Category Archives: Editor’s Blog

Drought Conditions Prompt CDFW To Act

Some substantial rain finally seems headed this week to Sacramento, where the California Department of Fish and Wildlife offices are located. But it’s just not enough right now, and the entire state is gasping for more water. CDFW issued this press release and announced the closures of several waterways to fishing:

JANUARY 29, 2014 BY 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has closed some waters to fishing in order to protect native salmon and steelhead from low water flows in California streams and rivers that have been significantly impacted by drought. CDFW is also recommending that the Fish and Game Commission adopt emergency regulations on other rivers.

“We fully understand the impact these closures will have on California anglers and the businesses related to fishing in California, and we really feel for them,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “However the science is clear. Two-thirds of the wettest part of winter is now behind us and conditions are looking increasingly grim. Under these extreme drought conditions, it is prudent to conserve and protect as many adult fish as possible to help ensure the future of fishing in California.”

CDFW has the authority under Title 14, Article 4, Section 8.00(c) to close south central coast streams to fishing from December 1 through March 7 when it determines that stream flows are inadequate to provide fish passage for migrating steelhead trout and salmon. As a result, the following streams are closed to all fishing until stream flows are sufficient to allow fish passage for returning adult steelhead and salmon (CDFW will announce any lifting of the closures):

  1. Pescadero Creek and all anadromous reaches of San Mateo County coastal streams normally open for fishing, from Elliot Creek through Milagro Creek.
  2. The San Lorenzo River and all its tributaries, as well as all anadromous reaches of coastal streams normally open for fishing in Santa Cruz County from the San Lorenzo River on North through Waddell Creek.
  3. Aptos and Soquel Creeks (Santa Cruz County).
  4. The Pajaro River and Uvas, Llagas and Corralitos Creeks (Santa Cruz, Monterey and Santa Clara counties).
  5. The Carmel River and those sections of San Jose, Gibson, Malpaso and Soberanes creeks west of Highway 1.
  6. The Big Sur River and those Big Sur area streams from Granite Creek to Salmon Creek west of Highway 1.
  7. The main stem of the Salinas River below its confluence with the Arroyo Seco River and the Arroyo Seco River (Monterey County).

In addition, CDFW has the authority under Title 14, Article 4, Section 8.00(a) to close north coast streams to fishing from September 1 (Mad River) and October 1 (all others) through January 31 when it determines that the flow at any of the designated gauging stations is less than minimum flows stated in regulation. As a result, the following streams are subject to low flow closures through January 31 (however, CDFW is requesting this be extended to April 30 as noted in the recommendations to the Fish and Game Commission below, recommendation #3):

  1. The main stem Eel River from the paved junction of Fulmor Road with the Eel River to the South Fork Eel River.
  2. The South Fork of the Eel River downstream from Rattlesnake Creek and the Middle Fork Eel River downstream from the Bar Creek.
  3. The main stem Van Duzen River from its junction with the Eel River to the end of Golden Gate Drive near Bridgeville.
  4. The main stem Mad River from the Hammond Trail Railroad Trestle to Cowan Creek.
  5. The main stem of the Mattole River from the mouth to Honeydew Creek.
  6. The main stem of Redwood Creek from the mouth to its confluence with Bond Creek.
  7. The main stem Smith River from the mouth of Rowdy Creek to the mouth of Patrick Creek (tributary of the Middle Fork Smith River); the South Fork Smith River from the mouth upstream approximately 1,000 feet to the County Road (George Tyron) bridge and Craig’s Creek to its confluence with Jones Creek; and the North Fork Smith River from the mouth to its confluence with Stony Creek.

Further, CDFW is recommending that the Fish and Game Commission adopt the following emergency regulations at its February 5, 2014 meeting:

  1. Closure of the American River from Nimbus Dam to the SMUD power line crossing at the southwest boundary of Ancil Hoffman Park until April 30.
  2. Closure of the Russian River main stem below the confluence of the East Branch of the Russian River until April 30.
  3. Extension of the low flow restrictions angling closures for the north coast and central coast areas (above San Francisco Bay) through April 30.
  4. Close all portions of any coastal stream west of any Highway 1 bridge until April 30.

There are still plenty of opportunities for California anglers to catch fish in the state’s rivers and streams outside of the closures listed above. Additionally, California’s coast offers substantial ocean fishing. Both are subject to current regulations already in place. For more on fishing in California, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/fishing/.

