All posts by Chris Cocoles

Wildlife Conservation Board Approves $33.1 Million In Grants

The Feather River is one of several projects to be funded. (CHRIS COCOLES)

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

At a March 22 meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $33.1 million in grants for 22 projects to enhance stream flows to benefit fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. The Legislature appropriated funding for these projects as authorized by the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1). A total of $200 million was allocated to the WCB for projects that enhance stream flow.

A total of $38.4 million—including $5 million designated for scoping and scientific projects—was allocated to the WCB for expenditure in Fiscal Year 2017/18 for the California Stream Flow Enhancement Program. Projects were chosen through a competitive grant process, judged by the WCB, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the State Water Resources Control Board. Guided by the California Water Action Plan, funding is focused on projects that will lead to direct and measurable enhancements to the amount, timing and/or quality of water for anadromous fish; special status, threatened, endangered or at-risk species; or to provide resilience to climate change.

Funded projects include:

  • A $4.8 million grant to The Wildlands Conservancy for a project to enhance stream flow on Russ Creek by reestablishing channel alignment to provide continuous summer base flows suitable for fish passage. The project is located on the southern portion of the Eel River Estuary Preserve in Humboldt County, approximately four miles west of Ferndale.
  • A $693,408 grant to the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District for the purpose of dedicating a portion of the District’s diversion water rights to instream flow use that will benefit fish and wildlife by increasing habitat for salmonids and special status species in the Mad River. The project is located on the main-stem Mad River in the Mad River Watershed with releases coming from Matthews Dam at Ruth Reservoir, approximately 48 miles southeast of Eureka and 53 miles southwest of Redding.
  • A $726,374 grant to Mendocino County Resource Conservation District for a cooperative project with Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to reduce summer diversions and improve dry season stream flows for the benefit of Coho salmon and steelhead trout. The Navarro River watershed is located approximately 20 miles south of Fort Bragg.
  • A $5 million grant to the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency for a cooperative project with the Department of Water Resources and CDFW, to improve roughly 7,500 linear feet of existing channels to connect isolated ponds. This will provide fish refuge and eliminate potential stranding. This project’s design was funded by the Stream Flow Enhancement Program in 2016. The project site is within the Sacramento River watershed and is less than one mile southwest of the town of Oroville, on the east side of the Feather River.
  • $609,970 grant to the University of California Regents for a cooperative project with the University of Nevada, Reno and the Desert Research Institute, to expand monitoring, scientific studies and modeling in the Tahoe-Truckee Basin. The results will guide watershed-scale forest thinning strategies that enhance stream flow within an area that provides critical habitat for threatened species. The project is located in the central Sierra Nevada mountain range, primarily on National Forest lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin and Tahoe National Forest.
  • A $851,806 grant to the Sonoma Resource Conservation District for a cooperative project with the Coast Ridge Community Forest and 29 landowners, to install rainwater harvesting tanks and enter into agreements to refrain from diverting stream flow during dry seasons. The project area consists of 29 properties within the coastal Gualala River, Russian Gulch and Austin Creek watersheds, which discharge to the Pacific Ocean approximately 40 miles northwest of Santa Rosa.
  • Alameda Creek in the Bay Area is getting a grant to create fish ladders for salmonoids coming in from San Francisco Bay. (Mercurywoodrose/Wikimedia)

  • A $5.3 million grant to the Alameda County Water District for a cooperative project with the Alameda County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, California Natural Resources Agency, State Coastal Conservancy and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to modify flow releases in Alameda Creek and construct two concrete fish ladders around existing fish passage barriers. This will provide salmonids access to high value habitat upstream of the project location, approximately 17 miles north of San Jose and 22 miles southeast of Oakland.
  • A $3.9 million grant to The Nature Conservancy for a cooperative project with U.C. Santa Barbara and the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy to remove approximately 250 acres of the invasive giant reed (Arundo donax), which will save approximately 2,000 acre-feet of water annually for the Santa Clara River. The project is located in unincorporated Ventura County approximately two miles east of the city of Santa Paula and three miles west of the city of Fillmore, along the Santa Clara River.

Details about the California Stream Flow Enhancement Program are available on the WCB website.

California To Receive $42 Million In Federal Fish And Wildlife Funding


CDFW photo

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced allocation for states’ fish and wildlife agencies, and California will receive $42 million worth of funding.

