I was reflecting on some thoughts that made me excited, triggered by comments Shaver Lake guide and fishing buddy Dick Nichols emailed me moments ago. Telling me that it was, “Ugly! Up here, sleet now, but so fast and hard,” Dick was obviously in the midst of some intense wet weather! Glad I wasn’t there, but it was just the kind of report I wanted to hear.
I think most of us are almost gun shy about mentioning the wet storms we’ve had rolling through the past month or so, worried we might jinx the trend we need so badly! I know I’ve been pretty cautious about getting optimistic too soon, but I think I’ve gotten past the pessimistic stage and into a cautiously positive frame of mind. Is it possible we might just get the kind of weather necessary to turn the water tide? I’m praying.
Yes, there’s a lot on the line. For starters, our fisheries have survived the past two years in better shape than I could have hoped for. My concern was that the forces that want more water at any cost would ramp up their efforts through end-run tactics on fisheries.
The incredible recent political effort to put an end to non-native species in the Delta is problematic and shows what can happen. Advocating for the destruction of an entire ecosystem, one where different species have successfully cohabited for more than 100 years – until the drought and water-management decisions changed the balance – is ludicrous. Forgive me, but some folks will argue that a fish that’s been here more than 100 years is still non-native. I haven’t been able to figure out what’s so terrible about non-native fisheries that have been here for a century and were planted by Fish and Wildlife.
I get a kick out of it when I read something about the predatory non-native fish we need to eliminate. They’re talking about crappie, bass of all kinds, bluegill and stripers. This has given some elitist anglers a supposed argument to promote their favorite fish at the expense of all others, because they “know” these predators eat some of their fish. Hmm I think that argument goes both ways! As a DFW Fisheries biologist told me long ago, “if you put a bunch of fish in a small area, they will try to eat each other. That’s what they all do!”
Does it make sense to blame the fish for what many see as the mismanagement of the Delta water system, putting them in enough jeopardy that they eat each other as they’ve done for eons? Who in the heck is protecting our fisheries anyway?
This is not easy stuff to write about, but if you haven’t noticed, the machinery is in place to try to push this agenda. Unfortunately, anglers have very few, large or powerful lobbying groups that can fight these dedicated interests intent on remaking our diverse and successful fisheries into one where we only have politically correct native fish. These interests in some cases are small but still well financed and active legally. Is it any wonder that non-fishing interests see our fisheries as a weak and easily politically attacked industry?
My belief is that if if we get some good water years, the pressures will relax and we’ll have a shot at getting through this. However, if we look at the writing on the wall, the train to overhaul whole fisheries is steaming ahead with little opposition. In fact, it seems that each time the plans somehow have been thwarted, they come back again to attack on another front!
I’m excited about the possibility of a much better water year, but I’m also looking over my shoulder at the issues I think many of us have just passed off as disturbing concerns we can’t do much about. It’s beyond that. We’ve been very lucky so far, but unfortunately I believe the day is near when we will have to organize ourselves politically to defend our sport and our fisheries against aggressive anti-fishing forces.
Think not? Look around! Never give up!