SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Outdoor recreation lovers shut down a state-run fish and game meeting Thursday morning, forcing it to be rescheduled.
The debate erupted over the decision to delay the start of the trout fishing season, something the governor wants to do.
Fishermen were fired up during a virtual meeting, rocking the boat over a move that would cut their life-line to a little peace and relaxation during this stay-at-home order.
The California Fish and Game Commission met Thursday morning to discuss delaying the start of sport and recreational fishing, including the popular trout season, scheduled for April 25.
The governor says calls have come from smaller counties worried the influx of trout fishermen could put a strain on their hospitals if a coronavirus hot spot should erupt.
“We just want to delay, not deny that season,” Newsom said.
But the open meeting to “discuss” the proposal erupted in chaos.
“This is the first time trying a massive meeting like this under a crisis situation and the comments are not helpful,” a Fish and Game Commission member said.
Those on the line were then asked to hit the “mute” button, but most didn’t, and some twisted a well-known political slogan for their cause saying, “let’s make fishing great again.” Others recited bible verses.
A chaotic chorus of discontent was not the best way to go, says one longtime fisherman we spoke with along the river near Clarksburg.
“There’s a lot of anglers who are clearly passionate about the situation. They want to keep fishing. I want to keep fishing as well,” Ricky Acosta said. “I think there’s a right way to go about voicing your opinion.”
Acosta said a caller yelling “fascist” during the meeting may not have been the best way to get their opinions across.
In the end, it was one fisherman on the line who cast out some words of warning to the commission.
“You cancel, we’re just coming back,” the caller said.
The virtual meeting was ultimately postponed due to the disruptions.
Commission President Eric Sklar and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham issued a joint statement following the first meeting saying in part: “We also want to make it crystal clear that today’s proposed decision was not about banning fishing statewide or locally. We are not contemplating statewide closure. The decision is to help prepare us to work with counties and tribes to make those decisions based on their requests. We are working on a tailored and surgical approach based on local needs and knowledge.”
So for now, there’s no timeline on when an official decision to delay sports fishing will come down. It may be left up to individual county leaders to decide.