I sometimes wonder if the outdoor world we take for granted may be in jeopardy. Many anglers tell me they, too, are hanging on to the hope of riding out a way of life they cherish, as far as they can, before it’s gone! What’s making anglers feel this way? Here’s my honest, unvarnished perceptions of what I think we’re all seeing and feeling.
First: So we had a great water year, but they still put how much water out to the sea? Frustrating! I really wonder if they were at all prepared for a great water year and developing any new storage options? If they were already planning to have to use all that water to revive the Delta smelt, then why didn’t they just tell us? Last word I got was that the Delta smelt are near extinct now.
Folks are asking why we’re still following this regimen after doing everything they asked for years and the population is dying anyway. Sure seems that was their intent, and storing whatever water was left was just an afterthought.
By the way, if water is such an important resource, and factions are battling each other over it, where did all the conservation programs go? My impression: I predicted that once the political pressure was turned down, they would quietly reduce the water restrictions. It doesn’t look good to grunts like me as I watch my favorite lake get taken down to minimum pool after a good year. If they have a plan, I want to hear about it. Now! Me skeptical.
Second: My feeling is we’re up against strong forces trying to portray themselves as friends of anglers and the fish but in fact have just one concern – get as much water as they can for that interest. These groups pose as fisheries advocates, with names implying that, when in truth their underlying intent is one of setting up another species as the straw man, one they can demonize and legally eliminate. If you take the legal fish protections away, you can ignore them in water programs.
It just seems that when a group adopts a name intended to give the impression they are a benevolent friend of a particular fishery, and in fact are not, it should be called out. Look behind the name to who controls the group and you can see it’s not a case of concerned anglers pulling the strings.
It all feels and smells like another attempt by a well-financed group to keep attorneys at work long enough to wear down the angling community opposition while keeping up the marketing PR baloney. After each defeat, they seem to come back in some new incarnation, attacking the most convenient target and species at that point. I may be totally wrong, but the latest Delta bill to impact bass and stripers sure gives me the perception it’s just another attempt among many by the same old interests.
I’m also sick of the political correctness of the nonnative species argument. There are 47 nonnative species of fish at last count in the Delta, according to the biologists I have read. The cow is out of the barn and when I see selective labeling of our regular sportsfish as a nonnative predatory fish I know they usually have a political ax to grind: Destroy a fishery because it’s now politically nonnative! Heck we don’t have enough fish as it is. Many believe our fisheries are political issues and DFW biologists no longer have a say. Who’s calling the shots anyway?
So what’s our hope? I believe that first we must build strong angling groups to protect our interests. Having the political clout to wade into battles and meet force with force will be key for our future. OK, so you totally disagree? Right or wrong, that’s my gut feelings! I’m looking for answers, too. Never give up!
Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org,