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Editorial: Yearly Fishing License

Editorial: Once more into the (fishing license) breach, dear friends!

BY MIKE STEVENS/WON Staff WriterPublished: Mar 12, 2019

Last week, Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) penned Assembly Bill 1387, which is the latest attempt at dumping the current calendar-based fishing license deal for a 365-days-from-purchase situation.

At this point, that kind of thing might cause you to roll your eyes. We’ve been here before and as close as it gets, it always has led to a big letdown.


For some reason, this round feels different. There is always hope.


We’re not going to waste time detailing the clear as day reasons for a fishing license that expires a year from when you buy it. How license sales have decreased while population increased, how well such a licensing program works in other states, and how much better anglers in other states have it — in this department anyway — than us.


But, there are some interesting fringe items to this pitch. Along with replacing the current system with a fishing license valid for 12 months from the date of purchase, there will be no increase in fee charged for the 365-day license as the calendar version. Small potatoes, because we already pay plenty for our licenses, but there are a couple interesting add-ons.


One would allow anglers to sign up for automatic renewals. This has been in play in Florida since 2015, and it has resulted in renewal rates increasing by around 4 percent. Now, “one less thing to think about” is something we can wrap our nets around.


Another would call on the Department of Fish and Wildlife to develop an app that can display an angler’s license status (hunting licenses, too) on mobile devices. Even for the guy who doesn’t carry a phone around on the water or in the field, at least it could act as a backup if a license is left at home. Outdoorsmen in other states are already taking advantage of similar apps that deliver info on fishing locations, regs, stocking, even campground reservations.


On the surface, it’s an eye roller, but it doesn’t matter. We have to get behind it, once again. It would be a major and seemingly obvious first step to not only slowing down and ultimately stopping our declining participation rates, but once this biggie is in the rear view mirror, we can move on to get some momentum in the right direction.


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