Mike McKenzie, plier of Delta waters for striped bass over many decades, moved on to purer waters on September 25. Striper Mike was well known as a superb striper fisherman, but fished for all kinds of fish all over California and neighboring states during his long lifetime.
Striper Mike came to fish conservation from the hands-on direction. Mike was a member of the Department of Fish and Game’s Striped Bass Stamp Fund Committee in the 90’s and early 2000’s. More recently, Mike was relentless in opposing the efforts of water agencies to weaken protections for stripers: he raised money for successful litigation that beat back an attempt to blame stripers for the decline of other fish, and he helped organize anglers in two major efforts to stop the Fish and Game Commission from weakening fishing regulations that protect stripers. Mike was a long-time supporter of CSPA, and handled membership and donations to the organization for several years.
Mike grew up in Contra Costa County during a time when there were still trout in some of the small streams in the Oakland-Berkeley hills. He loved to talk about fishing these streams as a boy, as well as about trips to Sierra trout streams.
Mike was an industrial electrician during his career and a blue collar guy in perspective and temperament. He believed in first-hand experience, he lived through a whole lot of it, and he made the most of it. Mike came from what is unfortunately becoming a passing epoch in which a blue collar guy could make a good living, buy a good boat, and have time to fish in it. And there was an awful lot of good fishing in California in the sixties and seventies.
With Mike’s death, anglers and fish lovers lose a piece of what some call institutional memory, but what is better thought of as living history. We’ll all miss him. Those of us at CSPA will all try a little harder because of him, and, if we have any sense, we’ll all fish a little bit more often.
Additional testimonials and remembrances about Mike are on Dan Blanton’s bulletin board, http://www.danblanton.com/bulletin.php