Category Archives: Editor’s Blog

Fall Fishing Frenzy At Lake Jennings

The following report is courtesy of Lake Jennings: 

  • Bass seem to be everywhere! Fishermen reeled in some bass near the boat dock on garlic nightcrawlers. Others were productive in Shadow Cove using shiners and on the shoreline over in Cloister Cove. Try your luck using senkos, rapala lures and worms.
  • Bluegill are biting in the reeds near Eagle Point. Half Moon Cove was a popular spot too. Anglers caught some redear sunfish and crappie on cut nightcrawlers near the T-dock.
  • The catfish were hanging out in Hermit Cove and Cloister Cove biting on chicken livers.
  • Do you miss Night Fishing season? Not to worry! New Moon Fishing is on Saturday, October 6th from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Remember full-sized lanterns are required after 6:00 p.m.
  • Lake Jennings has Active Duty Military pricing for fishing permits, boat, kayak and paddle boat rentals. Bring your family and friends for some lake time! Just show your ID at the register to receive a discounted rate!
  • If you’re looking for some thrills for Halloween, come camp with us for some fun and spooky activities at the campground! Spooky Camp-o-Ween will be held two weekends this year. First weekend is Friday, 10/19 to Sunday, 10/21 and Second weekend is Friday, 10/26 to Sunday, 10/28.  There will be ghost stories with s’mores, campsite trick-or-treating, and campsite decorating contests! The Grand Prize is a full camping weekend, family of four fishing permits and boat rental!
    Make your camping reservations today at www.lakejennings.org or call (619) 390-1623.
  • Long term campsites are now available through March 2019 for the Winter season. Campers can stay up to 6 30-night periods for a  discounted rate. We have full and partial hookups available and some even have views of the lake! If you would like to know more about long term availability or have questions, please call (619) 390-1623.
  • Lake Jennings is a drinking water reservoir and remember, no body contact is permitted.

Celebrate National Hunting And Fishing Day Saturday

CDFW photo

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

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, by recognizing the longstanding commitment to wildlife conservation from hunters and anglers and the abundant fishing and hunting opportunities available in the state.

Unfortunately, participation in hunting and fishing has been steadily declining in California and nationally since the 1980s. The decline in these activities poses an ever-increasing threat to conservation of our natural resources. CDFW is ramping up statewide efforts to improve recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) of hunters and anglers to curb this threat. Currently the project is in the planning stage with implementation planned for early next year. If you aren’t an active California hunting or fishing license holder, consider helping by signing up to take a hunter education course, visit the CDFW website to learn more about participating in fishing and hunting opportunities, or reach out to your local CDFW office to seek guidance on getting started.

Last year, California’s hunter and anglers generated more than $125 million to support fish and wildlife conservation efforts. By participating in hunting and fishing, Californians have the ability to help keep the American legacy of public land conservation alive and fund the ever-growing need to manage our wildlands and wildlife in the face of human encroachment and urbanization, wildlife diseases, a changing climate and other challenges.

California is the third largest state in the nation and about half of its land is publicly owned. That translates into millions of acres of excellent outdoor recreation spaces across the state. Many hunting and fishing seasons are currently open and provide opportunity to acquire wild, lean, antibiotic-free protein sources such as trout and other fish, deer, bear, dove, tree squirrel, rabbit and hare, and other upland game.

“In an era where so many competing interests exist for our time, Californians are losing their connection to the outdoors. Kids are spending less time playing outside, families aren’t hunting and fishing like they used to, and connections to public land are diminishing,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “CDFW encourages all Californians to help reverse this trend by getting outdoors on National Hunting and Fishing Day.”

For more information on hunting and fishing opportunities in the Golden State, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov. For information on Hunter’s Education, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunter-education. For information on how to purchase a hunting or fishing license, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/online-sales. For more information on National Hunting and Fishing Day, please visit www.nhfday.org.

The Highs And Lows Of An Iconic NorCal River

Jason Hartwick/A River’s Last Chance

The following appears in the September issue of California Sportsman:

By Chris Cocoles 

Photos By Jason Hartwick/A River’s Last Chance

The rivers around Shane Anderson’s boyhood and current home of Olympia, Washington, are well known for either their beauty or magnificent runs of salmon and steelhead, or both. 

But it was time studying at Humboldt State University and fishing the North Coast’s rivers that had a far more profound impact, none more than the Eel. 

“It’s a river that changed my life. I’m indebted to it,” he admits. 

So much so that Anderson, a fisheries biologist major turned filmmaker, paid homage to the Eel in his documentary, A River’s Last Chance, an historic biography of an important Northern California river and the people who depend on and/or adore it. The story plays out like a Greek tragedy but with a – presumably, conservationists hope – happy ending for the watershed that once was the lifeblood of Native tribes, commercial and sport fishers, loggers and pot growers. 

