures above 67 degrees. They also ask fishermen to reduce the length of a fight when a fish is hooked.
Fishermen are asked to unhook quickly or to leave the hook in when that is not possible and to make sure they recover in the net before a release.
Most who have been fishing for a long time will agree that the new drought fishing recommendations are good for the long-term health of fish. But the question is how many will actually follow the rules.
Her says there has been a jump in newcomers during the pandemic — people looking for a healthy outdoor activity. He feels the new voluntary rules will be ignored.
“A longer fight for them is probably more exciting,” Her said. “People don’t typically think about handling the fish carefully, getting it off the hook real quick and releasing it back into the water safely.”
“I definitely want the fish that I catch and release to survive and grow,” said Roman Hatton.
Hatton took up fishing during the pandemic. Still, he is hesitant to restrict his fishing to the morning hours.
“But I do want to preserve the fish, but I like to fish. If they make it illegal, I won’t do it,” Hatton said.
The new rules are voluntary and the noon recommendation only affects selected locations. For some, the drought guidelines are important for the survival of the sport.
“It’s something that I think all fishermen should pay attention to,” Her said.
The new rules are meant for fish that are caught and released. The department says they are not meant for fish that are caught for food.