The Bakersfield area will receive about one third the number of planted trout this fall-winter season as it has in previous years, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), which recently held a public informational meeting in Bakersfield. Four years ago the DFW was planting the region with about 22,000 pounds of rainbow trout annually. This year the allotment is scheduled to be about 8,500 pounds.
Of course DFW is blaming lack of funding and increased costs for the decline.
“Basically, they came down to tell us that trout chow is up so much that we’re going to get one-third the number of trout this year. It’s not looking good,” said Clay Rutledge at Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield.
DFW also received half its allocation from a special trout hatchery fund from the legislature; the funding came after the DFW had to plan for this year’s trout plants. The whirling disease outbreak in the Darrah Springs and Shasta hatcheries also impacted the number of trout available statewide. Lastly, maintenance on the aging hatcheries and a fleet of hatchery trucks that are mostly antiques gobble up funding that should be used on fish if the DFW’s hatchery infrastructure had been maintained over the years.
Fishing license sales are on track in 2015 to set a new record low, with fewer licenses sold in all categories. Yet revenue from those licenses sold is trending upward because of increased license, tag, and permit fee costs to anglers. Anglers continue to pay more money for far less return on their investment from the agency.
The cutbacks in the Bakersfield region outlined during the meeting this past week apply to all of the state, with cutbacks ranging from two-thirds to half of what was planted last year.