Here’s the release from Interior:

 Allocations of the funds are authorized by Congress. To date, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has distributed more than $20.2 billion in apportionments for state conservation and recreation projects.

“American sportsmen and women are some of our best conservationists and they contribute billions of dollars toward wildlife conservation and sportsmen access every year through the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts,” said Secretary Zinke. “For nearly eighty years, states have been able to fund important conservation initiatives thanks to the more than $20 billion that has generated nationwide. Every time a firearm, fishing pole, hook, bullet, motor boat or boat fuel is sold, part of that cost goes to fund conservation. The best way to increase funding for conservation and sportsmen access is to increase the number of hunters and anglers in our woods and waters. The American conservation model has been replicated all over the world because it works.”

California’s breakdown of monies applied to the state include $16,513,733 for sportfish restoration and $26,033,993 for all wildlife funds. Texas ($52 million) and Alaska ($51 million) were the only other states to receive more allocations than the Golden State.


Bass Anglers Are Getting Cranky


The following appears in the March issue of California Sportsman: 

Story And Photos By Mark Fong 

There is no doubt that black bass love to eat crawfish, but in the spring their appetite for these little freshwater crustaceans is at an all-time high. 

Crawfish are high in protein, making them a valuable food source for bass looking to develop their eggs and build their energy stores for the rigors of the upcoming spawn.

During the days when the water is cold, crawfish begin an extended period of inactivity. In late winter, rising water temperatures not only draw crawfish out of hibernation but trigger bass to begin their prespawn activity. This dynamic makes for some excellent bass fishing action for anglers who understand and can capitalize on this relationship.

The longer days and rising water temperatures signal prespawn bass to move into the shallows. At the same time, these fish start to feed less on shad and more so on crawfish. When this occurs, there is no better lure for imitating the movements of a crawfish than a crankbait.



Every spring, bass show up in predictable locations. Points, flats and small cut areas with rock are good places to begin your search. Because the water is cold, you want to work the crankbait slowly, making every effort to crawl the lure over the rocks. Make a long cast and use a slow, steady retrieve. When it makes contact with structure, pause the bait and then start reeling again; this can be a strong triggering mechanism. 

Keep in mind that the idea is to mimic a crawfish as it scurries along the bottom. Experiment with speed and cadence until you find the most productive retrieve.


There are lots of good crankbaits on the market. On my home waters in Northern California such as Berryessa and other lakes, I have had good results with the IMA Pinjack 200. It weighs in at 7/16 ounce, making it easy to cast, and at 2¼ inches it has a nice profile that matches the crawfish found in the region’s clear-water lakes. The Pinjack runs 6 to 8 feet deep and has a nice tight wiggle. I like to throw a red- or orange/red-colored bait this time of year. The hot craw and the delta fire craw patterns work extremely well during the spring. 

I’ll throw the Pinjack on a medium-heavy-action 7-foot, 3-inch Cousins Tackle FRB 733PT Glass Rod. I’ll then match it to a low-profile casting reel spooled with 10-pound Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line.

Don’t miss the opportunity to get in on some great spring time bass fishing. Mimicking a crawfish with a crankbait is a good starting point. CS

Rain Is About To Pound The Golden State



A rainy season that hasn’t been very rainy until recently is about to end with a bang.

The storms expected to hit a wide area of the California coast is being called an “atmospheric river” in meterological terms.

Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle‘s SFGate with more:

A supercharged storm known as an “atmospheric river” is on its way to California and expected to bring a days-long deluge of rainfall along with mild temperatures.

The “pineapple express” soaker that’s carrying moisture from as far away as Hawaii  will deliver widespread rain to the Bay Area late Tuesday morning through Thursday.

The warm, wet system will keep daytime highs mild — in the 50s and 60s — and bring the heaviest rainfall to the South Bay and southward into Central California.

Monterey and Santa Cruz counties could see 2 to 5 inches of rain and the highest peaks in Big Sur more than 10 inches across the three-day period. Urban parts of the Bay Area are forecast to record about 1.5 inches.

The rain will first hit the Big Sur area early Tuesday morning and spread into the central Bay Area later in the morning, most likely in the middle of the morning commute. Rain will be widespread, heavy and steady Tuesday afternoon.

Southern Californians are also bracing for very wet weather.

