From the bottom to the top? |

From the bottom to the top?

In light of the state budget disaster, the California Department of Fish & Game is currently questioning many of its basic assumptions about what to fund and where to cut back.

At a certain point of cutting back, you may as well cancel the program because only the administration is left when the last worker is gone.

On the other hand there are many interest groups trying to save their favorite slice of the pie.

I recently was solicited for support for the continuance of a hatchery program on the Klamath River. For the last few years the hatchery below Iron Gate Dam has been raising the salmon smolts until they had reached 6- to 10-inches instead of turning them loose as small fry. The salmon returns to the hatchery have multiplied and the salmon fishing has been excellent. The price is over $200,000 to hold and feed these fish beyond the fry stage. This is a great sounding project with demonstrable results but it consumes the total license revenues of over 6,000 anglers.

Is this the best use of this much money?

On the east side of the Sierra there is talk of closing the Hot Creek fish hatchery. This serves the region most used by the trout fishers from Southern California. How do you balance this against the salmon on the Klamath?

Tough question.

Add to it, that the answer must come from employees in the public sector and I predict a lot of dissatisfied anglers.

I propose a different approach. It is my philosophical belief that the best solutions come from the bottom up (people), not from the top down (government).

I just forked out $43.50 for my annual license. It is quite possible that with fewer people wanting to afford this increase, DF&G may have lower total revenues.

I would buy a license regardless of price, but what about the 17-year-old student who is the future of the sport? I will continue to add my voice to the what seems to be a losing battle, attempting to slow the increase of this fishing tax. But how do I affect change in the quality of my fishing?

I can join the cacophony of voices saying “gore someone else’s ox”.

Or I can go out and do something about what matters to me.

Members of the Gold Country Fly Fishers were concerned about the fishing on the Lower Yuba. It is a catch and release fishery requiring no bait and barbless hooks. There were anglers keeping fish who did not know the rules for the area. Club members have used their time and energy to get signs approved, made, and installed, listing the special regulations for that river.

California Inland Fisheries Foundation (aka: Project Kokanee) has been directly responsible for the planting of 10 million kokanee fingerlings in the last nine years.

Alpine County has its own trout planting program to keep anglers returning to the Carson River area. In Inyo County, Tim Alpers privately raises trophy-sized trout to be planted throughout the Owens River drainage.

Last week I attended the Gold Country Bass Master’s club meeting. On the agenda was a project to enhance the underwater structure at Scott’s Flat Lake. Their solution is to get volunteer labor to cut manzanita, to ask a local business for the use of a truck to haul the material and to organize a day to install the material at the lake.

My point is that time spent jockeying for your spot at the public trough may not be as productive as joining up with others with similar interests and do something that enhances your aspect of your sport.

I contend that the bass club members will catch more fish by working on the structure project than putting an equal amount of time into petitioning the DF&G for a slice of the budget pie.

The best solution comes from the bottom up.

Denis Peirce writes a weekly fishing column for The Union and is host of “The KNCO Fishing & Outdoor Report,” which airs 6-7 p.m. Fridays and 5-6 a.m. Saturdays on 830-AM radio. He may be reached via e-mail at

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