My new Assembly Bill 478, will raise the age requirement for the purchase of fishing licenses by two years. By raising the age from 16 to 18 years, we will expose larger numbers of California’s youth to nature, expand their life experiences and perhaps, their futures.
This is especially important for youth living in inner cities or underserved communities. For many kids, putting down the iPhone or shutting off the video game to pick up a fishing pole may be something they may never get a chance to experience. Making fishing more affordable puts the sport within reach of many who would normally not be able to afford it.
There has been a stark decline in fishing license sales in California in the past few years. At $47.01 per year, with a $14.61 additional rod add-on, California’s annual resident fishing license fee is the second-highest in the country. Since 71% of anglers started to fish prior to age 18, removing barriers that prevent families from introducing kids to fishing will go a long way toward ensuring the survival of the sport. If the kids get hooked early, just maybe they’ll buy a license when they turn 18.
The Kiwanis Fishing Derby, open to all ages and held in many locations, including the annual Trout Derby in April at Escondido’s Dixon Lake, is just one example. These events have attracted thousands of children over the decades. Our kids love to fish and experience nature; they just need to be exposed to it.
By allowing minors to fish free for an additional two years, AB 478 will help get kids out of their rooms, away from electronic distractions and into the great outdoors where they can experience California’s natural heritage.