Current low stream flow conditions will prevent the movement of migrating anadromous fish, primarily wild steelhead trout. Stream flows in many systems are inadequate to allow passage of spawning adults, increasing their vulnerability to mortality from predation, physiological stress and angling. Furthermore, survival of eggs and juvenile fish in these systems over the coming months is likely to be extremely low if the current drought conditions continue. These temporary angling closures on selected streams will increase survival of adult wild steelhead.

Yesterday CAL FIRE announced it hired 125 additional firefighters to help address the increased fire threat due to drought conditions, and the California Department of Public Health identified communities at risk of severe water shortages and announced efforts to assist those communities. Earlier this week, the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Food and Agriculture released the California Water Action Plan, which will guide state efforts to enhance water supply reliability, restore damaged and destroyed ecosystems and improve the resilience of our infrastructure. Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce their water usage by 20 percent and last week, the Save Our Water campaign announced four new public service announcements that encourage residents to conserve. Last December, the Governor formed a Drought Task Force to review expected water allocations and California’s preparedness for water scarcity. In May 2013, Governor Brown issued an Executive Order to direct state water officials to expedite the review and processing of voluntary transfers of water and water rights.

CDFW low flow closure hotlines:

North coast: (707) 822-3164
Central coast: (707) 944-5533
South central coast: (831) 649-2886

Media Contacts:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

 

California’s Elk Getting A Helping Hand

From the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation 

 
 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 29, 2014

 

MEDIA NOTE: For a high-resolution photo or more information, contact Mark Holyoak, RMEF, 406-523-3481 or mholyoak@rmef.org. This news release is also posted here.

 
 
California’s Elk Country, Hunting Heritage Gets Help from RMEF Grants
 
MISSOULA, Mont.–Grants provided by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for the state of California will ensure the future of elk and elk habitat by improving forage, helping restore aspen stands and riparian areas, applying noxious weed treatments, capturing and relocating elk, and also provide funding for other conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects.

RMEF’s grants awarded in 2013 for California total $285,595 and positively affect 6,591 acres in 14 counties: Amador, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Shasta, Siskiyou, Merced, Modoc, Monterey, Placer, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Tuolumne. An additional project has statewide interest.

“These grants will help fund 10 different habitat enhancement projects that will provide a better supply of forage and water for elk,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “They also offer funding for 14 different projects promoting our hunting tradition and heritage such as youth camps, hunting and fishing outings, and shooting clubs and competitions.”

Since 1990, RMEF and its partners completed 488 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects with a combined value more than $38.7 million.

“We have more than 12,000 members in California. We thank them and our dedicated volunteers who generated the funding for these projects through banquet fundraising and membership drives. They are truly making a difference for elk and elk habitat in their own backyard,” added Allen.

Allen also thanked RMEF chapters and volunteers around the nation for their dedication to conservation all across elk country.

RMEF grants will help fund the following projects, listed by county:

Calaveras County—Provide funding for the Gold Country Shooters Trap Team in Sloughhouse so boys and girls in grades 4-12 who would not be able to participate can do so to learn about gun safety, skill development, sportsmanship, individual responsibility, self-discipline, positive academic progress and personnel commitment (also affects Amador County).

Contra Costa County—Provide funding for the De La Salle Trap Shooting Team to assist boys and girls in grades 9-12 as they learn gun safety, skill development, teamwork and other positive benefits.

Colusa County—Provide RMEF volunteer manpower to fill in erosion area with boulders and fiber material as a means to shore up riparian habitat in Upper Craig Canyon of the Cache Creek Natural Area.

Del Norte County—Thin, hand-pile, prune and burn encroaching conifers and brush on 38 acres of meadow habitat inside a 750-acre project area within the Smith River National Recreation Area to improve habitat for elk.

Mendocino County—Enhance 104 acres with prescribed burning followed by hand-pulling of invasive plants to improve forage on coastal prairie habitat at Sinkyone Wilderness State Park.

Merced County—Mow 10 acres, apply herbicides on 200 acres, burn 200 acres and plant 50 acres with native seed and grass plugs to restore areas invaded by invasive weeds within the 760-acre Tule elk enclosure on the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge (NWR); and provide funding to help capture and relocate 30 Tule elk from the San Luis NWR to other locations in the state to bring this herd to population objective and genetically benefit the receiving elk herds.

