Archive for the ‘DFG’ Category



Coruption every hunter and fisherman need to listen to if you use the outdoors.

Democratic lawmakers may attempt to oust California Fish and Game Commission President Daniel Richards as early as next week following outrage over his legal killing of a mountain lion on a recent Idaho hunting trip.
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The DFG Budget: Is anyone out there paying attention?

Do you know someone who has quit hunting or fishing in California in the past decade? We all do. I like to say that fish and wildlife exists today in California in spite of the department of Fish and Game, not because of its efforts. It all relates to the DFG budget manipulation and mismanagement of funds. The agency’s decline starts and ends with wildlife that support hunting and fishing programs getting an increasingly short end of the budget stick.

How sportsmen fare in the DFG budget: Sportsmen are responsible for about 45 percent of the DFG’s annual budget through the payment of license and tag fees and federal excise taxes, yet only 21 percent of the DFG’s budget is spent on game and fish programs today. Once upon a time, these programs received 100 percent of that money. Even if we include all DFG law enforcement activities in this percentage pie that benefits the wildlife and sportsmen who pay the freight (and wardens should not be completely paid for by license fees), we still only get 35 percent of the total budget. Many in the agency correctly argue that many “other” DFG programs indirectly benefit fish and game programs. But it could just as reasonably be argued that many of these “other” programs are counter-productive and often directly at odds with good game and fish management programs.

How much federal funding does the DFG lose: Of the $71 million received in federal funds by the DFG, the two biggest allocations come from a pair of landmark laws that charge excise taxes on sporting equipment and allocate it back to the states. The state’s allocation of Pittman-Robertson funds (excise taxes on sporting arms and ammunition) is a little over $11 million each year. Based on the allocation system for P-R funds, which is derived from a state’s land mass and population compared to other states, California should be receiving about $36 million annually from this fund.

We lose most of these funds because our state can’t or won’t come up with the mandatory 25 percent matching funds for projects in game programs or game lands because the money is allocated to “other” programs — programs apparently far more important than game programs even through hunters are getting a pittance of their investment back in wildlife research, management, and enhancement.

We are receiving the maximum allocation from in Dingell-Johnson fund (excise taxes on fishing tackle and boats) at just over $20 million each year, but much of that money has been earmarked for salmon and steelhead hatcheries in solid on-going programs for decades. The DFG would have to make a concerted effort to screw this up.

The bottom line is the DFG loses over $35 million a year in lost federal funding because it won’t support game and fish programs to a higher level.

How much has the DFG lost because of declining hunting and fishing license sales: Annual resident fishing license sales dropped below 1 million for the first time in 2011. Annual license sales were around 2.2 million annually in the late 1970s and into the 1980s. If the DFG grossed about $40 million on all fishing license sales in 2011, my simple-minded math tells me we’d have at least $80 million selling the same numbers of licenses today that we sold in the late 1970s.

In the late 1960s and in 1970, we were selling about 700,000 hunting licenses. In 2011, we sold about 240,000 annual licenses. That’s $9.5 million in annual license fees and a total of $21.2 million for all tag, stamp, and application fees paid by those 240,000 hunters. If we still had 700,000 hunters in California, the total revenue would have to be in $60 million range.

These license sale losses have accumulated while the state’s population has skyrocketed. If license sales had grown proportionally with the state’s population since 1970, just imagine what the revenue for the DFG would be like. The bottom line is that DFG has effectively sliced its sporting funding in half through lost license sales. This is what happens when you ignore game and fish programs and sportsmen.

Total lost revenue: What is a conservative estimate on how much money the DFG could – should – be bringing in on hunting and fishing license revenue with a good, aggressive game and fish management program? Licenses, tags, and stamps brought in $61 million in 2011. We should have over $140 million coming in. Federal excise taxes are currently $71 million today. We should receive at least $105 million. So instead of $185 million, the income should be more like $245 million. If there had actually been growth in the number of license holders, growth in concert with the state’s population which has doubled since 1970, the revenue would be in the $500 million range.