Here’s the Los Angeles Daily News with what to expect:

A powerful Eastern Pacific storm system took aim at the Southland today, preceded by a subtropical plume of moisture expected to generate rain starting this afternoon and trigger flash flooding both in burn areas and far from them beginning Wednesday, forecasters said.

The Pacific storm system will be making its West Coast approach through Friday, according to a National Weather Service statement.

At the same time, “a subtropical fetch of moisture well ahead of the system is expected to bring periods of moderate to heavy rain to portions of Southwest California as early as this afternoon and continuing through late Thursday or early Friday,” it added. “The most widespread moderate to heavy rain currently looks to be focused along and ahead of a cold front pushing through the region Wednesday night into Thursday.”

The rain likely will stop late Thursday or early Friday, according to the NWS.

Total rainfall from this storm is expected to range from 2 to 5 inches in coastal and valley areas and between 5 and 10 inches across the foothills and coastal slopes, it said.




No Contest Plea Entered In Monrovia Neighborhood Deer Case

Photo by Robyn and Chuck Tapert via KTLA

Last September, a Southern California man was accused of using a bow to shoot a deer right next to a residental neighborhood in Monrovia. At the time, Michael Jackson Rodriguez proclaimed his innocence in terms of hunting amid residential homes.

Rodriguez said he shot the deer earlier that day in deer hunting Zone D-11 above Monrovia but failed to kill the animal.

“I didn’t want it to suffer any more than it had to because of my bad shot,” he said. “It moved at the exact time I fired my arrow so I didn’t hit in the kill zone. I hit it high in the back of the spine area.”

Rodriguez said the wounded deer ran off and he was able to track it to the neighborhood in Monrovia Hills.

“I wasn’t up there to shoot an animal in a residential area,” Rodriguez insisted. “I was following up a wounded animal and trying to take him out so he wasn’t suffering any more.”

But last week Rodriguez entered a no-contest plea to unlawful taking of an amimal. The L.A. Times has more:

Michael Jackson Rodriguez entered his plea Tuesday to one misdemeanor count of possessing fish or wildlife taken unlawfully, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. Under the negotiated plea deal, a judge sentenced Rodriguez to three years of summary probation and 30 days of community service.

Rodriguez must also surrender all hunting licenses and is prohibited from hunting while on probation. He also has to pay a $1,000 fine to the state Fish and Game Preservation fund and must also give up his seized property — which includes a bow, arrows and remains of the deer — to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, according to the prosecutor.

Rodriguez was accused of killing a deer with a bow and arrow in a Monrovia neighborhood on Sept. 14. It is illegal to shoot a deer or discharge a deadly weapon within 150 yards of a home.

Very Limited Ocean Salmon Season Opens On April 7

Chinook photo by CDFW

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

California’s recreational salmon fishery will open in ocean waters on Saturday, April 7 from Pigeon Point (37° 11’ 00” N. latitude) south to the U.S./Mexico border. The recreational salmon fishery will remain closed in all other areas off California during the month of April.

At its meeting this week in Rohnert Park, Calif., the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) made the decision to open only a limited section of the California coast on April 7. California’s recent drought combined with poor ocean conditions has resulted in three consecutive years of low abundance for Sacramento River fall Chinook and Klamath River fall Chinook, pushing both into “overfished” status.

“Fishing seasons are being curtailed this year in an effort to increase spawner escapement to the Sacramento and Klamath river basins in 2018,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife Environmental Scientist Kandice Morgenstern.

Where fishing is open in April, the minimum size limit is 24 inches total length. Additional season, bag/possession limit information and gear restrictions can be found on CDFW’s ocean salmon webpage at

For the first time, state ocean salmon fishing regulations will automatically conform to federal ocean salmon fishing regulations using the new process described in the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.95. In the past, the California Fish and Game Commission needed to adopt the April season recommended by the PFMC. Public notification of any in-season change to conform state regulations to federal regulations is made through the NMFS ocean salmon hotline at (800) 662-9825.

Salmon seasons beginning on or after May 1 will be decided during the April 5-11 PFMC meeting in Portland, Ore. The PFMC is considering alternatives for California’s 2018 commercial and recreational ocean salmon regulations, including season dates and size limits. The public is encouraged to comment at a hearing on Tuesday, March 27 at 7 p.m.

