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GONE FISHIN’: Public help needed to support our wardens

Bruce Ajari, Sierra Sun

The shortage of Department of Fish and Game wardens in local waters is a huge concern among those sportsmen who appreciate their presence in preserving and enforcing state fish and game rules.

The Department presently has 35 vacant warden positions in the state, and only 17 candidates in their 2001 warden academy at Napa Valley College in Napa. Wardens are amongst the best-trained peace officers in the state. Their training is intense and on a par with large city police departments such as Los Angeles or the California Highway Patrol.

The problem in attracting wardens is simple. It is a matter of simple economics. A beginning warden with a college degree makes $32,763.

In contrast, a beginning highway patrol officer with a high school equivalency degree earns $47,455.

These salaries were once within 5 percent of each other. Through the years, the wardens have continually lost ground. They now make 40 percent less than their counterparts, the CHP. Last year it looked as if there was finally going to be some parity in the wage inequity.

After an intense lobbying effort, the Legislature appropriated $7.8 million to bring game wardens’ pay up to par with the CHP. Arguing that such matters should be taken care of through collective bargaining, not law, Gov. Gray Davis struck the item from the budget.

This spring the wardens are trying again. They will need the public’s help in order to succeed. A letter writing campaign is being started to let the legislature know that this is an important issue. Please take the time to write your legislator as well as the governor to fix this inequitable situation.

The Department is anticipating that 165 wardens could retire over the next five years. Out of a total 406 wardens, this is a huge number. Problems with recruiting are sure to keep numbers low at the warden academies if no progress is made in bringing these wages to a par with other peace officers. Wardens are also leaving to pursue careers with other law enforcement agencies so that they can support their families.

It is a huge problem that needs to be corrected before the Department of Fish and Game has no officers left to cover the state. A stable source of funding is needed in order to succeed. Department of Fish and Game funding is very much dependent upon the sale of hunting and fishing licenses and other user fees. These vary from year to year, which creates great difficulty in funding the department.

Local considerations such as affordable housing issues make it difficult to staff in certain areas of the state. Our region has had problems keeping staff in place in our expensive area. The present warden in our area has had to buy a house out of the area in order to house his family at a price his salary could stand.

Without wardens, our natural resources that we have struggled to maintain and improve are at risk. Without enforcement of the laws placed on the books to protect our wildlife and their habitat we stand to lose everything that we have gained.

Please take the time to write a letter to your elected officials, and the Governor if you are as concerned about this as I am. This inequity is wrong.

FISHING REPORT

Boca – (11,345 ac. ft.) Boca has been fishing fair. Anglers fishing from shore near the inlet are having some success. Anglers near the dam are still catching fish. Most anglers use nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Boaters are having some success. Most were using a combination of flashers and a nightcrawler or minnow imitating lure. Kokanee fishing should be improving. Flyfishermen near the inlet have experienced slow action. Very small midge patterns or streamers have accounted for most of the fish caught recently.

Donner Lake – Fishing has been slow. Anglers fishing for rainbows on the west end and near the launch ramp have had limited success. The water is still very cold. Nightcrawlers and Powerbait seem to be the main bait. Trollers using minnow imitating lures have had limited success.

Lake Tahoe – (Elevation 6226.33) Fishing has been good for mackinaw. Most fish are in the 5 to 7 pound range. A guide is highly recommended if you are fishing for mackinaw for the first time. Toplining and shore fishing is slow overall. Remember tributaries to Tahoe are closed to all fishing until July 1 and closes again on Sept. 30. No fishing is also allowed within 300 ft. of these tributaries.

Martis Lake – (Martis is restricted to artificial lures with barbless hooks. Zero fish may be bagged or possessed) The lake is presently at its normal level. Fishing was fair for the opener. Winds kept most people off the lake on Saturday. Most use nymphs such as the Hares Ear, Pheasant Tail, Damselfly imitations or the A.P. Streamers that imitate small fish, and woolly buggers are also good choices. For surface activity, patterns such as the Quigley Cripple, Martis Midge, Parachute Adams, and Griffith’s Knat are good choices.

Little Truckee River – (This area between Stampede Reservoir downstream to Boca Reservoir is now subject to artificial barbless lures with a two fish bag limit of fish 14 inches maximum) – (150 cubic feet per second) Fishing here was fair for the opener. Fishing has been slow near the inlet area of the Little Truckee into Boca reservoir. Fly fishermen fishing this stretch between Stampede and Boca concentrate on nymphs and streamers with occasional hatches where a dry fly can work.

Prosser – (10,226 ac. ft.) Prosser has been fishing fair. Fishing here is mostly with nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Fly fishermen near the inlets have taken a few fish mostly on nymphs and streamers.

Stampede – (188,662 ac. ft.) Stampede is fair. Shore anglers are taking a few fish, some very nice size ones. Most use the typical baits, nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Topliners have fair to good success for kokanee salmon. Most used a flasher of some sort and a kokanee bug or wedding ring with a piece of white corn. Look for improvement as the weather warms. Fly fishermen have had it tough during the early season near Stampede’s inlets. It has been hit or miss with a variety of nymphs, streamers and emergers.

Truckee River – The release was dropped last week and is presently at only 71 cubic feet per second from the dam at Tahoe City. In the Truckee area it is running at 272 cubic feet per second. The river was in great shape for the opener as predicted. Fishing was fair for the opener. Fly fishermen seemed to have some success with stonefly nymph imitations.

Other Waters – Davis and Frenchman lakes are fishing fair to good this past week. Reports indicate that fishing has been spotty. Pyramid Lake is just beginning to see an improvement of the fishing. Look for steady improvement through May.


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