The river and its fauna have taken more punches than a tomato can boxer, whether the knockdowns were via man-made or natural causes.  

“It was always an extremely productive and abundant place prior to the arrival of the colonial world; just so productive on its own before we killed it,” says Anderson, who provides a lot of details about the ups and downs of the Eel’s salmonid populations, which seemed doomed to extinction. 

“And the fact that they’ve come back gives me hope, because if they come back from all that, we’ve turned the corner and they should be fine.”

But what a roller coaster ride it’s been on this iconic stretch of water. 

“I see the salmon as this symbol of how we need to do it. If we can keep the salmon healthy and the habitat healthy, then we’re doing alright for ourselves.”

–Eric Stockwell, Eel River Recovery Project and Loleta Eric’s Guide Service owner, in A River’s Last Chance 

Anderson’s fishing experiences on the Trinity River regularly in the early 2000s eventually drew him to go back to school at Humboldt State, where he majored in fisheries biology to fulfill his fascination with the science side of his love of steelhead and salmon fishing. He’d also spent time in Los Angeles in the film production industry. Combining these two passions seemed like a no-brainer. 

“I kind of had the epiphany while going back to school there that if I could combine my background with film production and science that maybe I could be more effective in educating and inspiring people about how to save these places, rather than just being a scientist,” says Anderson, once a competitive downhill skier.

In 2012, he started his own production company, North Fork Studios (northforkstudios.net). His first feature documentary, 2014’s Wild Reverence, focused on the struggles of steelhead runs around his Pacific Northwest home base. But it was fishing on the Eel that kickstarted something altogether different. 

He recalled the first time fishing the South Fork along the famed Avenue of the Giants for steelhead. His first wild Chinook gobbled a Blue Fox in an area known as the 12th Street Pool.  

“I had no idea the place existed,” Anderson says. “It was one of those special places, but at the same time for many years my only experience on the Eel was either along the Avenue of the Giants or the lower river. I had no idea how vast that watershed really was until I started this project.”

“I started exploring the Middle Fork and the North Fork and up to the dams. And then you’re like, ‘Whoa! This place is huge’.” 

“The Eel River is part of our life; it is our bloodline … the heart that pumps into our land. It was home to us. Without that river we wouldn’t be who we are today.”  

–Ted Hernandez, chairman, Wiyot Tribe

The Eel once was filled with plentiful numbers of salmon and steelhead.

 

As Anderson says in his A River’s Last Chance opening-scene narration, “Some places along the river are like going back in time 10,000 years.” 

The 196-mile-long mainstem of the Eel – it got its name when 1840s explorers exchanging Pacific lampreys for cookware with Wiyot fishermen misidentified the aquatic creatures as eels – empties into the Pacific about 20 miles south of Eureka in Humboldt County. And each and every mile, not to mention the South and Middle Forks, runs with history.  

Sixty-five Native American tribes once called this region home, with the Eel drainage serving as the lifeblood of their subsistence lifestyle. In the 1850s, the river’s annual salmon runs – estimated to be as many as a million fish – attracted commercial fishermen and canneries, turning what is now sparsely populated wilderness into a boomtown. It didn’t take long for sport anglers to also flock to the Eel – Anderson heard stories of the Van Duzen River, one of the Eel’s major tributaries, once being a steelhead fishing destination for the rich and famous through remote fly-in lodges – and overfishing of both the commercial and recreational harvest made for a predictable decline. Two dam projects, Cape Horn Dam in 1908 and the Potter Valley Project’s Scott Dam in 1922, have been polarizing issues.  

Commercial fishing on the Eel was eventually banned, though the damage had been done, and by the turn of the 20th century, the tall trees that graced the region created another lucrative industry, timber. Still, old timers who appeared in the film remembered the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s as still being world-class for salmon fishing. 

“I remember thinking this deliberately: There are so many goddamn silver salmon in these coastal rivers of California, we can’t hurt them,” angler and artist Russell Chatham says in the film. “You could go down there with a fishing rod and kill every one that you caught. And it wouldn’t mean anything.”

“I read accounts of people having 30-fish days for steelhead in the middle of summer,” Anderson says. 

You can see how this trend was going to eventually fizzle out. 

“The Eel seems to be a river of ups and downs, or better yet of boom and bust. It is a river that was compromised by settlers taking advantage of its resources (salmon, timber, and water), pretty much the three most important things to a healthy river system,” says Jason Hartwick, the associate producer and cinematographer for A River’s Last Chance and owner of Arcata-based Steelhead on the Spey Guide Service (707-382-1655; steelheadonthespey.wordpress.com). 

