Hunting Fishing

Why aren’t we conserving water? and other questions pondered from the fishing boat

Weeds grow on San Luis Reservoir on June 14, 2013. Columnist Roger George worries we could see this again all too soon.
Weeds grow on San Luis Reservoir on June 14, 2013. Columnist Roger George worries we could see this again all too soon. Fresno Bee file

That feeling of déjà vu has been slowly creeping up on me in the last month. It’s been a good fishing year so far, but watching the already falling water levels at our lakes, coupled with few rain prospects and way-below-average rainfall, and it seems like we’re headed toward tough times.

Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert and guides in the Central San Joaquin Valley. JOHN WALKER THE FRESNO BEE

I’m just a normal fisherman making some personal, uneducated observations about the stuff I think we may all be thinking right now. I do have some questions, though.

It began at the end of last year, when I began wondering why in the heck the lakes were being taken down already preparing room for the inflow they expected? I kept thinking, “What if there is no rain/snow and all that extra storage they were flushing downstream to make room for the assumed water season didn’t materialize?”

For example, I saw that San Luis was brought up slowly to the top – 2.1 million acre feet – then the water was taken back down to around 85 percent or 1.7 million acre feet and held there – until now. Why not fill the sucker up and hold it there until you saw how things went? Asking around, I was told there were “reasons” San Luis couldn’t be filled due to legal agreements. I should have known…

Millerton is now also heading down after being held well below capacity, too. Big reservoirs going down when they should be filling? There are more than a few lakes that are in the 50 percent range right now. Am I missing something obvious here? Yikes!

The other scary thing to me is that I don’t see any new water storage being developed quickly, even though we were lucky enough to get a reprieve last season. When I don’t hear official talk of building new dams (after all we’ve been through!), and I don’t see any other ideas to store significant amounts of water, it strikes me that the powers that be are continuing to shoot themselves in the foot.

In addition, why in the heck would you remove most of the commonsense water restrictions that should be in place all of the time anyway? So far this year, why haven’t there been any calls for water conversation to be started again right away? Or do we wait until we have none to sound the alarm?

I hope I’m wrong about the sky falling. So far the higher water levels have made for great fishing, but we could be back talking about fish die-offs before it’s all done. We could sure use a bunch of rain and snow so I can go back to just worrying about fishing!

Never give up!

Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert. He can be reached at,

at and @StriperWars on Twitter.