A final reminder: The DFG’s total annual budget today is right around $400 million, including all the non-game, vegetation, and invasive species programs, law enforcement staff, oil spill prevention and response teams, and on and on. But remember, game and fish programs are just 21 percent of that current budget.

Is it any wonder more and more hunters and fishermen are giving up on California?

The solution: The reality of the world is different today than four decades ago when the DFG was flush with money and did everything it wanted for sportsmen and more. There was even money left over to do non-game and endangered species work with sporting money back then. Today, the agency has more lawyers and administrators than it does scientist because it spends as much time in court than it does in the field.

It’s time for everyone who enjoys wildlife and wild places to pony up instead of sportsmen paying the lion’s share of the bill. There are two parts to the solution. First, all hunting and fishing license dollars need to be rededicated to only game and fish programs. This would blow a huge hole in other parts of the DFG budget, and those other programs are important and need funding. Second, the DFG needs a new, permanent funding mechanism for its other programs.

There are two valid models that could accomplish that goal. The first alternative is an annual outdoor user fee. Everyone who does anything from bird watching to hiking to mountain biking on any public land would have to have an annual license and the money would go to the DFG which manages those natural resources for those users. Just like hunters and fishermen pay a fee, other outdoor users would also have to pay the fee to enjoy those same resources. The second alternative is an added state sales tax on outdoor gear to fund the DFG’s broad range of conservation programs statewide, paid for by everyone in the state who buys a wide range of wildlife or outdoor-based products, from wild bird seed to binoculars to backpacking and mountain climbing gear. One is a simple user fee, and the other is an excise tax. Your call.

All I know is that hunters and fishermen shouldn’t have to keep funding far more than they receive. We deserve Crowley Lake-style trout management in waters all over the state. We need more tule elk on public lands. We need more desert water sources for wildlife. We need a lot of things for the state’s hunted and fished game species. Instead of being discriminated against each time we dig into our wallets, we need to see a return on our investment instead of excuses for dismal management.


Proposed Stocking Regulations Will Impact California

Lake and Pond Fishing

Attend a public hearing to voice your concerns over onerous proposed fish stocking regulations

What: California Fish and Game Commission Hearing on Fish Stocking Regulations

When: December 15, 2011, 8:30 a.m.

Where: Hubbs Sea World Research Institute, 2595 Ingraham St, San Diego, CA

During its December 15 meeting, the California Fish and Game Commission is taking under consideration onerous environmental regulations that, if passed, will force lake, pond and hatchery owners to perform costly environmental surveys on every lake or pond that stocks fish. These surveys could cost up to $100,000 per body of water!

If approved, these regulations will create a substantial burden on private landowners who wish to stock and manage ponds and lakes on their property. Businesses that offer fishing on private lakes, will likely either be put out of business by the fees associated with these rigorous protocols, or will be forced to significantly increase the cost for visiting anglers like you. KeepAmericaFishingâ„¢ encourages California’s anglers to attend this meeting and tell the commissioners what these regulations mean for anglers – higher fees and less time in the outdoors.

California is home to an estimated 3,000 lakes and reservoirs and 24,000 ponds, all of which will be subject to these onerous and costly regulations if approved.

The passage of these regulations would represent one of the greatest threats to freshwater recreational fishing California has ever seen.

Good Points to Make During the Meeting to the Commissioners:

As an angler and conservationist you are committed to taking care of our great outdoors and support efforts to ensure that fish populations are available now and for future generations to enjoy.

Onerous and costly regulations will limit access to fishing by making lake and pond stocking unfeasibly expensive, and will force many private fishing pond operators to go out of business.

Recreational fishing is an economic driver for many communities and small businesses and contributes over $4.7 billion a year to a state that has a struggling economy and the second highest unemployment rate in the Nation.

Can’t Attend the Meeting?