“Salmon canneries damn near wiped out the salmon by the early 1900s, then logging went into full effect for the next 100 years, to where now all that we are left with is about 4 percent of old-growth redwood forests, water diversion through the PVP project, and now the ‘green rush’ (marijuana harvesting). We don’t seem to learn from our past mistakes and just continue going down the same road of destruction.”

  “One of the most giving species on Earth. They swim out to the ocean, get fat, come back and give all that marine nutrient to the inland environment, to people. Free, healthy, beautiful, self-sustaining source of protein and food. If that’s not a beautiful gift from nature, I don’t know what it is.” 

–Mike Wier, Cal Trout, filmmaker 

Four years after massive flooding in 1964, the Eel’s mainstem and South Fork salmon and steelhead runs came in at 9 percent of where they were in the plentiful 1940s. 

“Even when Chatham and Jim Adams from the movie started fishing in the early 1950s, they were still having amazing fishing days, and that was after it had already been depleted,” Anderson says. 

Then Governor Ronald Reagan’s late 1969 audible spared the river from being dammed again by the Dos Rios Dam project, and there were moments of brilliant salmon runs in the 1980s. But the excess had taken its toll, the area’s timber industry went bust and the salmon were designated an endangered species.

Then in 2010, a UC Davis study concluded the Eel’s coho, Chinook and steelhead were “on a trajectory towards extinction.” As if defiantly refusing to go down, the Eel’s 2012 run of Chinook was surprisingly and wonderfully massive. Anderson fished for steelhead that year and couldn’t believe what he was experiencing.  

“I was there fishing every day and I’m catching more fish down here than I ever have on the Olympic Peninsula. And I was fly fishing and gear fishing. On the fly I was averaging five fish a day, which is unheard of. And that lasted for like five years. And I was like, ‘Holy sh*t.’ And nobody was down there.”

But soon, the water diversion used from cultivating marijuana – often illegally – became the new timber boom in Humboldt County and adjacent areas where cannabis is plentiful. As if that wasn’t enough to all but finish off the Eel, one of the state’s most devastating droughts in recent memory wreaked havoc in the mid-2010s. 

But the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and other agencies accelerated the crusade to eliminate illegal marijuana harvesting, offering another lifeline of sorts for the Eel. 

“The marijuana thing is a little frightening, but that’s falling apart as fast as it booms. It’s completely changing up there as we speak,” Anderson says. “It won’t be long until most of the green rushers are gone. Fish and Game has really cracked down.”

“Man has done a really good job of trying to hurt this river and hurt the fish, but these things are just so strong and persevered through everything.”

–Kenny Priest, fishing guide and outdoor writer

Shane Hartwick, a local steelhead guy, is critical of how the river has been exposed by various outside forces over time.

 The drought took its toll on the Eel just like other rivers throughout California. Yet in 2016 as wetter winters finally began to restore some order in the ecosystem, back came the fish. And in the Eel River, it’s wild salmon and steelhead only, as hatchery fish are no longer released in the watershed. The Eel has become one of the West Coast’s most successful wild salmon and steelhead fisheries. 

Anderson hopes his film will continue to share the message that the Eel’s future is bright and not bleak. 

“I think a lot of people still have lost hope. A lot of local fishermen don’t even understand that even the good years a few years ago, I don’t think they either remember a much more abundant time or they don’t really have a baseline on how things are on the rest of the West Coast,” he says. “Maybe it’s because it’s closed to harvest; I don’t know. We definitely met people along the way who think it’s still dead, and I can assure you that it’s coming back.”

Hartwick agrees, but also offered a warning. 

“The future of the Eel depends on the people who work, live and care about it. The river has great potential to recover salmonids, but everyone has to work together,” he says. “That being said, the only way we will see a healthier Eel River and increasing fish numbers is with more cold, clean water.”

Hartwick sees the Potter Valley Project and diverting more water from its Scott Dam onto the Eel as a critical talking point to sustaining the watershed for the long term. But that issue is ongoing as a group of conservationists vie for an opportunity to purchase the project from PG&E and ensure that more of that valuable cold water is diverted to the river. 

Political issues aside, the Eel’s story of excess, decline and rebirth of its wild fish is told beautifully in A River’s Last Chance. Anderson, who despite his deep roots in the Pacific Northwest, has an emotional attachment to the Eel, is filled with a feeling many have lacked or been leery about embracing over the last half-century: hope. 

“I think we’ll get to over 100,000 Chinook. If you look at it there’s no harvest; there are no hatcheries; the timber practices have dramatically changed. There’s a really good chance that (Potter Valley Project’s dam is) coming out, especially now that PG&E has said they’re going to auction it off. And at the very minimum, even if the dam stays there will be better management of it,” he says. 

