JULY 31, 2020

California State Senate Drops Sportfishing License Reform for 2020

(Sacramento, CA) – Citing the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason, the California State Senate will not hear legislation that authorizes a 365-day fishing license legislation. Assembly Bill 1387 was authored by Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) and sponsored by the California Sportfishing League (CSL).

In recent weeks it became increasingly evident that a limited legislative session meant many bills would not be heard this year unless they were deemed urgent or essential.

“California anglers have every reason to be disappointed that fishing license reform will not come in 2020. For decades, California’s costly and antiquated fishing license program has contributed to declining fishing participation rates and fewer economic benefits for communities and jobs dependent on outdoor recreation,” said Marko Mlikotin, executive director of the CSL. “States that offer anglers a license that provide a full 12-months of fishing from the date of purchase have experienced increased license sales and revenue. Unfortunately, this pandemic killed reform, but it was not due to a lack of support. Over 70 state and national organizations supported Assembly Bill 1837 and as part of plan to improve fishing and hunting licensing programs, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife recommended transitioning the state to a 365-day license.”

Assembly Bill 1387 passed the State Assembly unanimously and subject to minor amendments in the Senate, the bill was scheduled to advance later this month. Assemblyman Jim Wood intends to reintroduce the bill in the next legislative session and try to have a 365-day fishing license in effect by the original implementation date as specified in AB 1387.

Expressing optimism, Assemblyman Wood said, “I have every intention of reintroducing a 365-day fishing license bill next year that aims to introduce many more Californians to the great outdoors. I look forward to working with the California anglers and the recreational boating industry, and many others, to bring about meaningful reform and soon.”


Since 1980, annual resident sport fishing license sales have declined 55% while the state’s population has increased over 60%. While California has a population of more than 39.8 million people, one of the country’s longest coastlines, and more than 3,000 lakes and thousands of rivers and streams, it has the lowest fishing participation rate per capita in the country.

A leading contributor to declining fishing participation rates is costly fishing licenses that are not valid a full 365 days from the date of purchase. California’s calendar-based fishing licenses expire on December 31st of each year, regardless of when purchased. Because most anglers will not pay full price for a license that is not valid a full 365 days from the date of purchase, CDFW fishing license data reveals that annual license sales peak in the first quarter of the year and then decline significantly by late Spring, even as weather warms and outdoor activity increases.

List of Bill Supporters

The California Sportfishing League (CSL) is a nonprofit coalition of recreational anglers, and small business owners devoted to protecting access to recreational fishing. California’s 2.6 million recreational anglers contribute over $4.6 billion annually to California’s economy, a major contributor to outdoor tourism and jobs.

To learn more, visit www.savefishing.com or Twitter @CASportfishing

Contact: Marko Mlikotin