Even if you are unable to attend the commission’s meeting, you can still take action. Click here to send a letter opposing the proposed fish stocking regulations to the commission today.

Your voice needs to be heard. Stop the Fish and Game Commission from passing regulations that threaten access to fishing and jobs!


In an unprecedented move, the California Department of Fish and Game has been forced to propose regulations which will eradicate striped bass from the San Francisco Bay and Delta. A water contractor group known as the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta filed a lawsuit against the DFG alleging that….

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Sacramento (February 25, 2011) – Today, the California Association for Recreational Fishing (CARF) announced its opposition to new regulations being unveiled at the March 3rd California Fish and Game Commission hearing being held in Los Angeles.

For the first time in over 30 years, new regulations will require fishermen to purchase fishing licenses to catch privately stocked fish on private property as well as private fee for fishing lakes. In addition, these new regulations will impose crippling costs on an annual basis to perform genetic and disease testing on every single fish hatchery and pond in California. These unprecedented regulations could cost property owners thousands of dollars annually for even the smallest body of fresh water and even more for fish hatcheries.

“California businesses grow some of the healthiest fish in the world under existing regulations,” said Craig Elliott, an owner of a catfish farm and several recreational fee for fishing lakes located in Southern California. “Jobs will be lost when costly regulations lead to fish hatcheries closing and fish ponds simply abandoned all together. Denying recreational fishermen access to their favorite fishing hole will harm California tourism and our economy.”

At the hearing, CARF will ask the Commission to delay the rule making process pending the outcome of CARF’s lawsuit against the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) . As a result of a 2006 lawsuit filed by environmentalists against the State of California’s fish hatcheries, the State drafted an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) including private aquaculture in its regulations. CARF contends in the lawsuit filed in June of 2010 against the California DFG that the previous lawsuit and ruling only applied to state facilities, and not privately held fish hatcheries and stock ponds.

“Just because the State did not manage their hatcheries responsibly, thousands of California employers should not have to endure the consequences of crippling regulations that threaten jobs,” said Ken Beer, owner and operator of The Fishery, Inc., a Galt fish farm. “Private hatcheries and stock pond owners have been responsible stewards of the environment. Our livelihood is dependent on delivering safe and healthy fish to market and to fishing lakes. It is premature to impose these costly regulations only to have a judge overturn them later.”

In addition to a request to postpone the adoption of any new regulations, CARF will request that when released the public should have a minimum of 120 days to review any regulations, rather than 60 days which is customary for less impactful regulations. Sufficient time is required to measure the true impact these costly regulations will have on every private hatchery, stock ponds, and homeowner associations with lakes, golf courses and parks. With fewer fish provided by private hatcheries and stock ponds, recreational fishing will decline, threatening California’s outdoor industry and communities dependent on recreational tourism, namely, sporting goods companies and retailers, boat sales/manufacturing, marinas, bait and tackle shops, restaurants and grocery stores. Moreover, the DFG has not been able to demonstrate how they intend to monitor and permit tens of thousands of bodies of fresh water with limited staff and resources.

A legal synopsis of CARF’s lawsuit and additional information can be found at

CARF is a non-profit, grass-roots organization of fresh water recreational fishermen and California employers dedicated to protecting a $2.4 billion industry in California that creates jobs and recreational opportunities for millions of Californians and tourists.


Question: Can you please describe the legal and proper way to measure a fish, particularly largemouth bass? Is it with an open mouth, closed mouth, fanned tail or pinched tail? I would appreciate some fish measuring guidelines to determine whether a catch is legal. Thank you.

(Rick B.)

Answer: The first rule when measuring fish is to lay the fish flat on its side and always pinch the mouth closed. All freshwater fish, including largemouth bass, are measured to total length. This is the longest straight-line distance from the tip of the head to the end of the longest lobe of the tail (CCR Section 1.62). The most accurate method is to place the fish’s snout against a perpendicular surface and then measure along the intersecting horizontal surface to the end of the tail. Don’t measure using a flexible “tape” over the fish itself or you will be given a longer false reading. All freshwater fish with a minimum size limit are measured this way.