“And there all these habitat projects in the estuary being redone and dug out. CalTrout just pulled out a barrier in (Mendocino County’s Woodman Creek) and they’re doing it right now. It’s going to access another 14 miles (of spawning water). So we’re going to keep building with this restoration economy and we’re already seeing a lot of the spawning tributaries heal from a lot of the last wave of the timber boom in the mid-’90s. So I’m just seeing recovery all over the place … I don’t see another boom/bust in the future. I don’t even know what that would be. How can you not be optimistic? I think it’s the first time in the Eel’s history and the salmon’s history that they actually have people on their side.” CS

Editor’s note: You can purchase a DVD of A River’s Last Chance and its companion book, Seasons Of The Eel, at northforkstudios.net/shop-1. The film will also be shown at select film festivals this fall, including two in Northern California. Check northforkstudios.net/screenings for more information.

 

WHAT THE EEL MEANS TO A LOCAL

My friend Meg and I share roots in Northern California, though I didn’t meet her until years later (and her husband Sean and I actually grew up about 25 miles from each other, unbeknownst to us after we all met). 

But while I lived in the suburban sprawl of the Bay Area, Meg’s ’hood had access to redwood trees; the closest landmark to our house was a 7-Eleven. 

(Not that I’m complaining; my friends and I had too much fun going to Oakland A’s baseball games, which we could drive to in 25 minutes or get to on BART in at most an hour. I just did that same trip to the Oakland Coliseum in August!) 

When Meg and I talked about her wanting to see a screening of a documentary about the Eel River, A River’s Last Chance, I told her I was planning a story  on it, and she said she wanted to relive her childhood memories of this special waterway. 

If you knew Meg, you’d be inspired by her passion – about social justice issues, beer (she’s spent most of her career working in production for craft breweries), baseball. So I’m not surprised she has such a spiritual connection with the Eel having grown up in the Eureka area.

“My sisters and I grew up with summer day trips to Women’s Federation Grove, on the South Fork of the Eel River,” she said.  “There was an absolutely perfect swimming hole – complete with rock jumping and log walking.  Across the river and down the road is Albee Creek Campgound.  This is my peaceful, happy place.”

Meg said watching A River’s Last Chance “brought me to tears,”  and as I saw it and then chatted with director Shane Anderson, I could understand why the locals would feel emotional heartache but also hope about the Eel’s many setbacks and glorious recoveries from overfishing, timber industry stripdowns, floods, drought and now marijuana cultivation.  Meg recalled when Maxaam Inc. took over local timber company Pacific Lumber in the 1980s. 

“I had many friends whose parents worked for Pacific Lumber.  I experienced and witnessed the change in harvesting practices. Towards the end, Maaxam was able to convince people that their business practices weren’t the cause for people losing their jobs; the environmentalists were,” she said. “It was an incredibly sad and scary time.  Decades later, after I moved to Seattle, my home is still trying to recover.  My youngest sister works for the Bureau of Reclamation.  A few years ago she sent me a video; it showed the first time in recorded history that the Eel River had run dry.  It broke my heart.”

Like Meg, we all are attracted to a hard-luck story, and it’s hard not to fall in love with the gritty Eel, given that despite all the adversity its salmon and steelhead runs are exclusively wild with no hatchery stocks, a rarity on the West Coast.  

“If I catch a hatchery fish it’s fun and all good, but I don’t get that same excitement of ‘Wow!’ In this river these things survived the gauntlet and these fish were the survival of the fittest,” Anderson told me. “These were the chosen ones that were able to make this odyssey and not only survive the river, but one of the hardest parts of their lives are those first two years. I just have a reverence for the animal and they sure as hell battle harder.”

A River’s Last Chance might just be our last chance to experience something that extraordinary.  Here’s Meg, who lived through some of the Eel’s most tumultuous times, with the last word.

“I am so thankful for Shane taking the time to document the history of the small place I call home.  It’s an incredibly special place that not many people are lucky enough to experience.  I can only hope that we truly learn from our past behavior and right the many wrongs of our past.” -CC

 

 

Jason Hartwick/A River’s Last Chance

 

California Hunters Can Go Hog Wild Year-Round

Photos by Nancy Rodriguez

 

 

The following appears in the September issue of California Sportsman:

By Nancy Rodriguez

As the shadows lengthen across the golden grass-covered hillsides of California, I am perched on my chosen spot and glassing the valley below. The endless oak trees dotting the landscape are a parched palette of brownish and mottled green colors, and the foliage seems to be clinging to the promise of moisture sure to arrive. 

