Despite Fishing Closures, CDFW Won’t Issue Refunds for California Fishing Licenses

Following pleas from multiple rural counties, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife decided to delay fishing season in select locations due to the Coronavirus. And despite complaints about the fishing ban being unconstitutional, the CDFW officially delayed fishing season in Inyo, Mono, Alpine and Sierra Counties this week.

The delay to trout fishing season in portions of California have drawn plenty of critics, including people demanding a refund to their fishing licenses. We now know that won’t happen.

The CDFW addressed the issue on social media this week, announcing that they won’t be refunding licenses because fishing remains open “statewide” and the money from the licenses is used for crucial conservation efforts in California tributaries.

“California fishing license purchases provide a dedicated source of funding for management and protection of the state’s fisheries and for fish hatchery operations,” the department said on social media. “CDFW is continuing to stock fish during the COVID-19 pandemic so that anglers will have access to those fish and likely amazing fishing in the very near future. Fishing license purchases also help support California’s long-standing fishing heritage for today and future generations!”

The announcement is far from a surprise, considering the refund of the thousands of fishing licenses would cripple the department’s ongoing projects and have a devastating impact on the state’s fisheries. But it’s sure to draw the attention of the passionate anglers against the delay.

The decision to delay of fishing season in four rural counties was made in order to qualm concerns of localized Covid-19 breakouts. All four counties asked state officials for the delay to avoid fishing tourism in their area and subsequently slow the spread of the virus locally. The delay to the opener in these counties expires May 31, 2020.

“After talking with the county representatives, we agreed this was a necessary step toward being responsive to local needs in this public health emergency,” said CDFW Director Charlton Bonham. “These counties asked for our help, and we responded.”

While fishing is open for most of the state, fishermen are encouraged to use safe social distancing practices.

“I understand Californians desperately need the outdoors for solace, reinvigoration and spirituality, especially so right now,” said Bonham. “The proposal was never about a statewide permanent closure. It is about being responsive to local needs in this public health emergency, where we must do all we can as Californians to help each other make it through this together. We intend to use this authority surgically and based on local needs and knowledge.”

While fishing may be open for much of California, there are many access points and boat launches that remain closed. Do your research before heading out on the water. 

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California


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