Modoc County—Burn 1,000 acres of previously thinned units to revitalize shrubs, reduce encroaching young pine, cedar, fir and juniper as well as increase forage and encourage black oak production on year-round elk habitat within the Washington Mountain area on the Modoc National Forest approximately six miles north of Canby; and burn 599 acres on Bureau of Land Management land to remove juniper that invaded aspen stands, sagebrush and bitterbrush communities to improve early seral bunchgrass habitat near the Surprise Valley.

Monterey County—Treat 2,000 acres of noxious weeds to re-establish vegetation for Tule elk and other wildlife at Fort Hunter Liggett Military Reservation; provide sponsorship of the 11th annual Youth Trout Fishing Derby that drew 315 youth and their families to Fort Hunter Liggett by helping stock Del Venturi Reservoir with 2,100 pounds of fish, purchasing fishing poles for the first 200 children and offering a free barbeque lunch; and provide RMEF volunteer manpower to remove barbed wire fence from the military base to benefit a Tule elk herd numbering 500-600.

Placer County—Provide funding for the Granite Bay High School Trap Team which had its most successful season to date competing with other high schools and clubs throughout California; provide funding for the Roseville High School Trap Team which off-set the cost of competition fees for its 35-50 students; and provide funding to purchase equipment and ammunition for the Colfax High School Trap Team so students can experience personal growth, gun safety and responsibility, self-confidence and team participation skills.

San Luis Obispo County—Host annual Chimineas Ranch Junior Elk Hunt for first time youth elk hunter and family. RMEF volunteers guide the hunt, prepare meals and provide transportation.

Santa Barbara County—Provide funding for the Debra Takayama Memorial Junior Pheasant Hunt that offers education and instruction for youth about hunter safety, wildlife law enforcement, wildlife management, shooting skills and the techniques of pheasant hunting as well as a pheasant hunt itself in Santa Barbara.

Shasta County—Restore 1,200 acres of aspen and wet meadow habitat on private lands approximately 10 miles south of Burney to improve forage for deer, elk and other wildlife; provide funding for local RMEF chapter to host up to 40 kids at a hunter safety class in Fall River; and provide funding for the Anderson Union High School shooting range so the ammunition is at no cost to students.

Siskiyou County—Restore 14 meadow openings on 160 acres of the Klamath National Forest by chainsaw thinning of encroaching conifers to improve forage for Roosevelt elk, also making existing water source more accessible; reconstruct, enlarge and seal a three-acre pond to be used as a dependable wildlife water source on private land important to California’s Roosevelt elk herd; and mechanical treatment of young juniper to be chipped and sold for biomass to restore sagebrush steppe habitat on 500 acres of BLM land three miles southeast of Dorris as part of a 3,000 acre project covering 3-5 years.

Tuolumne County—Provide funding for the Mother Lode Gun Club Junior Trap Team in Jamestown so pre-high school members can afford to learn safe firearms skills and participate in competitions.; and provide funding to purchase ammunition for the Sonora High School Trap Club so members can learn gun safety, skill development, self-confidence and teamwork.

Statewide—Provide funding for the California Council of Land Trusts, which is influential with matters of legislation and moneys available for land conservation projects, both conservation easements and acquisitions. Conservation projects are selected for grants using science-based criteria and a committee of RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies and universities. RMEF volunteers and staff select hunting heritage projects to be funded. Partners for 2013 projects in California include the Klamath, Modoc and Six Rivers National Forests, as well as the Bureau of Land Management, San Luis National Wildlife Refuge, Fort Hunter Liggett Military Reservation, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, private landowners, and other agencies, businesses, organizations and foundations.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
RMEF is a leading conservation organization that protected or enhanced habitat on more than 6.4 million acres—an area larger than Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Yosemite, Rocky Mountain and Great Smoky Mountains national parks combined. RMEF also is a strong voice for hunters in access, wildlife management and conservation policy issues. RMEF members, partners and volunteers, working together as Team Elk, are making a difference all across elk country. Join us at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.

If you no longer wish to receive releases from “Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation” please reply to this email address with “remove.”

