Surf Fishing Tag Limited Numbers and Increased Fees Meeting
Today was the day for the meeting about raising surf fishing tag fees and capping the limits of tag numbers. The meeting was well attended by all kinds of folks with vested interests in the surf fishing beaches. The parks did a great job with the presentation about everything that has been going on in their 2019 surf report which I have published in this article. You can see a live video of the presentation here from our Facebook page. They did compare costs to neighboring states and we are much cheaper to surf fish. I do not have tag numbers sold for these states, I will work on that soon.
Some of the comments as usual were hilarious to the hypocritical, I did not film the comments. Well maybe the BAC for my own reference, but no one else. For the most part there was a lot of intelligent suggestions and concerns. Every community representative was there, they all said the same thing in their opening statements … “We are not affiliated in any way with the Beach Access Coalition” I was impressed with that, and they all said the same thing. It is too crowded at times but they have no issues with sharing a multi-use beach, because that is what the beaches are and have always been, surf fishing drive on beaches that are shared by all. The theme of just about all of the comments … more enforcement now!
Just to skip to the chase, it was voted unanimously by the state parks advisory board to do both, increase fees by $10 in state, $20 out-of-state, and limit tag numbers to 17,000. Volunteer Firefighter tags will still be free and it is first come first serve until 17,000 is hit.
It took about eight minutes for that to happen after an hour and forty-five minutes of presentation and comments. The comment period being the longest. Everyone wants more enforcement. Careful what you wish for and I will explain why. At some point everyone on that beach whether fishing or not is breaking some rule or another. Mostly glass bottles for the anglers, and we all know the fake fishing. I have had enforcement tell me in meetings … I could write a ticket to every person on all of the beaches on any given day … Go for it, is always my answer. Parks can not feasibly check every vehicle out there like some suggested. That would take days in some cases. 600 plus vehicles, 10 minutes to check each one is 6,000 minutes, which is 100 hours, or 4.1 days.
I was surprised at a few comments.
A bait shop owner was quoted as saying. “We knowingly sell gear and bait to people fake fishing. There needs to be more enforcement for fake fishing.” Seriously??!!
Disclaimer, not all bait shops think or do this, Lighthouse View Bait and Tackle for one, will educate their anglers, as will many others.
I found this statement to be very hypocritical. If you know you are helping create the problem of fake fishing, why would you contribute to that? Why not educate them on how to fish and catch? Maybe you could be the forefront of keeping the fake anglers off the beach you don’t want there in the first place?
Take that a step further, if you get rid of all the fake anglers, how much money are all the local bait shops going to lose in sales? I have heard this in public meetings with stakeholders a few times in the past. “We know they are buying gear for fake fishing, they even tell us, and we send them out with what they need anyway.” Then they look at the rangers in that meeting, point fingers, and say you need to increase enforcement, this is your fault (parks).
Reading between the lines one could ascertain … I will sell them the gear, then you can give them a ticket for fake fishing, but let me make some money first. That is how I interpret those statements. As I said not all shop owners do this, many will educate their customers and warn the people faking it that they could get fined. How do the shops know? The question is usually … “What do I need to drive onto the beach and be legal?”
Math on the above just for grins and giggles. Lets take an average of 6,000 “fake” anglers. Multiply by all the gear needed at around $200.00 to be legal on the beach. That is bait, rod and reel, sand spike, tire gauge, board, tow rope, jack, and a shovel. Shops would lose on a one time sale of all that gear at $1,200,000.00 bucks per season or year. Yes some shops sell all of this gear, many do not and people go to hardware stores for some components needed, locally. The bait shops would also lose the constant need of these “anglers” to buy more bait and maybe some rigs and sinkers. Take those 6,000 vehicles over the summer at 5 trips for an average (made up, it could be more, like every weekend) at $20 in bait and gear. That is $600,000 bucks lost in sales if only one person is “fishing” per vehicle. I often wonder if they aren’t losing that right now over the years as we have lost anglers to other states due to the crowds. I got the average number from the BAC saying 40% of the people out there are fake fishing and rounded down, a lot. Oh by the way, 17,000 surf anglers at the same math above … 3,400,000.00 clams just for the $200 gear deal. Weekly bait and gear for each weekend … 5,440,000.00 if based on 15 weekends. I can’t imagine the beer money either. ($340,000 for a $20 .. 30 pack, every weekend, 15 weekends is over 5 million dollars). This concerns the companies I work with that sell gear locally and in other states, they will lose money as well.
The Beach Access Coalition leader tried to explain that the beaches they want no trucks on would be open to the public, “We are not making this a private beach.”. When the crowd asked if they can come into their HOA’s, or would they leave the gates open on the weekends so people could park on their roads to walk in? “We don’t have roads (to park on), and we hardly have enough room for ourselves. It is private property” In other words … No. By the way the way the BAC has like three members at this point according to several homeowners I know. The BAC claimed there were 40% fake anglers on the beaches. I have no clue how they came up with this number.
In conclusion …
Parks will increase fees and limit tag numbers. That will start on February 1, 2019, for increased fees. I am assuming the limited tags would just stop once the parks sell 17,000 in 2019. They hit the 17,000 plus mark last year in October. According to parks source, we will probably slow it down at 800 to a 1,00 and they will only be available in certain offices or parks. We have four vendors that are not in the computer system, so we can not monitor them except by checking in weekly for their numbers sold.
My opinion, if you care for it. I don’t mind if they raise fees, it will only cost $55 to drive onto a beach to fish, the annual park pass is $35. Limited tag amounts, at 17,000 is fine, we have a finite amount of space to drive on and fish. If parks will use the money to help with enforcement and education of drive on beach users then I am good with an increase and limit.
I think it might have been a good idea for several folks to just have let the parks do this and leave well enough alone. There is a lot of money to be lost in losing anglers and even fake anglers. Just saying. Not to mention if they really increase enforcement like people want, many who do actually, actively fish could get some tickets. People will always fake fish no matter the rules or how hard they are enforced, but some will veer away from the beaches if it becomes annoying with enforcement and not go out there. There are many that feel they should be allowed to drive out there like anyone else and not fish. But that is a conversation for another day. Now I need one of those million dollah beers!