National Hunting and Fishing Day was celebrated on Saturday, Sept. 28. In conjunction with this annual observance, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds Californians of the plentiful opportunities to enjoy hunting and fishing in the state and commends them for their commitment to conservation.
President Richard Nixon signed the first proclamation of National Hunting and Fishing Day in 1972. It is annually held on the fourth Saturday in September to promote outdoor sports and conservation. Shortly after this proclamation was signed, participation in hunting and fishing started to steadily decline in California and nationwide. Because of the important financial and volunteer contributions that hunters and anglers make to conservation and wildlife management activities, the decline in participation poses an ever-increasing threat to our natural resources. As a result, CDFW is leading the effort in California to increase participation through its involvement with the nationwide campaign to recruit, retain and reactivate (R3) hunters and anglers. The California R3 effort is engaging diverse hunting and fishing stakeholder groups to turn barriers to hunting and fishing into opportunities for participation.
California is the third-largest state in the nation and approximately half of its land is publicly owned. That translates into millions of acres of huntable public property on which CDFW offers varied hunting opportunities.
In 2018, 269,277 licensed hunters contributed approximately $26.2 million toward wildlife management and conservation activities in the state. Wildlife management and conservation activities have resulted in many success stories for various species around the state, including the Tule elk, wild turkeys, Desert Bighorn Sheep, Aleutian Canada Goose, numerous ducks, among others, over the years in California.
Fishing opportunities also abound in the more than 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, 4,172 lakes and reservoirs and 80 major rivers in California. The state features more than 1,100 miles of coastline that is home to hundreds of fish and shellfish species.
CDFW offers two “free fishing” days each year in the state, and this year prospective anglers received those opportunities on July 6 and Aug. 31. Fish production is also an important CDFW activity which in 2018 produced millions of pounds of trout for recreational angling.
Last year, CDFW issued 1.77 million fishing licenses and those licenses (including report cards and validations) generated $66.9 million in funding for fisheries management and protection.
Fisheries management and conservation activities have also resulted in numerous success stories over the years in California for various species around the state, including wild trout, landlocked salmon, Largemouth Bass and the Alabama Spotted Bass.
These management activities are funded by hunting and fishing dollars. In order to help increase the number of success stories and contribute to these important conservation and wildlife management activities, consider helping by signing up to take a hunter education course, visit the CDFW website to learn more about participating in fishing and hunting opportunities, or reach out to your local CDFW office or the statewide R3 coordinator to seek guidance on getting started.
Many hunting and fishing seasons are currently open and provide opportunity to acquire lean, antibiotic-free protein sources such as wild trout and other fish, deer, bear, dove, tree squirrel, rabbit and other upland game.
For more information on hunting and fishing opportunities in the Golden State, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov. For information on hunter education, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunter-education. For information on how to purchase a hunting or fishing license, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/online-sales.