Let's Go Fishing Report

Monterey Bay

Patrick Wright from Santa Cruz fished whole squid in 75 feet of water for this nice dinner-sized haibut on Monday this week.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Let's Go Fishing Radio Show

by Allen Bushnell

I don’t think it’s what the Beach Boys had in mind when they produced the 1963 hit “Shut Down,” but that’s the song running through my head all day. Over the past couple weeks, we have seen the California Department of Fish and Wildlife postpone salmon season and all the coastal harbors close their launch ramps, reverting to essential services only. And then the Santa Cruz County Health Department closed all access and use of county beaches. The Santa Cruz Harbor announced on Wednesday additional constrictions on all activities, in accordance with the County Health Department. “This closure includes, but is not limited to, walking, running, jogging, horseback riding, cycling, surfing, paddleboarding and kayaking. Public restrooms will be closed in the harbor area, and visitor parking will be limited to 20 minutes,” announced Marian Olin, Port Director.

At the time of this writing, it is unclear as to whether or not Monterey County will be closing all beach access as well. San Mateo County officially closed all beach parking lots two weeks ago, and anecdotal reports indicate law enforcement is issuing citations for vehicles parked in unmarked roadside turnouts. So, as it stands, anglers are effectively shut down from any access to fishing opportunities, except for those fortunates who already have boats docked in slips at the harbors and can maintain proper social distancing aboard their vessels.

But wait, there’s more. On Tuesday this week, the CDFW announced an emergency meeting, saying, “The California Fish and Game Commission will remotely meet to discuss delegating temporary authority to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to delay, suspend or restrict sport or recreational fishing if the director of CDFW, in consultation with the president of the Commission, finds that such action is necessary to protect against the threat from COVID-19 based on state, federal, local, and tribal public health guidance and public safety needs.” Public comment was invited via telephone or website, but we have seen how well that works in the past. It is very likely the Commission will instruct the CDFW to “shut ‘em down.”

I get it. This is an unprecedented international medical emergency. The drastic steps attached to shelter in place models are there to save lives and I am all for that. However, shutting things down may prove easier than opening things back up. There are no firm deadlines for these measures. Recent experience has shown just the opposite to be true. Travel and social limitations have all been extended, every one. Increasing politicization of this issue is pretty much a foregone conclusion. Nothing works better to drag things out than to frame it in politics. Hopefully sooner, rather than later, we’ll be singing a different tune, perhaps “I Get Around!”

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