I sit with my binos glued to my eyes and scan every shadow on the hills looking for a dark spot moving along, like a hungry ant searching for leftover picnic crumbs. And soon I spot it – the horizontal line of a spotted feral pig’s back above the screen of brush below. 

I notice the straight tail and unmistakable pointy ears of the pig bouncing along as it tills the ground with reckless abandon. I scan the area around it and pick up several others feeding and my adrenaline starts to surge. The hunt is on!

I grab my crossbow and take a moment to plan my stalk. My greatest enemy at this moment is the wind, so I squeeze the bottle of wind check and send a wisp of powder spiraling into the air. I can see about a dozen pigs feeding alongside an oak tree and I begin my stalk.

Ever so slowly I creep along “pulling” the group into my effective shooting range. They are grunting and snorting along their own way, letting me know they are completely consumed with their dinner buffet.

With my binos raised to my eyes I spot a medium-sized dry sow and I adjust my course. As I creep closer my rangefinder reads 62, 48 and finally 23 yards. The wind is perfect and I am moving like molasses so the group has no idea there is a predator lurking in their midst. 

The spotted sow I am after is quartering to me and I float my crosshairs over the desired point of impact. My heart is pounding and with steady tension on the trigger the bolt is on its way. I hear a solid impact and watch as the sounder explodes in all directions. I have finally taken my first public-land pig with a crossbow. What a rush!

Spotting pigs might mean finding a “hog highway” or leading your way towards a pig bed at the base of a pine tree. (NANCY RODRIGUEZ)

 

NORTH AMERICA NEVER HAD native pigs and they did not exist in California until Russian and Spanish explorers introduced them. They were originally domesticated, but after free foraging they became feral. European wild boars were introduced to California by a Monterey County landowner in the 1920s. These two species bred and became a hybrid wild boar/feral domestic pig (as noted by California Department of Fish and Wildlife). Currently 56 of California’s 58 counties hold wild pigs; you just have to find them.

A great bonus is that wild pig hunting is open year-round in California, so they are a great species to hunt during the lull between other seasons. In addition, their abundance makes them a good animal for a new hunter to start with. 

When conditions are favorable, the wild pig population can explode and even triple every year and with limited eyesight and healthy populations, they create plenty of stalking and shot opportunities – especially for new bowhunters. 

 

WILD PIGS CONSUME A wide variety of foods and are classified as omnivores. If you can find what pigs are eating, you will likely find them. Depending on the season they may eat grasses, fruits, roots, acorns and even animal carcasses. 

When we’re not employing spot-and-stalk techniques, we’ve had good luck listening for them in the dense forest while still-hunting. Occasionally you will hear them rooting, grunting and squealing while they are feeding along. 

They are always moving and jockeying for position as they feed, which creates plenty of noise in dry conditions. They are fairly social and there tends to be groups of sows, yearlings and piglets running together. Once boars mature they tend to run solo. The boars that I have shot have all been running solo and the sows have been in groups.

Depending on the time of year we are hunting, we will focus on a few things. We first have to find the areas pigs are frequenting. We look for rooting (primarily in winter and spring), tracks, droppings, rubs and bedding areas. Game trails that run up and down hillsides are a good indication there are (or were) pigs in the area as well. Since pigs need water, water sources and wallows are a great area to focus on especially during warmer months. If you are lucky enough to find a wallow, check for tracks in the mud and rubs on surrounding trees. If the water in the wallow is cloudy and the mud on the rub trees is wet, pigs have been there recently. 

This may be a good spot to take a stand and let a few hours pass, especially on a hot summer day. The last two boars I have shot have been taken while glassing/sitting near water holes in the evening.

Pigs love to spend the majority of the day in bed. If you find them, often they will be sound asleep or wrestling for a better spot amongst the group. Pigs usually have several bedding areas, so when we come across a bed we mark it on our GPS. 

On slow afternoons, we will sneak from bedding area to bedding area until we find a bed with the pig we are looking for. Wild pig bedding areas are very distinct and usually will be a large rooted-out area of solid dirt the size of a house hot tub or Jacuzzi. 

They are usually tucked tight to the base of a large tree, fallen log or in dense brush. You will often notice a lone trail going into dense brush but not coming out the other side. If you find this, sneak in quietly and get ready for some quick action.

 

A harvested hog means some of the most tender and delicious meat you can put on the grill or smoker.

Photos bty

BETWEEN MY HUSBAND JOE and I, we have taken wild pigs with compound bows, crossbows, and centerfire rifles. Feral pigs are a bit tougher to take down than deer, so make sure you have adequate firepower. 

Big boars have a thick shoulder shield that can be very hard to penetrate. The last boar I shot had a shield that was well over an inch thick.