On the ocean side, most saltwater fish with minimum size limits are measured to total length, but there are some that are measured to fork length instead (e.g. bonito, albacore, barracuda and yellowtail). Fork length is the straight-line distance from the tip of the head to the center of the tail fin (CCR Section 1.62). So again, lay the fish flat on its side, pinch the mouth closed and take your measurement from the tip of the head to the center of the fork of the tail. These are the only two measurements that you will need to know for the purposes of the regulations when measuring whole fish.


Question: What are the rules of the second rod stamp? Ive heard that as long as we have this stamp we can now fish with two rods in all waters of the state. Is this correct? (Theresa L.)

Answer: Not exactly. By purchasing the two rod stamp and affixing it to your license, licensed anglers and anglers under 16 years of age may fish with up to two rods in all inland waters that allow for the taking of fish by angling. The only exceptions are for those waters in which only allow artificial lures or barbless hooks may be used (CCR T-14 Section 2.00). In these gear-restricted waters, only one rod may be used — even if you have a second rod stamp.


1:  Abalone season closes, statewide, through the month of July.

Abalone season will re-open August 1. Details at

1:  MLPA South Coast Project Public Open House, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Aliso Creek Inn, 31106 South Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach. The public may review Round 2 draft MPA proposals, provide input on particular geographies and areas of interest, ask questions and learn about the next steps in the process. Details at

4:  Free Fishing Day, statewide, no license required, but all fishing regulations including bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect.

Details at  

6:  MLPA South Coast Project Public Open House, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Simons Banquet Center, Ports O’ Call Village, Berth 80: 1050 Nagoya Way, San Pedro. Details at

7:  MLPA South Coast Project Public Open House, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Marina del Rey Hotel, 13534 Bali Way, Marina del Rey. Details at

8:  MLPA South Coast Project Public Open House, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Residence Inn,  2101 West Vineyard Ave., Oxnard. Details at

9:  MLPA South Coast Project Public Open House, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Fess Parker’s Doubletree, 633 East Cabrillo Blvd., Santa Barbara.

Details at

13:  MLPA South Coast Project Public Open House, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Catalina Island, specific location to be announced. Details at

16:  Humboldt Bay Harbor Safety Committee Meeting, 9 to 10:30 a.m., to be followed by North Coast Area Committee Meeting, 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Both at Woodley Island Marina Conference Room, 601 Startare Dr., Eureka.

For details call (707) 443-0801.

18:  Lead-Free Shooting Event at Camp Roberts (north of Paso Robles), 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bring your own rifle and adequate ear and eye protection. Details at, or call the Institute for Wildlife Studies at (831) 524-6006.

21:  Oil Spill Technical Advisory Committee Meeting, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the California Maritime Academy, President’s Conference Room, 200 Maritime Academy Drive, Vallejo.  Details at

21:  San Francisco Area Committee Meeting, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., location to be announced. Details at

22:  San Diego Harbor Safety Committee Meeting, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Port District of San Diego Administration Building, 3165 Pacific

Highway, San Diego. Contact:  

25:  Mammoth Lakes Children’s Fishing Festival for High Sierra Trout at Snowcreek Ponds in Mammoth Lakes. DFG’s California Fishing Passport Program offers another fun-filled morning of trout fishing for kids up to age 12. This popular local event is sponsored by the Town of Mammoth Lakes, Mammoth Lakes Sports Fishing Association, United Anglers of Southern California and others. Details at, or call 888-GO-Mammoth (888-466-2666).

28-29:  MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force Meetings, all day, location to be announced. Details at

29-30:  Project WILD and Project WET workshops, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Grassland Environmental Education Center (GEEC), in the Los Banos Wildlife Area, 18110 West Henry Miller Ave., Los Banos. (GEEC will hold Open Houses on July 28 and 31.) The $30 registration fee will be refunded at the end of the workshop. Contact: or

(209) 704-4772.