Kevin Harvick: NASCAR’s Bakersfield Speedster

Kevin Harvick with his new Jimmy John's Chevrolet he'll drive for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014

Kevin Harvick with his new Jimmy John’s Chevrolet he’ll drive for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014

 

 

cal-sportsman-cover

By Chris Cocoles

Kevin Harvick is not the only Bakersfield native to make it big in a race car. Rick Mears won four Indianapolis 500’s in an iconic career in open wheel racing. Harvick went the stock car route, and the 38-year-old has become one of the elite drivers in the Sprint Cup series. Harvick moves over from Richard Childress Racing to Stewart-Haas Racing on the cusp of competing for his first Sprint Cup championship (he’s finished third in the final standings for three of the last four years). Harvick is a dedicated hunter who has partnered with outdoor organizations like Realtree and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation during his career. He is the subject of our February cover story and dished about his first hunting experience, his infant son and the late legend Dale Earnhardt, whom Harvick stepped in for after Earnhardt’s tragic death at the 2001 Daytona 500. Here’s our 2014 Q&A with Harvick:

CALIFORNIA SPORTSMAN Growing up in Bakersfield, were you always interested in being in the outdoors, or was that something that you became more interested in later on?
KEVIN HARVICK That was something that grew on me when I was older. In California, we would go out in the fields and hunt birds, squirrels and things like that when I was younger. But the more broad-based (types) of hunting animals came later in life.

CS Can you share one of your early hunting memories?
KH It probably came in California; we were out dove hunting and hanging out with my buddies. That always fun, just to hang out and shoot birds.

CS Obviously, being based in North Carolina and traveling to NASCAR tracks for 10 months a year, are you able to find a lot of time to hunt?
KH Not as much as I would like to. Obviously, being outdoors is something that I enjoy and have a lot of fun doing. But our schedule, and my son have definitely cut into my hunting time.

CS Where is your go-to hunting spot? Do you have a place you flock to when you have down time?
KH I don’t really have a go-to spot.(Pauses) Well, I’d say that’s not so true. I’d say my go-to spot is Realtree Farms.

CS Where is that?
KH It depends on which side of the state line you’re standing on (laughs). It’s mostly in Georgia.

CS Talk a little bit about the Kevin Harvick Foundation and what that means to you helping the community.
KH Oh, it’s so great to be able to do that and give back. We spend a lot of time in my hometown of Bakersfield and do a lot around our house in North Carolina in the Triad area (Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point). It’s fun to be able to give back and remember a lot of the people at home who progressed me in my career, Seeing them involved in the activities that we do in the community and allowing the opportunity to give back. We’re just trying to change the direction of kids’ lives; it’s fun for us and we’re glad to be a part of it.

CS You’ve also partnered up with a lot of hunting-related sponsors over the years like Realtree and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Does that mean a lot to you given your love for the outdoors?
KH I’m a lifetime member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and Realtree was the first sponsor that I ever had at (Richard Childress Racing) when I ran an ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America) race at Talladega. I’ve become good friends with (Realtree found) Bill Jordan. I’ve been a part of the Realtree family now for a long, long time. And Bill is the one person who really progressed my hunting career and exposed me to things I’ve never been exposed to before on that side of it. He really helped me to learn how to enjoy the outdoors.

CS You’re joining Stewart-Haas Racing this season. Who is the better outdoorsman between you and your new teammate/boss, Tony Stewart?
KH (Laughs) Probably (Stewart), because he’s the single man who gets to spend more time outdoors. So I’d have to give that title to him on that one.

CS Are there fellow drivers you spend a lot of time hunting with?
KH You know, not as much I as used to. Just for the fact that we’ve been in a transition year of switching teams, and my son has been so young (and takes away from my time). But we go on different hunts with Bill Jordan and the guys from Realtree and just a lot of different people and different hunts. Someone new usually shows up on the next hunt.

CS For a long time driving for Richard Childress Racing, you kind of carried on the late legend Dale Earnhardt’s memory and legacy for the team. Besides being one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history, Dale was also an avid outdoorsman. Do you have any memories of joining him on outdoor adventures?
KH I never had the chance to go with him on any outdoor trips, but Dale did give me first gun I guess in about 1997. (fellow driver) Ron Hornaday and I decided that we wanted to learn how to shoot skeet. But we didn’t have a gun. So we walked into Dale’s office, and he looked over his glasses over the mess on his desk and said, “What do you two idiots want?” We told him what we wanted to do and he went through this line of grief that he wanted to give us. He then proceeded to walk down the stairs and handed us each a shotgun and sent us out with an instructor, as he would say it, “To keep us from shooting our feet off.”