Once down, we process wild pigs the same as any big game animal. Cooling it down as quickly as possible is key, especially in warmer conditions. We always take great care of the meat we take and wild pork is some of our favorite table fare. 

In my opinion, this represents very underrated wild game meat. We will usually have roasts, cured/smoked ham, stew meat and sausage made from our harvest. Carnitas, tamales, pork chops, grilled tenderloin and amazing stews are some of our favorite pork meals. We’ve even served wild pig smoked ham for our family’s Christmas dinner. 

Like most wild game, wild pig hunting can be challenging and frustrating at times. They can live in extremely steep, hot and rugged terrain and can vanish at a moment’s notice. But since the season is open year-round, you have a lot of time to sharpen your skills and get one down. 

For more information on wild pig hunting laws and regulations visit wildlife.ca.gov/huntingCS

 Editor’s note: Nancy Rodriguez lives in Cool (El Dorado County) with her husband Joe. She is on the field staff for Prois Hunting Apparel and a brand rep for Rockstarlette Outdoors and enjoys inspiring women to get outdoors. 

 

Pacific Halibut Fishery Set To Close This Week

CDFW photo

 

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

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announces the recreational Pacific halibut fishery will close Friday, Sept. 21 at 11:59 p.m. for the remainder of 2018. Based on the latest catch projections, CDFW expects the 2018 California recreational quota of 30,940 pounds will have been taken by this date.

California’s 2018 quota is approximately 4,000 pounds less than the 2017 quota. The quota amount is determined annually through an international process, and is largely driven by results from the annual stock assessment conducted by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC).

Pacific halibut occupy a large geographic range, from the Aleutian Islands eastward through Alaska to British Columbia and throughout ocean waters of the Pacific Northwest. Along the West Coast, they are commonly found as far south as Point Arena in Mendocino County.

CDFW closely tracks the progress of the fishery each year, to ensure catch amounts do not exceed the California quota. CDFW field staff sample public launch ramps and charter boat landings to monitor catches of Pacific halibut throughout the season, along with other marine sportfish species.

Using this information, CDFW conferred with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the IPHC, and the Pacific Fishery Management Council on a weekly basis to review projected catch amounts and to determine when the 2018 quota would be attained. Formal authority to close the fishery resides with NMFS, which took action to close the fishery following consultation with CDFW.

For current information about the Pacific halibut fishery, science or management, please check one of the following resources:

Better Forecast On The Horizon For California Ducks

 

. Photo by Debra Hamilton/CDFW

The Ducks Unlimited 2018 waterfowl forecast was released on Friday, and the results seem to bode well for California’s duck migration. Here’s some of DU’s Pacific Flyway forecast:

The majority of Pacific Flyway waterfowl are raised on the prairies of the United States and Canada as well as in northwestern Canada, Alaska, and other western states. In southern Alberta, spring arrived quickly after a wintry start to April. The rapid snowmelt caused some localized flooding and recharged many wetland basins. Following a delayed start, waterfowl breeding efforts were in full swing by mid-May. Total breeding ducks in the region were down 14 percent from the 2017 estimate but remained 28 percent above the long-term average.

“Summer was warmer and drier than average across southern and central Alberta, but carryover water from the spring runoff and localized rainfall helped maintain semipermanent wetland habitats,” reports DU Canada biologist Ian McFarlane. “Although waterfowl breeding efforts were delayed by cool spring weather, good numbers of broods were observed in many areas.” …

In the western United States, wetland conditions were variable as some areas have improved while others continue to suffer drought conditions. In California, total ducks were up 39 percent compared to the 2017 estimate and were near the long-term average. In Oregon and Washington, duck populations were up 23 percent and 16 percent, respectively, and were above the long-term average in both states.  

California’s waterfowl seasons will get started in early- to mid-October. Check the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s waterfowl regulations page for more information.

 

Lower Klamath Salmon Quota Met; Trinity Anglers Encouraged To Return Tags

Photos by CDFW

The following press releases are courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Lower Klamath Meets Chinook Quota

Based upon California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) projections of the recreational fall Chinook salmon catch on the Klamath River, anglers will meet the Lower Klamath River adult fall Chinook salmon quota below the Highway 96 Bridge near Weitchpec for the 2018 season as of 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12.

This triggers the closure of the adult Chinook salmon fishery on the main stem of the Klamath River from the Highway 96 Bridge to the mouth of the Klamath River at the Pacific Ocean. The fishery at the mouth of the Klamath was closed as of Sept 4, 2018 and will remain closed to all fishing for the rest of the calendar year. The rest of the lower main stem of the Klamath River below the Highway 96 Bridge at Weitchpec will remain open to the harvest of jack (two-year-old) Chinook salmon (22 inches or less). All adult Chinook salmon caught must be immediately released and reported on the angler’s report card.

