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Wild and Heritage Trout Waters in California. (Photo: wildlife.ca.gov)

CA Department of Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Wants to Close Sportfishing Season Due to COVID-19

‘Controlling the movement of people’ for a large number of rural California counties

By Katy Grimes, April 7, 2020 8:40 am

Last week, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife delayed opening California’s recreational ocean salmon fishery through the month of April, despite plans made earlier this year for the fishery to open in some locations as early as this Saturday, April 4, because of the state’s “physical distancing requirements.”

The current coronavirus case numbers are:

16349 = Number of confirmed cases in the state of California

388 = Number of deaths related to the coronavirus in California

Today, Charles Bonham, director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife is proposing to postpone the sportfishing season through May in rural areas, the Sacramento Bee reported. “I myself want to go outdoors and recreate, but I’ve decided personally my duty is really to stay home, stay healthy and help save lives,” Bonham said. “On one hand, the outdoors is a place of solace and reinvigoration, for some folks, it’s very spiritual. We need those things in these desperate times. Conversely, if we’re not responsible and thoughtful of how we’re being outside, we can increase the risk in a moment of crisis.”

“This is so extremely stupid I go fishing in the mountains and I do not see anyone for miles,” one man commented on the article. “I am not going out into the mountains to visit people in the country, I am go to go fishing. Totally unnecessary and an abuse of authority!”


Location of confirmed COVID-19 cases. (Photo: screen capture, KCRA)
0 cases-Blue, 6000 cases -Gold



California Globe looked at the state County map of COVID-19 cases by KCRA:

  • Del Norte County: 2 cases reported, 0 deaths
  • Siskiyou County: 4 cases, 0 deaths
  • Shasta County: 21 cases, 3 deaths
  • Humbolt County: 49 cases, 0 deaths
  • Mendocino County: 4 cases, 0 deaths
  • Tehama County: 1 case, 0 deaths
  • Plumas County: 3 cases, 0 deaths
  • Butte County: 12 cases, 0 deaths
  • Glenn County: 2 cases, 0 deaths
  • Lake County: 1 case, 0 deaths
  • Colusa County: 2 cases, 0 deaths
  • Yuba County: 11 cases, 0 deaths
  • Sutter County: 16 cases, 2 deaths

Southern CA Rural Counties show far more cases and deaths:

  • Inyo County: 11 cases, 0 deaths
  • Tulare County: 135 cases, 6 deaths
  • San Bernardino County: 530 cases, 16 deaths
  • Riverside County: 946 cases, 25 deaths
  • Imperial County: 68 cases, 3 deaths

“Increased and irresponsible public usage of public lands by those who either ignore or misunderstand the orders put forth by public health officials … is creating unique challenges,” Staci Heaton, of the Rural County Representatives of California, said in a letter to Bonham.

“Heaton noted that rural communities are particularly at risk of being overwhelmed by a surge in COVID-19 patients. Many small hospitals have just a handful of ventilators necessary to keep patients breathing, and they are particularly at risk of having a shortage of healthcare workers should they start to come down with symptoms of the disease.”

“For a large number of rural California counties, controlling the movement of people – particularly urban/suburban non-residents drawn to rural recreation locales – is making it nearly impossible to control the spread of the Coronavirus into communities which lack the capacity to provide healthcare to their residents who may become infected,” Heaton wrote.

RCRC’s mission is: “RCRC provides the rural county perspective on a myriad of issues during the legislative and regulatory process, including land use, water and natural resources, housing, transportation, wildfire protection policies, and health and human services. The core of RCRC’s mission is to improve the ability of small, rural California county government to provide services by reducing the burden of state and federal mandates, and promoting a greater understanding among policy makers about the unique challenges that face California’s small population counties.”

With the significantly greater number of cases and deaths in the southern region, the focus should be on those rural areas rather than shutting down the entire parts areas of the state to sport fishermen.  This is bureaucracy and command and control at its ugliest.

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67 thoughts on “CA Department of Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Wants to Close Sportfishing Season Due to COVID-19

  1. I just hope and pray that, if nothing else, these absurd actions by these malevolent and useless bureaucrats is serving the purpose of waking more people up to what is really going on here.

    1. The reason for fishing season postponement is because of the small tourist communities that fisherman flock to during the season.
      I live in one of those small mountain tourist communities. Our community has a higher percentage of covid-19 cases per capita than the Bay Area. Small tourist towns are begging you not to come. Just until we this virus beat.

    2. Never mind that it’s not true and that no ban of the season was ever discussed. What was discussed was possible postponement of the opening of the season in some places based on local (not state) concerns that the virus could be spread at gas stations, boat launches, etc. Everything people touch is a potential disease vector. We need to be smart and take care of each other by taking care of ourselves and sacrificing a bit of individual freedom for a finite time to ensure our strength as a community.