CS You are obviously in a high-intensity sport with a grueling schedule and a lot of traveling for 10 months of the year. Does being outdoors in nature give you some solace from that hectic lifestyle?
KH Well, I just love to be outside, which is a 180 from what we normally do on a day-to-day basis with the pace of things that we do. So it’s nice to be outside and listen to the peace of the outdoors. Something like that is always good for your mind.

CS Do you already plan to introduce your son, Keelan, to the great outdoors?
KH He loves to be outside already, so that won’t be very hard to do.

CS You’ve been knocking at the door in terms of winning a Sprint Cup points championship with a trio of third-place finishes since 2010. Does that give you a lot of confidence going forward with this transition to Stewart-Haas Racing?
KH Well, I feel confident in my ability to be able to drive the car. I know that everyone around me feels confident in what they can do. And I think we all came here for the same reason, and that was to win races and compete for a championship. I think that’s what everybody’s goals are. There will be some hurdles that would happen on any team no matter how long it’s along. So if we’re learning how to navigate those hurdles, everything else will hopefully come together really well.

CS You’re a pretty big-time golfer, too. What part of your game are you most happy with, and where do you hope to get better?
KH On July 8, 2012 my golf game took a serious blow, as on that day my son came into the world. My game wasn’t very good to start with. Golf is a lot like hunting: I enjoy being outside and playing the game. But I don’t really have the time to focus on it. But I love it, and all aspects of golf need attention in my game. But probably the best part of my game, which still isn’t very good, is my driver.

CS Back to hunting, do you have a must do/must go on places/species you’d like to hunt someday?
KH I don’t really have a bucket list to say the least, just for the fact it’s really something I more casually do. It’s not a 100 percent passion I guess you’d say. It’s not something that I have do. I just enjoy being a part of hunting.

CS You’re known as an aggressive and proactive driver. Do you take that same approach on a hunt in terms of strategy in stalking?
KH I don’t take anything aggressively on a hunt, because it’s a rare time to relax. And I kind of treat it more of a time to take it easy more than anything. But you can’t rush anything when you’re hunting. You have to let it all come to you, so you to be patient, which is hard for me to do.

 

Wrapping Up The Waterfowl Season

Most of California’s zones wrapped up the waterfowl hunting season on Sunday. Here’s a final report and some pics from Northern California guide Scott Feist of Feisty Fish Guide Service.

I was sitting there this morning in my duck blind on this last day of the season and can’t help but to think how lucky I am! I want to personally thank everyone that came out to hunt and support me! We had to work hard this year, but it was worth every minute. I am picking up decoys this upcoming week then switching gears to chasing Delta Stripers! I am now booking striped bass fishing in the Delta for March and April and May in the rivers… Pick prime dates and tides now! To many more memories, your guide…

Captain Feisty

Office (530) 923-2634 • Cell (530) 822-6314• Email

Follow me on Facebook for daily updates @ www.facebook.com/FeistyFishGuideService

Photos courtesy of Scott Feist/Feisty Fish Guide Service  

Collins Lake Update

Our friends at Collins Lake provided this fishing update on this Sierra foothills lake near Yuba City.

* 1/13/14  COLLINS LAKE FISHING REPORT*

*www.collinslake.com <http://www.collinslake.com/> 1-(800) 286-0576*

*COLLINS** LAKE** BOAT LAUNCH IS—–( OPEN)*

Any day now we will get a double trout plant of (larger than normal) sized trout from Fish & Game. The lake is still at it’s winter low so catching these fish will be a breeze!! You may have to walk a little farther but we’ll make sure it’s worth it and the weather is expected to be close to 70 degrees for a high all week long. This should coax a few campers out, especially from Nevada!

Collins Lake 2

The New Year brought some nice catches starting with Chase Knieriem of Granite Bay. Chase hooked the biggest trout that week, a 4-pound, 8-ounce rainbow right off the sand beach using peach Powerbait.

Collins Lake 3

Haley Rodriguez from Citrus Heights came in second with a 2-pound, 8-ounce. trout. Haley was in a boat trolling in front of the beach using worms.