Question: With the collapse of the salmon fishery in 2008, what was the reasoning for allowing people to fish for salmon in the Sacramento River? I saw numerous pictures of king salmon taken in the Sacramento River last year, but if there is a downfall in the species, this makes no sense. These fish have been traveling for miles only to be snagged by some angler. They are full of eggs and are a future resource. If we can’t fish in the ocean, how can we allow the river anglers to kill the spawners? Please have the powers that be answer why when we are worried about the number of fish (salmon) returning to the rivers, the Department of Fish and Game allows river fishing. (Todd F. and Bill G)

Answer: There are four distinct runs of Chinook salmon in the Central

Valley: fall run, winter run, spring run and late-fall run. The fishery closure in 2008 was enacted to protect the Sacramento River fall run Chinook. The limited 2008 fishery opportunity was designed to target the late-fall run Chinook (a different run of salmon) after the majority of the fall run Chinook of concern had moved upstream and out of the small area opened to fishing.

According to Senior Fisheries Biologist Scott Barrow, late-fall run Chinook have had a stable status of 10,000 to 18,000 adult salmon in the last five years with a historic range of 1,000 to 40,000 adults since 1996. The California Fish and Game Commission approved the 2008 recreational fishery from Knights Landing to Red Bluff Diversion Dam to target this stock, and it was successful with negligible impact on Sacramento River fall run Chinook.

Economically, the 2008 late-fall run fishery provided $1 million of economic benefit to the inland salmon fishing communities during the otherwise declared 2008 salmon disaster year (with its projected $255 million loss for the State of California.)

The good news for 2009 is that 122,100 adult Sacramento River fall run Chinook are projected to return to spawn. This is more than double the 2008’s projection of 59,000 returning adults. It also just meets the federal Salmon Fishery Management Plan conservation objective of 122,000 to 180,000 returning natural and hatchery adult Sacramento River fall run Chinook.

For 2009, the Pacific Fishery Management Council recommended and the Commission approved a 10-day ocean fishery in northern California to target Klamath River fall run Chinook stocks. Also approved was another limited recreational fishery for late-fall run Chinook on the Sacramento River from Knights Landing to the Red Bluff Diversion Dam, with a two-week delay in the opening date. Both of these limited area fisheries will have negligible impact on the Sacramento River fall run Chinook stock.

The rest of the Central Valley basin, which includes the Sacramento (excluding the area between Knights Landing and the Red Bluff Diversion Dam), Feather, American and San Joaquin rivers along with all of their tributaries, will remain closed to salmon fishing in 2009.

Also new for 2009: catch-and-release fishing for salmon is now illegal when salmon fishing is closed in all Central Valley areas.


SACRAMENTO – The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is employing new computerized technology to track 8 million baby fall-run Chinook salmon raised in Central Valley hatcheries. Information from coded wire tags implanted in the young fish will help fisheries managers make decisions regarding California’s multi-million dollar commercial and sport salmon fishery. This marking and tagging process is currently underway at the Nimbus Salmon Hatchery in Rancho Cordova.

“We are pleased to see this important project is under way to produce strategic information on Central Valley salmon,” said DFG State Fisheries Manager Neil Manji. “This collaborative project will yield critical data for improving the long-term management of fall-run Chinook salmon in the Central Valley.”

Information on salmon survival and return is critical to salmon managers as they seek to stop the depletion of Central Valley fall-run Chinook salmon stocks. This year’s salmon fishing closures on Central Valley salmon stocks will cost California an estimated $279 million in lost revenue and 2,690 jobs.

