California legislators cast for native trout and salmon at 2014 Casting Call.
By late morning yesterday, it was a blistering 95 degrees on the North Lawn of California’s State Capitol in Sacramento. But half a dozen state legislators braved the heat to join Trout Unlimited and California Trout for our 5th annual Casting Call event.
Casting Call is a celebration of California’s native salmon and trout, and aims to publicize the importance of healthy cold water fisheries to the state’s unique outdoor heritage and $2 billion sport fishing economy. The event is a blend of education, food and fun, highlighted by a friendly fly casting competition between legislators.
This year’s Casting Call was well-attended by state lawmakers, including Senators Tom Berryhill, Ted Gaines and Bob Huff, and and Assemblymembers Brian Dahle, Rich Gordon and Marc Levine. Berryhill, Huff and Dahle competed in the fly casting event and lightheartedly roasted Democrats for failing to show up for the competition.
California is in the grip of an extreme drought, so the primary theme of the 2014 Casting Call was to promote policies and programs at the state level that help trout and salmon survive such low-water periods.
A prime example is a joint state-federal effort known as the California Voluntary Drought Initiative. This initiative helps willing water users in high priority watersheds to reduce impacts on salmon and steelhead populations.
California has more species of native trout and salmon – sixteen – than any state other than Alaska. State actions and policies that protect stream flows and water quality, improve fish passage and increase floodplain habitat in the Central Valley will help protect and restore habitat and reverse the downward population trend for many of these fish.
“Given that trout and salmon are indicators of good water quality, and that water quality is important to people for their water supply, livelihoods and recreation, it just makes sense for legislators to help ensure that California’s trout and salmon get enough water at critical times to survive drought conditions,” said Brian Johnson, TU’s California Director.
“In many respects, the interests of cold water fish and people are actually pretty aligned,” Johnson added. “With some willingness to adopt new strategies for using and managing water in California, everyone – including trout and salmon -- should have enough water to meet their minimum needs, even in really dry years.”
Other highlights of the 2014 Casting Call included fly casting instruction from TU volunteers from our Sac-Sierra, El Dorado, and nascent Central Sierra chapters, “Chinookies” (salmon-shaped cookies), and “trout trivia” questions. Volunteers and staff from Trout Unlimited and California Trout talked with legislators and their staff and passers-by about trout and salmon conservation and the merits of fishing.
Click here to see TU's press release on the 2014 Casting Call.