DFW’s new on-line ‘Fishing Guide’ a major ‘fail’ -- but with great potential

By JIM MATTHEWS www.OutdoorNewsService.com

Its new on-line “Fishing Guide” was announced with great fanfare by the Department of Fish and Wildlife this past week, but after pouring through it several times in recent days, it’s turned out to be a major disappointment.

Touted as a place to “help novice and experienced anglers plan successful fishing trips,” the guide is a great step in the right direction, but it falls short by not providing enough information. As it is right, now the guide provides little more than trout stocking information and very sketchy details about what fish species and facilities are present at waters throughout the state.

Using advanced mapping software, which is simple and easy to navigate, the new fishing guide only fails when it comes down to the information available to anglers once they navigate to their destination water.

For example, this is the only information provided for Castaic Lake: “Surrounded by grasslands and oak valleys in rolling hill country, this lake offers year-round fishing with many bays and coves. The lake level fluctuates a great deal. Marina, bait & tackle. Water skiing and swimming OK. Bass tournament lake.”

It doesn’t give information on the marina or the tackle shop or a telephone number or e-mail where you can contact these facilities. There are no links for fishing information or current fishing reports, no links to marina websites, no information on fees. If you want information on nearby lodging, camping, or dining, and click on those links, it simply pops you over to Google Maps -- which is not a bad thing -- and the information Google provides. (Is the DFW getting anything from Google for this service?) If you want information on boating, the link pops you over to another state page where you have to look up Castaic Lake again.

When it’s all said and done the DFW has created a framework for a potentially great on-line guide that needs a lot of filling in. In comparison, it would be like reading a newspaper with just the section headers and some categories listings (sports, obituaries, local news, columns, etc.), but without the corresponding stories on those pages or under those headings.

The DFW has had its fish planting information available on-line for a couple of years or more now, and if that is all they are planning to have on this site, this has been a colossal waste of time and money. If the DFW expands this guide so that it has detailed information on all of the waters listed, it will indeed be a great resource for anglers where they can find all the information and links they want and need in a single location.

I’m not holding my breath. Frankly, I don’t think the agency management has the interest to devote the staff time it would take to make and keep the site updated, timely, and valuable for anglers. I hope they prove me wrong.

You can visit the site at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Guide. I’d like to hear what you think, and the DFW is also asking for your comments.

Fred Hall Show back in Hall family hands

with new partner, Duncan McIntosh Co.

Arguably the most-attended fishing shows in the entire West, the Fred Hall Shows are back in family ownership -- and there is a new partner, Duncan McIntosh. Sportsmen who attend the shows probably won’t notice a difference.

The Hall Shows were started 70 years ago by the late Bart Hall and have been held continuously ever since. While they have always been managed and operated by the Hall family, with Bart Hall taking over the helm after his father Bart passed away, the shows were sold to the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) in 1999.

McIntosh is a well-known publisher based in San Diego and the producer of two of the West’s largest on-the-water boat shows, The Newport Boat Show and The Lido Yacht Expo. He joined with new partners Bart Hall and Bart’s son Travis to purchase the shows back from the American Sportfishing Association under a newly-formed company called Fred Hall Shows, Inc.

While the shows are changing hands, "it's business as usual," said Duncan McIntosh, the new company president. "The show's team remains in place. Our goal is to make the change a non-event as we prepare for our version of March madness."

"This represents a great opportunity for us to bring the ownership and management of these events back to the West Coast where it all began 70 years ago," McIntosh said. "It's also our goal that substantial ownership of the Fred Hall Shows be returned to the Hall family."

"This means a great deal to me," said Bart Hall. "Having the Hall family again involved in an ownership position in the Fred Hall Shows means that we can begin to provide a foundation for the next 70 years of these world class events."

The 2015 Fred Hall Shows will be held March 4-8 in the Long Beach Convention Center and March 26-28 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

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