    3. While I don’t like the restrictions…with just a little self introspection one should be able to see that these restrictions should be followed. Please be safe for all of us.

      1. Introspection has nothing to do with this. Epidemiologists Jim Enstrom and Jeffrey Klausner say, “Because of the epidemiologic characteristics of the novel coronavirus — the relatively short duration of infectiousness (~ 8 days) and low proportion of asymptomatic infection — there is low potential of COVID-19 to cause epidemic spread in the general population. While original models predicted massive spread resulting in infection of more than 50 percent of the general population, that has not occurred in any area.”

        1. You or any epidiemologist has no idea how many cases there are because we would need to do 200,000 to 500,000 tests a day to have an accurate picture. My er room could never handle even a minute surge and we have 0 icu beds. To push an early rather than late opening is asking for disaster. We worked on models of this in med school and US is doing some things very right and if they intensify for 8 to 12 more months we will save a million people this year who would not have periahed if not forc19.

  2. So sick of this self-righteous proclamation by bureaucrats like Charles Bonham that “they are saving lives.” What about the people who must be in despair, who aren’t in the news (except for places like The Globe), who have been forbidden to go to work but who must still take care of their families and pay the bills? Who are truly between a rock and a hard place now? Who, ironically, are the ones who pay the bureaucrats like Charles Bonham (et al’s) salaries? What about THEIR lives? Where is the show of at least SOME help from CA leaders by repealing, e.g., AB5, ASAP? Come ON now, let’s get real, these people aren’t serious about helping anyone but themselves.

  3. With thousands of miles of rivers and creeks, hundreds if not thousands of lakes I wonder how Mr. Bonham if this were to come to pass how he plans to enforce this?

    1. My Question I have 3 fishing poles & it’s a Spirtual Mental cleansing for me to take my dog & just sit alone at the lake. This isn’t right at all.

    2. Hopefully there should be no reason to police it. It should come naturally to someone who Cares for others besides just themselves.

  4. In this case, can I get a refund for my fishing license. if I can’t fish, no point of having a license. I solo fish and i there aren’t many people where I fish

  5. Oh, by the way, isn’t this the same commission that has utterly failed to get rid of the invasive nutria swamp rat that reproduces exponentially and has torn up the Delta?

  6. How in the world do these people ever get elected? I hope that people remember this and vote in a more educated way. This is truly sad.

  7. Everyone’s trying their best to stay safe during this but this is just over the top. Our Fish and Wildlife director thinks we all go to the lake to socialize and be close to strangers? NEGATIVE. If I come within twenty feet of someone on a river or at a boat ramp something’s wrong. Very controlling move from our lovely government.

    1. It’s not those of us that fish that are the problem. But if they open it up to us the zoo of idiots that won’t obey the safety rules will come too. From 20 plus family member groups establishing a 100’ plus beach head and smothering out all the open space to party boaters getting wasted, and hanging all over everyone and trashing all the facilities without care.

      Unfortunately we can’t trust that everyone will act responsibly. So as usual the bad actors get us all punished and regulated.

  8. Fine no fishing out in the wilderness. Then we won’t need any of these goons. Lay them all off for 60 days.

  9. This is unnecessary. A lot of the lakes and reservoirs are already shut down in Northern California or at least public access to them. (Boat launch) Which to me doesn’t make sense. Keep the boat ramps open with a fee drop box. No picnic, no campground. My boys love to fish and with all that is going on this is an outlet they could use. I believe that fishing is a great activity for social distancing. Set some rules don’t take away the privilege.

  10. I can understand that there is a safety concern with transient sportsmen from more densely populated areas coming into our rural counties to recreate. Then why not have people fish within their own county? And for those people that insist on standing shoulder to shoulder on a shoreline or boat, why? I would temporarily suspend any charters/guide services, have people fish in their home county and enforce social distancing on shorelines and boats. Make people pay a $1000 fine and lose their license for a year if they violate the temporary order. Desperate times call for desperate measures, but at least we could all go fishing. And you really need to open the launch ramps. I reside with my daughter and girlfriend. I’m fortunate enough to be able to own a small boat and kayaks. Why can’t people who live together recreate and fish together??? That seems to violate several laws.

  11. This is absolutely absurd. I am sick of these leftist idiots trying to control me and my family through a bullshit pandemic.

  12. Us who live in these rural areas, have been practicing Social Distancing for the length of time we have been living here. Why? I would just hazard a small guess. We do not like large crowds of people, we don’t like lines, traffic, crowded public transportation, or being in such close proximity to our neighbors. To suggest that outdoor activities like fishing, driving through the country, camping, star gazing, and hiking, among other like activities, being a threat to the spread of disease, is on its face absolutely absurd. We are social distance professionals.

  13. I’ve been practicing social distance since my first boat was purchase over 20 years ago. Just another way to control people.

