WON – Editorial
Whether it’s due to virus-plagued hatcheries, budget shortfalls, misallocated funds, COVID, leadership from city to state to federal levels deprioritizing fishing or even just just weak excuses, California is experiencing a trout shortage.
Lakes opting for private providers of hatchery rainbows are not immune, either, because anglers frustrated at the lack of trout plants at their local holes are going to look elsewhere, and most are willing to get up earlier and burn some gas in order to find spot where putting five on a a stringer is within the realm of possibility.
Lakes stocked by private (non DFW) hatcheries are no longer solely doing so for the benefit of local anglers, but those folks are the ones taking advantage of the best trout fishing a given lake has to offer, and most of that carnage is going down on the day a lake is stocked. Most anglers know the location their favorite lakes are stocked – and even on an unfamiliar lake, it’s easy to figure out – and there’s not many practical work-arounds there, but lake staffers or city personnel publicizing the day if not the time of the plant on social media or on their own websites is what creates that gauntlet.
That’s what needs to stop.
We get it. The line of cars outside the gate hours before opening eventually creates one satisfying cha-ching after another at the concession after the convoy hits the parking lot and fishing permits, cups of coffee and tubs of nightcrawlers get gobbled up by the trout-hungry herd. Hey, powers that be, is that micro-term cash spike worth the lull that follows due to the resulting narrative? Are you even aware of the narrative?
Western Outdoor News monitors lakes all over the state (and some outside it), so, we have a pretty good idea when it comes to the vibe. Putting all sources aside and focusing only on social media, the standard timeline is: lake announces stock date, vehicles line up on stock-day eve, photos of a line of cars with a (taken, ironically, by someone in the line) posted with a disapproving remark, live fishing reports and then weeks of discouraging “it’s fished out!” and all the “truck chasers” accusing each other of truck chasing before the cycle repeats when the next round of fresh trout arrive.
Sure, there’s an element of hypocrisy among those anglers, but on the other hand, it’s hard to blame them when they’re well aware of the fact that if they want to experience red-hot trout fishing, there’s not many options beyond competing with everyone else with the same thing in mind.
Why not keep stock dates under wraps? You can still announce how many pounds will be stocked over the course of the season, or how many times “this month” trout will go in. Even the DFW only publishes the week trout plants are scheduled to happen, not the day. The local top trout guns will hit the lake whenever they can (like their ancestors did), those discouraged by the narrative suggesting fishing is only good close to stock day and staying home will show up with the newly-equal playing field, crowds will spread out over the rest of the month making fishing more comfortable, and there will absolutely be more permits and worms and cups of Joe sold over the long run to all the new faces in the crowd.
With so many people looking to escape outside right now, let’s give the new recruits a reason to keep doing so when things go back to normal.