, at the Laurel Inn and Conference Center, 801 West Laurel Drive in Salinas. Comments can also be submitted through the PFMC website at

NOAA On Saving Winter-Run Chinook

The following  is courtesy of NOAA West Coast Fisheries:

Biologists are capitalizing on a unique opportunity this year to “jump start” the recovery of Sacramento winter-run Chinook salmon, one of the nation’s most critically endangered species.

These fish were once a thriving population running in the thousands every year from the Pacific Ocean, up the Sacramento River for hundreds of miles to cool, snow-fed streams like the Little Sacramento, McCloud and Pit Rivers, and Battle Creek.

Since the building of dams and other river impediments, the abundance of winter-run has plummeted and now the single remaining population spawns only in the Lower Sacramento River below Keswick Dam. That spawning location is far below their historic habitat in a section of river exposed to summer heat, where their survival depends on temperatures artificially controlled by cold-water releases from Shasta Dam.

Winter-run juvenile Chinook salmon being prepared for release at Coleman National Fish Hatchery on March 2. Approximately 29,000 endangered winter-run were released that morning into the North Fork of Battle Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River where they once thrived. The fish are from the Livingston Stone National Fish Hatchery captive broodstock program. Photo: Steve Martarano, USFWS


Today, Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon are listed as an endangered species under both federal and state law and were named one of NOAA Fisheries’ eight “Species in the Spotlight,” meaning they are among the nation’s most at-risk species of facing extinction and are in need of focused attention.

Fortunately, the Livingston Stone National Fish Hatchery below Shasta Dam has kept the salmon from going extinct by augmenting the wild population with offspring from the hatchery’s conservation supplementation program.

Winter-run juvenile Chinook salmon being prepared for release at Coleman National Fish Hatchery. Photo: Steve Martarano, USFWS


This year, not all of the Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon from this program were required to supplement the natural spawning population below Keswick Dam. So they will instead be reintroduced into the North Fork of Battle Creek, where they once thrived. Recovery managers hope the 200,000 juvenile fish will expand the current range of the fish and help in its recovery.

“This is our attempt to ‘jump start’ the recovery of Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon by expanding their range into a watershed that has undergone substantial habitat restoration over the past several years,” said Maria Rea, Assistant Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries Central Valley Office. “We have been preparing a comprehensive plan for reintroduction of these fish, and we are excited that this opportunity to use the 2014 cohort of captive brood stock allows us to begin implementation this year.”

Preparing the tanker truck at Coleman National Fish Hatchery. Photo: Steve Martarano, USFWS

North Fork Battle Creek is historic habitat for Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other partners have improved habitat in the creek as part of a long-term restoration project for salmon and steelhead.  Since 1999, the Battle Creek Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Project has spent over $100 million to restore approximately 48 miles of prime salmon and steelhead habitat. Crews will release the Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon into North Fork Battle Creek in groups throughout March and April.

USFWS’ Brad Carter begins releasing approximately 29,000 endangered winter-run juvenile Chinook salmon into the North Fork of Battle Creek. Photo: Laura Mahoney, USFWS


In August, after the fish hatched at the Livingston Stone Hatchery, they were immediately trucked to the Coleman National Fish Hatchery on Battle Creek so the juveniles could imprint on the smell of the waterway in preparation for their return migration in 2020.

All of the juvenile salmon will be tagged and fin clipped prior to release, allowing fish biologists to track their survival, growth and ocean distribution, as well as to detect them when they return to Battle Creek.

The successful release of these fish is the culmination of many years of planning, cooperation, and tremendous efforts in rearing the fish and in restoring their habitat. It’s also an incredible milestone toward the recovery of endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon.

“Maintaining these critically endangered fish outside of their historic range and below Shasta dam is not a sustainable strategy, especially considering the likelihood of more drought years,” said Rea. “We must work together to reintroduce these salmon to their historic habitat in Battle Creek and the McCloud River, if we are to recover them for future generations.”

READ MORE about recovering California’s salmon

Home Page photo: Laura Mahoney, USFWS

Mercury Marine To ‘Go Bold’ At Bassmaster Classic


The following press release is courtesy of Mercury:

Mercury Marine, the world leader in marine propulsion and technology, announced the launch of its Go Boldly Tour at the 2018 Bassmaster Classic, which begins today at the TD Convention Center and on Lake Hartwell. The Tour will celebrate shared enthusiasm for, and enjoyment of, the boating and fishing lifestyle by presenting participants with unforgettable experiences.