    California hates fishermen.

  14. Set guidelines on how many people per boat, how many people on the bank fishing. There is no reason we can’t do that and live our life without infecting others this way.

  15. So does that mean will be getting a refund on our fishing license and. And a refund on our annual parking

    1. I haven’t heard anything about the commercial fishing season? If the sport season is going to be suspended then all fishing should be suspended and refunds should be giving back to those who have bought license is already

  16. No different than being at home with your family. Probably even safer. Just one more way to control us. Fish and Game are supposed to be doing what’s best for the fish and wildlife not us. Stick to what you are supposed to be doing. And quit trying to control us

  17. WHY??
    You usually fish alone not with a group. This is the dumbest thing I’ve seen so far.
    There is no reason to not continue fishing, it’s a solitary activity you can do to pass the time during this whole quarantine mess.
    Leave it be!

    1. Just like Hiking, Biking trails, Kayaking…. now Fishing…. Government abuse of power and fear mongering is out of control.

  18. This is the result of when people keep electing Liberals into office. They want power and control over your life. This is total overreach of government. Fishing is a solitary activity, not a group gathering. Candidates with a (D) after their name should no longer be given the chance to control our world and take away our freedom. DFW, start managing the wildlife, stop this communist behavior.

  19. Cant wait to have CA and the dfw tell me that I can’t take my fishing boat that is parked in a slip in a CA harbor out by myself for food, but would rather have me go to costco for my food where everyone is breathing on each other and spreading the virus. I will drag these scum bags and the state so hard into a lawsuit

  20. So let me get this straight. You can go out to get groceries at a supermarket where idiots working and shopping don’t fallow the rules, get home delivery of food by people working and delivering unprotected, get packages maybe contaminated delivered by people unprotected, and the list goes on and on. I can see an issue with guided fishing, but seriously you can’t go fishing with someone that know who is doing the same protective measure as you staying at home? When you fishing you’r more likely to be 6’ away. What about riding in cars with people you know? People eat fish as part of their diet, if you buy it at a store some one might have handled the package. I take every precaution, but this is the most ridiculous law ever. Asshats!

  21. no work, no money, no job, no food. fishing at least lets you eat. i think these enforcers want all the fish to themselves

  22. Y’all can’t read.

    From the Sac Bee: “Some rural communities fear too many out-of-town anglers would import the new coronavirus and infect residents.”

    And from the Sac Bee: “The intent of the state’s proposed order was more limited, however. The Fish and Game Commission’s teleconference meeting Thursday was supposed to decide whether to give emergency powers to Charlton Bonham, Newsom’s appointee overseeing the Department of Fish and Wildlife, so he could close fishing season in certain areas at the request of local officials.”

    LOCAL officials want the governor to play the bad guy. That should be respected. It’s only temporary anyway. Jeesh people. Clean out yer depends.

  23. I read this report from the source and it stated that only two counties who have requested a delay to the start of the season would be affected and it would have to be at the request of the local council. So is this story misleading as it is saying that they want to close the season of fishing in California……

  24. Is it at all surprising that a so-called conservative news outlet is, in fact, spreading false news? Hardly.

    1. If you don’t believe CA Globe, here is what the Sacramento Bee reported: “California is poised to close the spring sportfishing season in some counties in response to worries that anglers will spread COVID-19 to rural communities.”

      “The state’s Fish and Game Commission will meet via teleconference Thursday to decide whether to grant emergency powers to Charlton Bonham, the director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The move would give him the authority to postpone the sportfishing season through May in certain areas, Bonham said Monday in an interview with The Sacramento Bee.

      The proposal would allow Bonham to stop or delay the fishing season only in certain regions at the request of local and tribal governments and health officials. He said the move isn’t unprecedented. Many popular waterways were closed to fishing during California’s last historic drought to protect fish from over-harvest as water levels dropped.”

  25. This is an excellent example of California Bureaucrats over reaching. And here I thought our greatest danger was grocery shopping! Apparently not!

  26. To all you constitutional experts out there (AKA, f’in drama queens), chill out!!! The only reason the DFG is discussing the delay of the start to the trout opener (and not a statewide ban on fishing) is because the representatives of Inyo and Mono counties have requested a delay to the start of trout season. These counties do not want their residents, health care system, or infrastructure to be overrun by the masses from counties that have high Covid-19 infection rates. Put yourselves in their shoes!

    Before you blame the deep state or elected liberal officials as an over reach, or a power grab, keep in mind this request came from two heavily republican counties. If you have a beef with your constitutional rights being violated please send your complaints directly to them. We will fish again, and the fish will be biting bigly.

  27. they havent even had their “meeting” yet and all the north state lakes in rural shasta county are closed, gated and locked with big signs that say ‘closed due to COVID-19″

    SEEMS TO ME the demoncrats are getting what they want.

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