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California fishing regulations may be easier read next year. Here is why

California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Q: There is a lot of talk about making fishing regulations less complicated and word is that CDFW has made some changes. What was changed and what is the status?

— Pete W.

A: To answer the status part of the question first, yes, there has been recent progress with changes going into effect on March 1, 2021, assuming the changes are approved by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL). It's both the California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) and CDFW that have spearheaded those changes, with input from anglers across the state.

For many years, anglers have expressed frustration with the complexity of freshwater sport fishing regulations. Some people say they are dissuaded from fishing due to actual or perceived difficulty in complying with the regulations. To address the concerns FGC and CDFW have heard over the years, CDFW held a series of community meetings in 2018 and 2019 at locations across the state to publicly introduce and discuss proposed changes to simplify statewide inland sport fishing regulations.

In this Nov. 30, 2017, file photo, Andy Saechao fishes at Thermalito Forebay in Oroville. California regulators on Wednesday voted to allow temporary limits on freshwater fishing in some rural communities where local officials are concerned out-of-towners could spread the coronavirus to residents.

CDFW proposals and recommendations from the public were then vetted at this year’s January and March Wildlife Resources Committee meetings, and FGC adopted the changes just last week.

The goals of the proposed changes are to increase regulatory consistency statewide, reduce the complexity of inland sport fishing regulations and remove regulations that are no longer biologically justifiable. The major proposed regulatory changes include:

  • Separate the regulations for inland trout (non-anadromous waters) from those for steelhead and salmon (anadromous waters) to help provide greater clarity for anglers.
  • Replace the district regulations with statewide regulations separated for trout.
  • Standardize and consolidate the “special fishing” regulations.

Technically, there are hundreds of small changes and adjustments — far too many to list here. However, if you are interested in the gritty detail, please see the regulations as they were submitted to OAL.

Q: When you purchase a one-day fishing license, when does the one day begin? Is it 24 hours from the time of purchase or at the beginning on the next day?

— Anonymous 

A: Whether you’re purchasing a one-day, two-day or 10-day license, you’ll choose your own validity date at the time of purchase. One-day sport fishing licenses will be valid for use only on the validity date. Two-day sport fishing licenses will be valid for use for two consecutive days beginning on the date you specify at the time of purchase. Lastly, 10-day sport fishing licenses are only available to nonresident anglers and will be valid for 10 consecutive days beginning on the date you specify at the time of purchase.

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If you were to buy a one-day fishing license at 2 p.m. and you wanted to go fishing that afternoon, you would specify that day’s date, print out your license at home and be on your way. The license would be good until midnight. If you specify a future date for the one-day fishing license, it will be valid at 12:01 a.m. on the date specified and will be valid until midnight of that day.

Q: For years, I would see pronghorn antelope along Highway 58 in the Carrizo Plains. After the solar farms went in, I saw fewer and fewer. In the last few years, I’ve not seen a single one. What is the current status of the pronghorn antelopes in the Carrizo Plains?

— Lee

A: The population of pronghorn on the Carrizo Plains has been declining for many years due to changes in land use. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is actively working to retain a viable pronghorn population there.

CDFW manages the Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve and the North Carrizo Ecological Reserve. On those lands, we are improving pronghorn habitat connectivity by modifying and removing fencing. We are also improving water availability by managing the number of troughs available. Additionally, we are actively working to improve habitat with other agencies and nonprofit groups that manage land on the Carrizo, including the Bureau of Land Management, Carrizo Plain Conservancy and Sequoia Riverlands Trust.

Pronghorn sheep

Solar projects, which are beneficial in that they help California reach lofty renewable energy goals, have displaced a portion of the pronghorn's core habitat which has made the herds more difficult to see from Highway 58. However, the population occupies habitat in areas outside the solar panel arrays as well, such as along Soda Lake Road and areas to the south. The Carrizo is a unique area as it is one of the only places in the state where the public can view populations of both pronghorn and tule elk. CDFW and its partner agencies will continue working to improve habitat suitability there.

Email CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov with questions for the CDFW.

Outdoor schedule: Season openings

  • Trout, most California waters: Open now to Nov. 15
  • Salmon, Sacramento River: Open now to Dec. 31
  • All Quail, Zone Q2: Open now to Jan. 31
  • All Quail, Zone Q1 and Q3: Open to Jan. 26
  • Pheasant: Open Nov. 9 to Dec. 22
  • Fall Wild Turkey: Open Nov. 9 to Dec. 23
  • Spotted Dove and Ringed Turtle Dove: Open Nov. 9 to Dec. 23
  • Band-tailed Pigeon, South: Open Dec. 21 to Dec. 29
  • Spring Wild Turkey: Open March 28 to May 3

Go to www.wildlife.ca.gov for more information.