DFG's new process for buying a fishing license is a big hassle

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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Have you gone to your local sporting goods store to purchase a fishing license as a stocking stuffer for Christmas? All fishing licenses expire Dec. 31.


I went to store after store. Because of the new fishing license sales program instituted by the Department of Fish and Game, numerous stores quit carrying and selling licenses.


The Department of Fish and Game does much good, but once in a while, it makes some awfully stupid decisions. And now, it has a lulu.


In past years – up to last year – you could walk into a store, lay down your cash and purchase as many licenses for as many people you wanted. All you had to do was provide a name for each license.


Some anglers take a party boat onto ocean water, and the skipper could issue a one-day license to anybody without a current license.


Not anymore.


There’s now a lengthy computerized process to obtain a license. First and foremost, you have to provide the user’s name and date of birth. Next, you need to provide a state ID, which can be the intended user’s driver’s license or identification card number, passport, green card, military ID or foreign government ID number.


If you find a store that sells licenses, you won’t be able to purchase one without having that data.


Oh, you can purchase a voucher for each person for whom you hope to obtain a license, but that just means the person then must revisit the store to provide the data you didn’t have.


I finally went online, and you can make the complete purchase and have the license mailed to you. The process accepts most credit cards. At the end of the process, you can print a copy of the license, which will be good for use until you receive the real one.


To purchase a fishing license online, go to and click on “License Sales.” Another couple of clicks will get to the sales portion.

I feel assured the DFG can produce pages of justification for this move.

Hunting and fishing license sales have seriously decreased over the years, and the new, utterly idiotic process will just further alienate the fishing public.


California can pretty much guarantee further decreases in license sales – or more people hitting the waterways without going through the hassle of buying a license.


Why Folsom Lake is kept at minimum depth in the winter

People often wonder why lakes like Folsom are kept at a particular minimum depth rather than filling as rains allow during the winter. Folsom Lake and Lake Shasta have twice the amount of water than what they had at the same time last year.


Today, they’re releasing massive amounts of water to maintain the lake at the minimum depth and allow for the current round of storm rainfall as inflow.


But why the minimum depth to begin with?


In the mid 1960s, there was a major problem in the hills. The dam at Hell Hole Reservoir gave way, and there was something like a 20-foot wall of water rushing down the canyon, headed straight for Folsom Lake.


Knowing all that water was coming down the hill, they opened the gates at Folsom Lake. It was the first time in the American River’s history to hit flood stage. It was unknown whether the dam at Folsom would hold due to the pressure of the onslaught of water.


The dam, of course, did hold. But, to ensure there’s always space in the lake for rain inflow in the winter and snow runoff inflow in the spring and early summer, the lake is kept at a minimum level throughout the winter.


Current fishing

American River: The traditional opening is Jan. 1, and most anglers who wish to pursue a fresh-run steelhead look forward to the upper stretch of the river re-opening to fishing.


However, with the current releases out of Folsom Lake and, concurrently, Nimbus, the river would be much too dangerous to fish. Water clarity is seriously affected, and you couldn’t add enough weight to your line to get and stay anywhere near the bottom, where the steelies are.


Sacramento River: Considerable water is coming down the system, from the north out of Shasta with big additions from the Feather and American rivers. When flows become massive, they pick up debris from the shoreline that had been well away from the water line. There can be large rafts of debris to full trees.


Regardless how high the rivers rise, it never seems to have any effect on the water levels at the Port of Sacramento. And, if a window opens to allow you to get out, close trips to Lake Amador and Camanche Lake would offer good angling opportunities.


To our readers: May you have a very Merry Christmas and a safe and sane New Year.


Contact George deVilbiss at