a good story from our local paper Steve Merlo: Aqueduct fishing among many casualties of Delta Smelt issue The Bakersfield Californian | Thursday, Oct 15 2009 04:40 PM Open the newspaper, and all one reads about are the concerns for agricultural water delivery, especially down the concrete canal known as the California Aqueduct. Everyone knows that the canal remains the largest aorta in the state, feeding thirsty and extremely valuable San Joaquin Valley and Southland interests. The project, started in the late sixties, has recently been, for all purposes, shut down by extremists advocating insane and unscientific measures to protect what they feel are threatened fish species. With wholesale disregard for far more important human needs, their judicially-backed liberal agenda literally places a stranglehold on California's once-thriving but now bankrupt economy. But back in the early 1970s, when water flowed freely, fishermen discovered that the aqueduct held plenty of other riches -- piscatorial gemstones that jumped and fought with tenacity. Beneath the surface, largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish and some other unusual species began calling the canal home. Besides the usual array of warm-water gamefish, striped bass, sturgeon, salmon and even the occasional flounder found their way downstream, and anglers began picking them off at their leisure. The fishery quickly became well known and anglers trekked to the bridges and computerized gates to catch their share. Trouble was, the canal had been made off limits and illegal to fish by whatever governmental powers were in charge, seriously abusing the California State Police powers to enforce those silly "no-fishing" laws. Growing up only a few miles from the cement ditch, the lure of catching scores of monster fish in a day overcame my desire to obey a questionable law. With hundreds of other angling rebels, we became known as the "black tee shirt and tennis shoe battalion," braving a felonious fishing citation each time we climbed the fence. Fishing solely at night, anglers would play cat and mouse with the state gendarmes, running and hiding next to the rattlesnakes in the dimly lit sagebrush desert just across the fence whenever the cops showed up. Aided and abetted by moles working within the water district like the underground's grapevine system in World War II, most of us knew the exact times and locations the state gestapo agents would show up. Of course, we made the most of that information, and eventually, I think, the state people finally just threw up their hands and opened the canal to fishing. I never did meet anyone who had ever been caught by any of the inept, badge-wearing legions running up and down the canal at all hours. By the mid-70s, the aqueduct had been invaded by striped bass from the California Delta, and with all the feed available, the linesiders grew to astounding sizes. Forty- and 50-pound fish were taken regularly, and even today, a few monsters get caught each year. However, the stripers had an affinity for munching on other species, and before long, only rough fish, catfish and stripers remained, and they provide the bulk of the action today. Right now, the fishing action holds at a standstill because the pumps up north have been shut down and there has been no fishery replenishment of late. The Delta Smelt, some inoccuous little fish, holding tremendous and shocking power over humans, remains the culprit threatening to dry up California, its financial economy and a whole lot of recreational fishing. Something needs to be done, and done fast, before our state, and my old fishing hole, dry up. We are being held hostage by a fish! As Californians concerned for the welfare of all human life, we need to unite in some way to break the inane hold this creature points at our heads like a loaded pistol.