On Wednesday, April 3, the Mono County Fish and Wildlife Commission met and discussed the planned fishing regulation changes for 2020. The meeting was not as heated as the one in Bishop on March 20.
The Commission does not have voting power on the regulations nor does the Mono County Board of Supervisors. The changes are coming down from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). They call it the “Inland Trout Angling Regulation Simplification”.
Currently there are 88 fishing seasons throughout the state. The changes would reduce that number to six.
There are six season types in California: open year-round, closed year-round, open the Saturday preceding Memorial Day to the last day in February, open the Saturday preceding Memorial Day through September, open October 1 through the Friday preceding Memorial Day, and open September 1 through November 30.
Keith Potter, a June Lake resident felt that these season options aren’t really options. “There are six choices. If you’re not in favor of year round. Then to me the other five choices really aren’t an answer. Nobody wants to move opening to a weekend after Memorial Day.”
Potter added, “To me none of the options apply as far as being lake options.”
CDFW fisheries biologist Jim Erdman brought comment forms for the public to submit. Commissioners encouraged people to submit comments, focusing on specific regulation’s effects on specific bodies of water. Leave the anger out of the submissions, they suggested.
“Why is year round fishing on June Lake bad?” Erdman used as an example.
Patty Heinrich, a June Lake resident and owner of June Lake Thrift Store, said, “I think our businesses would lose money for the month when you change the opening to May.”
She’s also concerned that opening fishing year round will increase the number of people fishing on frozen lakes.
Heinrich said, “Who’s going to pay for the additional fire fighters and EMTs that are going to come out and answer the calls when people fall through the ice. Who’s going to make the determination that the ice is safe to go out and fish on?”
Crowley Lake Fire Department and the June Lake Fire Protection District are writing letters to CDFW about concerns for angler safety in the winter on and around streams and lakes.
Mono County Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Don Morton was positive. “While there are a lot of complaints and a broad spectrum of opinions on all these fishing regs, one of the things that I’d like to point out is statewide they’re adopting regs to protect the spawning fish.” This includes spawning fish between Grant and Silver Lakes, an area Morton has been working to protect for years.
Doug Rodricks, a guide at Sierra Drifters Guide Service, suggested reducing the take limit to two fish. “I think that would be a great solution for Crowley,” he said.
Lisa Cutting, a Mono Basin resident, felt that the current season for lakes is favorable for this area and the regulations should stay that way.
“Any option should really be based on science. What is best for the fish should be the primary concern,” Cutting said. “It’s both the resource and the economics that need to be blended so that both have the best shot at being healthy.”
Will Clayton, owner of Jolly Kone in Bridgeport and former fishing guide, wasn’t as concerned about people on the ice. The ice anglers that he sees appear competent.
He said, “Of course we’re always going to get some chuckleheads coming up here doing some dumb stuff.”
He supports the year round season for the potential added income it could bring to sporting good stores in the winter.
CDFW Lt. Chief Bill Daly said, “I think there’s a little bit of confusion on this. Almost every single body of water in Mono and Inyo County will be open to year round fishing. Five fish per day. Ten in possession. The exception to the year round season is Crowley Lake and most of the Crowley Lake tributaries. There you cannot keep any fish until Memorial Day weekend. Then Memorial Day weekend you’re allowed to keep five fish and have ten in possession.”
Fishmas might have to be moved because it will be catch and release on Crowley for a month longer than the current regulations.
“I hear you saying that it’s going to hurt us economically,” Mono County Supervisor Bob Gardner said, “but that’s not the case if we continue to have an end of April event like Fishmas.”
John Coats, owner of Fern Creek Lodge, was concerned about how the regulations will deplete fish populations. “What happens if we have year round fishing? It’s going to deplete the lakes.”
“Are Fish and Wildlife going to give us more fish because we have year round fishing?”
Commissioner Morton said, “The best thing we could do for our fishery is reduce the limit and have more fish that are caught and released.”
Erik Huber of CalTrout was concerned about opening of Golden Trout wilderness in Inyo County to year round. “All it takes is a couple people pulling out ten spawning fish from there to put a serious dent in reproduction potential of the Golden Trout populations.”
Commissioner Jeff Parker brought up the impact social media has in bringing inexperienced anglers to the area. “When these guys come up here and go out on the Owen’s River and catch a big fish, they’ll go on social media and tell all their buddies. All their buddies will go, ‘Hey let’s go there and catch some fish.’ And they aren’t going to be conscientious. They aren’t going to be safety conscious. It’s just another possibility you have to look at.”
“You can’t regulate stupidity,”
“But do we have to regulate it year-round or can we regulate it for a season,” Parker said.
Upcoming public meetings about the regulation changes:
Wednesday, April 10 at the Colonial Heights Reading Room, 4799 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento from 6-8 p.m.
Tuesday, April 23 at the Truckee-Tahoe Airport Community Room, 10356 Truckee Airport Rd., Truckee from 6-8 p.m.
A public comment form is accessible online at https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Inland/Trout-Plan/Regulation-Simplification/comments.