Where’s the water?
Frustrated fishermen keep asking, ” Where’s the water?” It’s a legitimate question. Despite a lot of rain last winter, central California is still suffering through low water levels.
This is my dock on a large lake in Central California. The closest water is almost 3/4 mile from where this picture was taken. The “full” level is the light brown line just below the trees.
Many of the lakes in central and southern California are man-made. Steep inland hills and valleys make great reservoirs when damed. Agriculture is the major industry across the state. The reservoirs provide water to nearby farms and local townships. As water levels drop across an area in the heat of summer, shrinking lakes drop further when water is released for use elsewhere. Certainly, water for crops and cities is more important that the need to wake-board or swim. But, all fishermen know that water for fishing must come before everything. The fact that water, saved after a rainy day, is used and not be replenished is a major concern being studied around the world, but particularly in California.
Rivers and Lakes
My wife and I have have a weekend getaway spot on a lake where water levels rise and fall dramatically. Two years ago, I was able to pull my boat into our backyard and fish right behind our patio.
Here is the little bay behind our place today. There was over 30 feet of water two years ago.
Northern California, with the northwestern weather systems, is not as affected by drought. The Sierra’s, with mountain streams and high elevation snow run off, provide water to the rest of California through an aqueduct system. Water is then pulled by towns and farms where needed preventing severe water shortage in times of low rain. More reservoirs are needed where runoff drains to the ocean.
Climate Change and Fishermen
Trolling slowly on a calm lake or fishing from the bank on a beautiful day, its easy to forget weather patterns. Most fisherman only think about the weather when it affects a fishing trip. Many are beginning to realize that their favorite lake is closed because of low water much sooner than usual. Or, that the little bay they used to fish no longer exists. No one can say for sure that climate change is affecting water levels and, consequently, fishing in certain parts of California. But, something seems to be different. Increased water demand from an increased population may be behind the low water trend.
Global warming from green house gas emissions, as some say, may be the cause. At the very least, fishermen should become as aware of changing weather as they are about fishing seasons. Then, they can think about a cause for the change. And then, decide whether they need to do something to address the cause of changing weather. Not long ago, I was fishing so much that my doctor suggesting reeling with my opposite hand to address pain in my wrist. This year, it was difficult to find a place to launch my boat. I don’t really know why. But, I hear the term “global warming” a lot. Now, I am keeping track of water levels and seasons trying to find out if there is a link between that term and frustrated fishermen. I hope you think about it, too.
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