Friday, January 25, 2008

Fishing Ban

Sometimes it is very wise to conserve a resource by not using it for awhile, and restraining from enjoyment for a relatively brief period for an obvious enhancement of future enjoyment seems a small price to pay.

Fishing ban sought on river
Two-month lull on American would help steelhead, group says.
By M.S. Enkoji -
Published 12:00 am PST Friday, January 25, 2008

The state Fish and Game Commission is set to consider a two-month fishing ban on the lower American River as a way to ward off poaching and preserve the steelhead trout population.

The ban for February and March, if approved, would be the first in years along a 26-mile section of the river from Nimbus Dam to the Sacramento River. That stretch is one of the region's most popular, meandering through the American River Parkway, where anglers logged 265,000 hours fishing in 2007.

A fly-fishing organization representing 7,000 Northern California anglers is asking the state commission for the ban, which would interrupt the steelhead trout season.

Unusually low river levels below Nimbus Dam make fish more susceptible to "snagging," an illegal method that is difficult to prevent, a branch of the Federation of Fly Fishers said in a letter to the commission.

"We make this request with a heavy heart," the letter said.

As popular as the American River is, flush with fish and within easy reach of nearly 2 million people, continuing dry conditions warrant extreme measures, said Fair Oaks resident David Ford, who wrote the letter.

"They're not going to be happy," he said of anglers, "me included. But if we're ever going to save the wild fish, we have to do it."

The commission will consider the proposal when it meets Feb. 7-8 in San Diego. The panel could deny the request, adopt an emergency measure effective immediately, or ask for more discussion, including a public hearing, said Jon Fischer, deputy executive director of the commission.

The commission's staff has not made a recommendation on the request. Commission members couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.

River levels so low that people can stroll across the American give fish less room to spread out, which makes it easier for snaggers to spot them, Ford said. Steelhead spawn during February and March, another condition that makes them easier snagging targets, he said.