This year, DFG is using four state-of-the-art AutoFish System processing trailers that can mark and tag up to 350,000 young salmon in a day. The cooperative program is spearheaded by DFG and includes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. The CALFED Ecosystem Restoration Program provided more than

$6.7 million for initial equipment purchases and the first two years of project operations in 2007 and 2008. Beginning this year, operational costs of the program are funded by the hatchery mitigation agencies: The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the California Department of Water Resources and the East Bay Municipal Utilities District.

The new tagging program provides a consistent rate of marking and tagging for Central Valley hatcheries, thus helping biologists track harvest rates in the ocean and inland fisheries. The data collected are used to calculate the proportion of spawning hatchery and natural fish returning to the Central Valley, which affects season setting and harvest quotas in California’s multimillion dollar commercial and sport salmon fishery.

At the DFG Nimbus Fish Hatchery in Rancho Cordova, more than 4 million young salmon, called “smolts,” are currently being tagged and marked. Work is expected to be finished this week.

Salmon have already been marked and tagged at the Feather River, Mokelumne River, Nimbus and Coleman National Fish hatcheries. Nimbus Hatchery is the last of the Central Valley hatcheries to complete the process. At its conclusion, the state will have met its goal of tagging and releasing 8 million tagged fish. Central Valley hatcheries release

more than 32 million fall-run Chinook salmon annually.


Question: My husband and some friends and I were ice fishing in the Eastern Sierras the second day of the trout opener and we all caught some nice fish. As we were leaving the ice to return to our car, one of our friends who had a long drive ahead didn’t want to keep his fish and offered them to us. We already had our limits but he said, “You can have two limits in your possession so just say you caught mine yesterday.” We took the fish but didn’t feel right about it. Was this actually okay? (Mark S., Torrance)

Answer: No, not the way you did it. While you both were allowed to catch a limit of trout on the opening day and another limit on the second day and then have two limits in possession, by accepting his fish like you did, you could have been cited. Here’s why …

Your friend was within his rights to gift you his fish, and you were within your rights to accept them. However, without proof that these fish were actually taken legally by another licensed angler, any game warden you might meet in the parking lot or along the way that you showed your fish to would determine that you and your husband were in possession of an overlimit.

To avoid a misunderstanding like this, the best way to have handled it would have been to ask the angler giving you his additional fish to write you a note clearly stating this. The note should contain the date, his name, address, telephone number and fishing license number so that the note and your story could be verified, if necessary. Otherwise, you would likely be cited for being in possession of too many fish.


Question: We love to fish for crappy and are wondering if it is legal to fish for them at night, too. I am not aware of any California lakes that allow night fishing using lights off of your boat. Is this legal, and if so, what bodies of water allow this type of fishing? Thanks for all of your weekly information (W. Yamamoto).

Answer: Night fishing for crappy is permitted by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) as long as the lake where you plan to fish permits fishing at night (Section 2.15). Some lakes prohibit night fishing for purposes of access control, safety or security reasons. You will need to contact the agency or concessionaire managing the lake to inquire about their policy.  


Question: Do blue catfish reproduce in California lakes? If not, why? (Mike M., Anaheim)

Answer: Blue catfish can reproduce in lakes provided they have the right cave type of habitats, according to DFG Senior Environmental Scientist Mike Giusti. Spawning blue cats construct nests under overhanging rock ledges along deeply undercut banks and other sheltered places. In lakes that are self-contained where the lake managers purchase the fish from private hatcheries, DFG cannot be sure if those fish were genetically altered for increased growth. If they were, those fish could be infertile.


Answer: The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) uses a variety of methods to release fish into waters designated for receiving fish. In high-mountain waters that our planting trucks cannot reach, approximately 95 percent of the fish are planted by air. We also

transport fish for planting by horse, mule and backpack.

DFG is very selective in planting high mountain lakes. Lakes that are planted do not receive plants every year. According to Dr. William Cox, DFG Program Manager for Fish Production and Distribution, that is not necessary because the fish grow very slowly and the successive year plants would not produce fish with notable size differences. Usually they are planted every second or third year.