The California Drought and Fly Fishing

The 2013 calendar year was without question the driest on record for most of California. There is very little to no snow pack in the Sierra Nevada range or Trinity Mountains, and the forecast for the extended January period is dry with a high pressure dominating the sky. Yes, we are in a drought. But we still have three months of possible wet weather remaining so anything is possible, we could be begging for it to stop a month from now.  There is a chance 2014 will not become a drought year but it’s not looking good up to this point.   Thanks to political campaigns by the state’s governor drought or no drought, after last Friday Californian’s have something much more to be concerned about.

California's Drought look to effect more than just fly fishing and the guides who work on the river.

California’s Drought looks to effect more than just fly fishing and the guides who work on the river thanks to Jerry Brown. (NWS image)

On Friday morning an emergency drought declaration was signed by Governor Brown at a press event in San Francisco. California’s foremost environmental law no longer protects wildlife or the environment from the effects of the state’s response to the drought.

“The exemptions apply to the agencies in carrying out orders in the drought declaration relating to dam releases and transfers of water between the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. Both CEQA and the requirement that agencies follow water quality plans serve to protect California’s beleaguered fish populations, including the Central Valley’s salmon runs and the Delta smelt, which is listed as Endangered under the California Endangered Species Act.”

This could mean more than just cutting back on watering the lawn and flushing the toilet for fisherman across the state but also stifle the health of our already struggling ecosystems. We are on the water daily as fly fishing guides based out of Redding, CA. Our business (catch and release only) requires not just clean water but clean practices.  It’s not about our jobs and providing income, it’s about protecting what we have.  Even in a drought scenario there are laws in place to protect resources for future generations, not just a term in a political office. Our wild salmon and steelhead runs having been hanging on by a thread and Governor Brown’s clandestine agenda’s may finally unravel and shred the last one. This is also the guy that wants to dig a billion dollar tunnel to ship water from the California’s central valley’s system  into Southern California.

As a fly fishing guide in Northern California working on the Sacramento River system I am worried not about what a drought might do to our natural resources but rather what politics might unleash in wake of a completely natural event that often occurs when you live in a desert.

What do you think?  Did you know what Jerry Brown meant when he declared a drought? I didn’t.

CA water storage and what it means to anglers.

CA water storage and what it means to anglers.

Here is a look at California’s drought scenarios. Maps, reservoir levels and a glimpse of what it can mean for your favorite river to go fly fishing at. Changes are coming: “Resistance is futile: Inevitable changes to water management in California.”

More info and Maps:

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