Collins Lake 1

A 10-trout stringer went home with the Soucy boys and the Blaton boys! They fished the shallow water by the bridge and they fished with Powerbait.

Collins Lake 4

Richard, Cheyenne, & Melly fished in front of their campsite right below the store and caught four trout also using Powerbait.

By Kathy Hess

More Drought Issues For Valley Anglers

By Chris Cocoles

I’m heading to the Bay Area this weekend to visit my family, and in talking to a few friends and family this week, they said don’t expect to enter Seattle-like conditions (as in rain and more rain). Actually, the forecast is for possible showers on Saturday, but that won’t help California’s growing drough crisis.

The Sacramento Bee reported the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is being urged by Sierra Salmon Alliance  to shut down the American River to fishing in an attempt to  lower the fishing pressure on steelhead and salmon as the lack of rain continues to keep river levels at historic lows.

Here’s a small sample of Matt Weiser’s report in the Bee:

Salmon season has ended, but steelhead fishing is normally allowed year-round.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation this week is in the midst of curtailing water releases into the river from Folsom Dam, partly to preserve drinking water for suburban Sacramento communities. Flows in the river are expected to fall by Friday to 500 cubic feet per second, a level not seen since 1993.
A fishing closure has happened before on the American River, notably during the 1977 drought. It would have to be ordered by the California Fish and Game Commission following a recommendation from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Jordan Traverso, spokeswoman for the department, said it has no recommendation yet.
“We have a great number of people looking at this from a number of different angles, and it’s not just the American,” she said.

Here is a statement from Sierra Salmon Alliance on the hopes to shut down the American to anglers.

I remember leaving my Bay Area home for college in Fresno 1989 when California was in the throngs of a five-year drought period. But this is looking like an even worse stretch for the Golden State.

 

Huge SARL Rainbow

Craig 1

Orange County angler Craig Adkinson, who was featured in the December issue of California Sportsman for float tubing Southern California lakes and saltwater bays, is having a good trout season thus far. Adkinson caught what was believed to be the largest trout caught in California thus far. The fish, caught at Santa Ana River Lakes weighed in at 20 pounds, 3 ounces. Adkinson used just 2-pound test line (Izorline XXX) and the new Phenix Dragonfly trout rod. For bait, Adkinson threw out chartreuse PowerBait with glitter combined with salmon beach PowerBait combined into a square. He also had a Trout King worm dipped in Bite-On garlic fish attractant. Great job, Craig!

Craig 2

Craig 3

 

Salmon Loss Likely Unless Coleman Hatchery Fish Are Moved to Better Release Locations

The Golden Gate Salmon Association (goldengatesalmonassociation.com) released this report today on the concern of juvenile salmon surviving in the upper Sacramento River, which like many bodies of water in California are being devastated by the Golden State’s growing drought issues.

Salmon

 Contact:  Michael Coats, 707-935-6203

San Francisco  –  The Golden Gate Salmon Association renewed its call on federal fish hatchery managers to avoid disaster by helping juvenile hatchery salmon survive release into the drought-stricken upper Sacramento River.  Late-fall baby king salmon are scheduled to be released at the Coleman fish hatchery on Battle Creek within two weeks.  Battle Creek is a tributary of the upper Sacramento River between Redding and Red Bluff.  In 2007, a similar low water year, thirty-seven percent of tagged juvenile salmon released at the Coleman Hatchery were lost in the eight miles of Battle Creek between the hatchery and the Sacramento River.  More than 50 percent of tagged baby Coleman salmon perished in the first 50 miles below the hatchery according to a migration study released in 2010.

“Baby salmon become easy pickings for many bird species in low, clear, drought-stricken waters like we have now,” said John McManus, Executive Director of GGSA.  “Predatory fish also have a field day on them so it’s important to give the baby salmon half a chance by at least releasing them a short distance downstream where the Sacramento River is deeper and wider to give them refuge and hiding places.”

“As a scientist, I can tell you the chances of survival of these hatchery fish are low and the adverse impacts on wild fish are high unless they are released at least part way down the Sacramento River,” said salmon scientist Dave Vogel.

Late-fall king salmon, although juvenile, are relatively large, having been reared in captivity for nearly a year before release into the wild.  If released into the drought-stricken upper river, they will undoubtedly attack recently emerging wild winter, spring and fall-run fry.