Anglers may still fish for adult Chinook salmon in other reaches of the Klamath basin, including the main stem of the Klamath River above Weitchpec and the entire Trinity River until the closure of those fisheries.

Anglers may monitor the quota status of open and closed sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers by calling the information hotline at (800) 564-6479.

For more information regarding Klamath River fishing regulations, please consult the 2018-2019 California Freshwater and Supplemental sport fishing regulations at wildlife.ca.gov/regulations.

Trinity Anglers Asked To Turn In Chinook Tags

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reminding Trinity River anglers to return Coho salmon, Chinook salmon and steelhead tags in a timely manner.

Tag return information is used each year to calculate harvest and help biologists estimate population size of steelhead and salmon runs. This information feeds into the Klamath basin fall Chinook salmon run-size estimate and informs the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s creation of regulations and quota sizes for the Klamath fishery. The data also allows CDFW to determine if progress is being made toward the goals of the Trinity River Restoration Program. CDFW will no longer be paying rewards for Trinity River tags returned from previous seasons, according to CDFW Trinity River Project Environmental Scientist Mary Claire Kier.

“We rely on anglers returning reward tags to us in the same season that the fish are caught so we can use the information in the season-setting process,” Kier said. “Timely return of reward tags is very important to secure an accurate estimate of the annual harvest. Only tags returned to CDFW in the same season they are obtained can be used in the harvest estimates, yet we often have tags returned to us as many as 10 years late. Unfortunately that catch information has no value to us at that point.”

As a reminder, anglers must immediately release all Coho salmon and wild steelhead (those with an intact adipose fin). Tags may be removed from these species, but the fish must remain in the water during tag removal. Please use scissors or a sharp knife to remove the tag.

Please return all Trinity River fish tags to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
5341 Ericson Way
Arcata, CA 95521

Anglers can obtain a form to accompany the tags at www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/inland/fish-tags or send the tags with:

  • Angler’s name and address
  • Date and location fish was caught
  • Whether the fish was kept or released

Anglers should also cut the knot off tags before sending to ensure they will clear the United States Postal Service sorting machine.

 

California’s Upland Bird Art Contest Approaching

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 conducting an art contest to select the design for the state’s 2018-2019 upland game bird stamp.

The California Upland Game Bird Stamp Art Contest is open to all U.S. residents ages 18 and over. Entries will be accepted from Nov. 20 through Dec.7.

This year’s stamp will feature the white-tailed ptarmigan (Lagopus leucuraI). This smallest of North American grouse species exhibits a dramatic change in plumage from a mottled or a barred brown-yellow during breeding in spring to a pure white during the winter months, allowing this chameleon of the bird world excellent camouflage on the ground year-round in its alpine habitat. In California, ptarmigan occupy the highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada from Alpine County south to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.

Entries must include at least one white-tailed ptarmigan, preferably in a habitat or setting representative of California. Entries will be judged on originality, artistic composition, anatomical accuracy and suitability for reproduction as a stamp and a print.

The contest will be judged by a panel of experts in the fields of ornithology, conservation, art and printing. The winning artist will be selected during a public judging event, with the date and location to be announced later.

An upland game bird validation is required for hunting migratory and resident upland game birds in California. The money generated from stamp sales must be spent on upland game bird-related conservation projects, education, hunting opportunities and outreach. CDFW sells about 175,000 upland game bird validations annually. Any individual who purchases an upland game bird validation may request their free collectable stamp by visiting www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/collector-stamps. For collectors who do not purchase a hunting license or upland game bird validation, or for hunters who wish to purchase additional collectible stamps, an order form is also available on the website.

For contest information and entry forms, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/upland-game-bird-stamp.

Feather River Fish Hatchery Opening This Week

CDFW photo

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

The fish ladder at Feather River Hatchery in Oroville will open Friday, Sept. 14, signaling the start of the spawning season on the Feather River.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) hatchery workers will open the gates in the ladder about 8 a.m. and will take more than 3 million spring-run eggs and 12 million fall-run eggs over the next two months in order to produce Chinook salmon for release next spring.

The hatchery is open from sunrise to sunset. Visitors can observe the salmon through the viewing windows and from the observation deck located at the base of the fish barrier dam. At the main side of the hatchery, visitors can observe CDFW technicians performing the spawning process. Thousands of schoolchildren tour the Feather River Hatchery each year. For more information about spawning schedules and educational opportunities at the Feather River Hatchery, please call (530) 538-2222 or visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/hatcheries/feather-river. For information about hatchery tours, please call (530) 534-2306.

For more information about California’s fish hatcheries, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/hatcheries.

