By Anser Hassan

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – California is looking to reel in the money when it comes to those hooked on fishing. The state sells licenses that expire at the end of the year — no matter when you buy it. But a new bill passed by the Senate could change all that.

Chio Saele, who lives in North Highlands, may have just caught tonight’s dinner as he reels in a Black Bass caught at Folsom Lake. He and his family come to the lake to fish, sometimes two to three times a week. He likes the new changes being proposed the state’s fishing license.

“You buy it in July and ends next July. Yeah, that would be better,” he says.

Saele is talking about SB 187, proposed by Republican Senator Tom Berryhill (R-Twain Harte), which just passed the California Senate with a unanimous vote. It now goes to the State Assembly for a final vote. If approved, it would make California’s fishing license valid for 12 months from the time of the purchase.

The state’s current fishing license is sold on a calendar-year cycle, meaning regardless of when it is bought, it always expires at the end of the year. Lawmakers argue that system is a big reason for the decline in the sales of fishing licenses. Berryhill says recreational fishing contributes more than $4.5 billion each year to California’s economy.

Currently, at $47, California has the most expensive fishing license in the U.S. It’s 76 percent more expensive than the national average. At the same time, Berryhill says there has also been a 55 percent drop in the number of people getting their fishing license over the past 35 years, leaving California with the lowest recreational fishing rate per capita in the country.

That’s also lost revenue. SB 187 seeks to reverse course.

“This bill would not only improve access to recreational fishing, it will protect California jobs dependent on outdoor tourism,” said Berryhill.

Aaron Sanchez, 16, says he has been fishing since he was 6. He and his family come up from Stockton to fish at Folsom Lake and other areas in the Sacramento area.

“Salmon fishing. I love it – it’s a big fight, it’s a big fish,” he says.

Sanchez, too, says he recognizes the benefits that come with the proposed legislation.

“It makes it a lot easier because the day you bought it is the day it expires, so, it makes it a lot better. And you’re saving money, too,” he said.

SB-187 has broad support from labor and business groups. The money raised from increased sales will help to fund fishery and conservation programs.


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