Because of drought, most wild juvenile salmon, including federally protected winter and spring run, are still rearing in the upper river waiting for rain runoff to aid their downstream migration.  Releasing 750,000 large, hatchery late-fall-run Chinook into the heart of the rearing grounds will result in predation and competition with the wild fish, including the threatened and endangered species.  Releasing the fish farther downstream to the area of Hamilton City would alleviate those problems for the wild fish. Coleman hatchery already moves and releases their juvenile steelhead downstream to minimize those problems.

Even if it rains between now and mid-January, the first few storms are unlikely to result in significant runoff, so the need to release the fish downstream of the hatchery will likely remain.

The Sacramento River wild and hatchery-bred late-fall run salmon have steadily declined in recent years, hitting a dangerous low of 5,716 fish in 2012.  Without a turn around, these fish could be candidates for a listing under the Endangered Species Act.  A listing would create havoc in the salmon industry and also in water deliveries to agriculture and population centers.

Testing new release locations potentially offers substantial population increases while greatly minimizing adult straying. The Mokelumne and Feather River hatcheries have been very successful in implementing these practices and now contribute over 80 percent of the Central Valley hatchery salmon in the ocean.

In the US Fish and Wildlife Service press release of January 3rd, the agency points to the dismal return rates of Coleman salmon trucked to San Francisco Bay in 2007 and 2008 as a reason not to change release locations.  Use of experimental release locations much closer to the hatchery should address this problem while greatly improving survival.

Roger Thomas, chairman of the Golden Gate Salmon Association said, “For decades the Coleman hatchery was the leader in supporting the salmon industry by filling the ocean with fish.  In the current rankings of hatchery production it has now slipped to almost last.  GGSA and the salmon industry strongly support studies of better Coleman release locations to increase production while minimizing straying.  The future of our industry is very much at stake in these considerations.”

Golden Gate Salmon Association (www.goldengatesalmonassociation.org) is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fisherman, businesses, restaurants, an Indian tribe, environmentalists, elected officials, families and communities that rely on salmon. GGSA’s mission is to protect and restore California’s largest salmon producing habitat comprised of the Central Valley river’s that feed the Bay-Delta ecosystem and the communities that rely on salmon as a long-term, sustainable, commercial, recreational and cultural resource.

Currently, California’s salmon industry is valued at $1.4 billion in economic activity annually and about half that much in economic activity and jobs again in Oregon. The industry employs tens of thousands of people from Santa Barbara to northern Oregon. This is a huge economic bloc made up of commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen (fresh and salt water), fish processors, marinas, coastal communities, equipment manufacturers, the hotel and food industry, tribes, and the salmon fishing industry at large.

Lake Piru’s Mussel Problems

Lake Piru, a popular Ventura County fishing and boating area just west of Castaic near the Los Angeles County border, was recently found to have invasive dreissenid mussels in its water. The big concern with these non-native freshwater mussels is their attaching themselves to boats used at Piru. Here’s part of the report:

On Dec. 18, Lake Piru Recreation Area staff reported the discovery of potential quagga mussels to CDFW. The mussels were found attached to a Lake Piru patrol boat and several additional mussels were subsequently found on devices deployed in the lake for the purpose of detecting mussels and on the shoreline.

 CDFW staff tentatively identified the mussels, which range in size from one-half to three-quarter inches long, as quagga. Genetic testing is under way to confirm this identification. Lake Piru Recreation Area staff are working to determine the full extent of the infestation.

Lake Piru, which is managed by United Water Conservation District, is located downstream of Pyramid Lake. Lake Piru drains into Lower Piru Creek, a tributary of the Santa Clara River.

 Quagga and zebra mussels, non-native freshwater mussels native to Eurasia, multiply quickly and encrust watercraft and infrastructure, and compete for food with native and sport fish species.

These mussels can be spread from one body of water to another attached to nearly anything that has been in an infested waterbody, or via standing water from an infested waterbody entrapped in boat engines, bilges, live-wells and buckets. People who launch vessels at any body of water are subject to watercraft inspections and are encouraged to clean, drain and dry their motorized and non-motorized boats, including personal watercraft, and any equipment that comes into contact with the water before and after recreating at a waterway.