Mono County Officials Move to End 'Loophole' Fishing

Times Staff Writer

Mono County Supervisors and officials of the California Department of Fish and Game have moved to close the loophole on so-called "loophole" fishing in the Eastern Sierra--at the same time apparently serving the purpose of some who were using the loophole to promote year-round angling.

The supervisors, meeting in Bridgeport earlier this week, voted to recommend to the Fish and Game commission to close all fishing in the Eastern Sierra when the trout season closes Oct. 31.

But Phil Pister, a DFG associate fishery biologist based in Bishop, said that the department also planned to recommend that the commission approve a winter-fishing experiment on a section of the Upper Owens above Benton Crossing.

That experiment is what Dick Dahlgren, president of the Mammoth Flyrodders fishing club, was after.

He had forced the issue by fishing with certain other members on the Upper Owens River over the last two winters, when trout season was closed.

For the record, Dahlgren and the others said they weren't fishing for trout but for Sacramento perch or other species for which there is no closed season--hence, the loophole. If they caught a trout, they would put it back--the catch-and-release policy adhered to by most fly fishermen.

Richard May, president of the conservation group California Trout, wrote to the supervisors supporting a totally closed season.

"CalTrout believes there are reasons to have closed seasons on trout, as well as reasons for some waters to have year-round fishing," May wrote.

Although most areas of California and the West have year-round fishing, Pister said there are reasons the Eastern Sierra doesn't: cold weather and relatively low snow levels to insulate the streams.

"These streams turn into big masses of ice and subject the fish to trauma," Pister said.

In campaigning for year-round fishing, Dahlgren and Rick Rockel, a CalTrout leader and tackle store owner in Bridgeport, had cited how Eastern Sierra businesses suffered during the off-season.

"That may be, but that's just too bad," Pister said. "We're not in business to keep people in business. Conversely, good resource management in the long run is the best for business, too."

Besides, Pister said, referring to Dahlgren and Rockel: "They knew very well that we've got that (experiment) in the mill for the next regulation change. They were both sitting there in the (Mono County) Board of Supervisors' room when we outlined this very carefully in March."

According to the Mono County Review-Herald, Dahlgren endorsed the position of CalTrout and the supervisors, with the condition that those groups also support the DFG experiment.

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