CDFW Awards $27.8 Million In Funding For Various Projects

 

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

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of 24 projects to receive funding from its Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Prop. 1) Restoration Grant Programs.

The awards, totaling $27.8 million, were made under CDFW’s 2018 Prop. 1 Restoration Grant Programs Resiliency, Recovery and Response Proposal Solicitation Notice.

Of the $27.8 million, approximately $23.9 million was awarded through the Watershed Restoration Grant Program to projects of statewide importance outside of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and approximately $3.9 million awarded through the Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program to projects that directly benefit the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The awarded projects represent priorities outlined in the 2018 Solicitation, as well as the California Water Action Plan. The 2018 solicitation included a specific focus on large-scale wildfire response and Central Valley salmon resilience and recovery.

“CDFW has maintained an adaptive priority-setting approach each year under our Prop. 1 grant program, and we are pleased to fund a number of projects this year that support fire recovery as well as continuing restoration actions,” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said. “We are proud to have funded over 100 on-the-ground projects in the four years since the implementation of Prop. 1. These are projects that will continue to deliver benefits to our fish and wildlife, and the habitats where they thrive.”

Projects approved for funding through the Watershed Restoration Grant Program include:

Implementation Projects 

  • Restoring Ecosystem Function in the Upper Salt River Watershed ($1,131,333 to Humboldt County Resource Conservation District
  • Upper Truckee River and Marsh Restoration Project ($1,700,066 to California Tahoe Conservancy)
  • Martis Wildlife Area Restoration Project ($3,280,656 to Truckee River Watershed Council)
  • El Capitan Creek Fish Passage Restoration Implementation ($1,179,473 to California Department of Parks and Recreation)
  • Rubber Dam No. 1 System Fish Passage Improvements Project ($5,000,0000 to Alameda County Water District)
  • East Creek Restoration Project ($316,803 to Plumas Corporation)
  • Reidy Creek Restoration and Beautification Project ($380,873 to The Escondido Creek Conservancy)
  • The Road to Recovery: Redwood Complex Fire Restoration – Implementation ($656,902 to Mendocino County)
  • Post Fire Forest Management and Sediment Reduction for Coho Recovery ($1,423,107 to Sonoma Resource Conservation District)
  • Grasslands Floodplain Restoration Implementation Project ($1,342,718 to American Rivers)
  • Robin’s Nest Fire Recovery and Habitat Restoration Project ($301,600 to Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority)
  • West Stanislaus Irrigation District Fish Screen Project ($2,250,000 to West Stanislaus Irrigation District)
  • San Francisco Estuary Invasive Spartina Removal and Tidal Marsh Restoration Project, Phase II ($2,200,000 to California State Coastal Conservancy)
  • Multi-benefit Floodplain Restoration at Dos Rios Ranch and Steenstrup Slough ($1,588,911 to River Partners)

Planning Projects 

  • San Ysidro Creek Debris Basin Capacity Improvement Project ($139,744 to Santa Barbara County Flood Control and Water Conservation District)
  • Cold Springs Debris Basin Capacity Improvement Project ($139,744 to Santa Barbara County Flood Control & Water Conservation District)
  • Romero Creek Debris Basin Capacity Improvement Project ($139,744 to Santa Barbara County Flood Control and Water Conservation District)
  • Mapping, Assessment and Planning for Recovery and Resiliency in Fire-Damaged Watersheds in the Thomas Fire and Whittier Fire Recovery Zones ($382,223 to Santa Barbara Botanic Garden)
  • The Road to Recovery: Redwood Complex Fire Restoration – Planning ($88,382 to Mendocino County)
  • Dos Pueblos Creek Restoration Designs ($222,104 to Earth Island Institute)

Projects approved for funding through the Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program include: 

Scientific Studies

  • Eyes and Ears: Using Lens and Otolith Isotopes to Quantify Critical Rearing Habitats for Salmon Viability ($838,279 to University of California, Davis)
  • Cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Bloom Toxins in Freshwater and Estuarine Invertebrates: Implications for Managed Species, Their Communities, and Human Health Risks ($612,115 to Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board)
  • Pathogen Screening and Health Status of Outmigrating Chinook Salmon in the California Delta ($733,884 to University of California, Davis)
  • High Resolution Temporal and Spatial Mapping of Mercury in Surface Waters of the San Francisco Bay Delta ($1,708,808 to University of California, Merced)

General information about CDFW’s Prop. 1 Restoration Grant Programs, as well as a schedule of locations and dates for workshops, once available, can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/grants.

Funding for these projects comes from Prop. 1 bond funds, a portion of which are allocated annually through the California State Budget Act. More information about Prop. 1 is on the California Natural Resources Agency website.