“We set out to interact with boaters and expose them to unique brand experiences,” said Michelle Dauchy, Mercury Marine chief marketing officer. “Beginning today at the Bassmaster Classic and extending throughout the year, we’ll be on the lookout for individuals who demonstrate their exuberance for boating and fishing, and we’ll surprise them with an invitation to join us for a memorable experience.”


According to Dauchy, Mercury will handpick boating and fishing enthusiasts who will receive an opportunity to participate in a unique experience as part of the Go Boldly Tour. Mercury will select these individuals based on their interactions with Mercury via social media, at Mercury exhibits and on test?ride boats demonstrating the performance of Mercury outboard engines. Throughout the year, Mercury’s test rides at boat shows and other events will include a variety of boats equipped with engines representing Mercury’s brand?new lineup of 3.4?liter V?6 outboards, which combine quick acceleration, light weight, and fuel economy.


“Boating is fun and we want to surprise and delight consumers with memorable moments that can be shared socially,” said Dauchy. “Engaging with consumers on various social networks, providing them unique experiences and then sharing those experiences on social media will help create brand advocacy and buzz around the brand.”


Individuals selected to receive a surprise reward as part of the Go Boldly Tour might receive a gift or a unique experience to enjoy individually or as part of a group. “We’re keeping the exact nature of the rewards close to the vest for now, to preserve the surprise,” Dauchy said. “The goal is to capture Mercury’s ‘Go Boldly’ spirit with experiences that are truly memorable.”


About Mercury Marine

Headquartered in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Mercury Marine is the world’s leading manufacturer of recreational marine propulsion engines. A $2.5 billion division of Brunswick Corporation (NYSE: BC), Mercury provides engines, boats, services and parts for recreational, commercial and government marine applications, empowering boaters with products that are easy-to-use, extremely reliable and backed by the most dedicated customer support in the world. Mercury’s industry-leading brand portfolio includes Mercury and Mariner outboard engines; Mercury MerCruiser sterndrive and inboard packages; MotorGuide trolling motors; Mercury propellers; Mercury inflatable boats; Mercury SmartCraft electronics; Attwood marine parts; Land ‘N’ Sea marine parts distribution; and Mercury and Quicksilver parts and oils. More information is available at

CDFW Says Many Sturgeon Fishing Report Cards Have Yet To Be Returned

CDFW Environmental Scientist Mike Harris holds a white sturgeon he just tagged in the Delta. (CDFW PHOTO)

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife: 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reminding sturgeon anglers to return their 2017 Sturgeon Fishing Report Cards as required by law. Although the deadline to report their catch was Jan. 31, 2018, so far about 13,754 – or 31 percent – of the 44,374 report cards have been returned. Sport fishing regulations require that all sturgeon anglers return their report cards, even those who did not encounter sturgeon and who did not fish for white sturgeon.

“Anglers who return their report cards are providing very good data, helping to protect the white sturgeon fishery, and helping to rebuild the populations of white sturgeon and threatened green sturgeon,” said Marty Gingras, CDFW Sturgeon Program Manager. “This is especially important given the years of drought that harmed recent sturgeon reproduction.”

California’s white sturgeon and green sturgeon are anadromous, meaning they move from the ocean or brackish water to spawn in freshwater. Because their populations were reduced by commercial fishing in the 19th century, sturgeon fisheries were mostly closed from 1901 through 1953. Since 1954, recreational fishing for white sturgeon has been allowed, and the fishery continues to be restricted in an effort to rebuild it. Green sturgeon is a federally listed threatened species and may not be fished for or harvested.

Anglers can return their overdue report cards by mail to the address printed on the card or – until April 1, 2018 — they can report online at the CDFW website at

Coyote Attack On Cal State L.A. Campus




A coyote bit a 5-year-old boy on the campus of Cal State Los Angeles, leading to a pursuit of the animal and shots fired on Thursday night. 

Here’s CBS2 in Los Angeles (which also posted the video above):

The shooting happened around 8:15 p.m., the Los Angeles Police Dept. said. LAPD is assisting in the investigation.

A 5-year-old boy who was walking on the campus with his mother was bitten by a coyote around 6:40 p.m.

A short time later, what’s believed to be the same coyote made an aggressive move towards a female student, who then reported it to police.

Officers said the coyote was hit but ran off.

The good news was the boy who was bit will be OK, but despite the mostly urban setting of the campus located near the intersection of the 710 and 10 freeways east of downtown, there could be more animals on campus.