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Despite Hatchery Woes, Holiday Stockings Enhance Fishing Opportunities

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

The winter holidays are a popular time for families and individuals to enjoy recreational trout fishing, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) trout hatcheries plan to provide plenty of opportunities for anglers of all ages over the next two weeks. Specific plants of catchable trout are scheduled at 53 waters in 25 counties.

Anglers planning trout fishing outings over the winter holidays should check CDFW’s Fish Planting Schedule to see the latest waters planted with trout.

CDFW stocking of hatchery trout in central and Southern California waters has been hampered by ongoing infrastructure upgrades at four of CDFW’s 13 trout hatcheries. However, CDFW has been working diligently to ensure that trout stocking will continue in these and other parts of the state.

“Our Moccasin Creek Hatchery flooded, and supersaturated well water impacted the Fillmore, Fish Springs and Mojave hatcheries” said Dr. Mark Clifford, an environmental program manager for CDFW’s hatcheries. “Seventy-eight-year-old infrastructure and acts of nature are problematic. Our dedicated staff, including engineers, are consistently addressing issues as they arise.

“Overall, state trout production has increased incrementally since 2015 when the drought severely impacted our operations,” Dr. Clifford said. “This year was projected to be the best year in the last five. We have experienced setbacks but will continue to strive to meet our production goals.”

The spring flooding of CDFW’s Moccasin Creek Hatchery in Tuolumne County required evacuation of both staff and fish. The hatchery suffered $3.2 million in damages. Repairs are ongoing, and the hatchery is expected to come back online in the spring of 2019 and then return to full production by 2020.

Historically, Moccasin Creek Hatchery produced more than 200,000 pounds of fish per year and was a major supplier of trout for the 12 counties in CDFW’s Central Region – Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Stanislaus, Tulare and Tuolumne. To mitigate the loss of trout production at the Moccasin Creek Hatchery, CDFW’s San Joaquin Hatchery in Fresno County has maximized production and is currently raising and stocking trout for waters in these counties.

To maximize angling opportunities with limited resources, Central Region fisheries biologists have prioritized stocking waters adjacent to major highway corridors such as State Routes 108/120 in Tuolumne County, State Route 168 in Fresno County and State Route 178 in Kern County. The region will also prioritize children’s fishing events.

In Southern California, the 78-year-old Fillmore Trout Hatchery in eastern Ventura County is closed for maintenance, upgrades and modernization. Prior to its closure, Fillmore Trout Hatchery fish were moved to the Mojave River Hatchery in San Bernardino County, which underwent renovations in 2017, and has been raising trout for much of Southern California.

CDFW is maximizing Mojave River Hatchery production with existing inventories along with trout brought in from other hatcheries and expects an improved Fillmore Trout Hatchery back online in coming months. Trout stocking in Southern California will be focused at urban parks, fishing derbies and Fishing in the Cityevents.

The following list offers a county-by-county breakdown of stocking locations throughout the state that will receive winter holiday trout plants between now and Jan. 4, 2019:

Alameda County

  • Lakeshore Park Pond

Contra Costa County

  • Heather Farms Pond

Butte County

  • Desabla Reservoir

El Dorado County

  • Folsom Lake
  • Jenkinson Lake

Fresno County

  • Fresno City Woodward Park Lake
  • Kings River Below Pine Flat Dam

Inyo County

  • Diaz Lake
  • Owens River (Bishop to Big Pine)
  • Pleasant Valley Reservoir
  • Orbit Pond

Kern County

  • Ming Lake
  • Kern River (Powerhouse #3 to Riverside Park in Kernville)

Lake County

  • Blue Lake Upper

Los Angeles County

  • Reseda Park Lake
  • Kenneth Hahn Lake
  • El Dorado Park Lake
  • Castaic Lake

Madera County

  • Bass Lake

Marin County

  • Bon Tempe Lake

Mendocino County

  • Mill Creek Lake

Nevada County

  • Rollins Reservoir
  • Scotts Flat Reservoir

Orange County

  • Centennial Lake
  • Huntington Park Lake
  • Eisenhower Park Lake

Placer County

  • Halsey Forebay
  • Folsom Lake
  • Rollins Reservoir
  • Auburn Regional Park Pond

Plumas County

  • Lake Almanor

Riverside County

  • Little Lake
  • Rancho Jurupa Park Pond

Sacramento County

  • Elk Grove Park Pond
  • Hagen Park Pond
  • Folsom Lake (Granite Bay boat ramp)
  • Howe Community Park Pond
  • North Natomas Park Pond
  • Granite Park Pond
  • Rancho Seco Lake
  • Mather Lake

San Bernardino County

  • Glen Helen Park Lake
  • Prado Regional Park Lake

San Diego County

  • Cuyamaca Lake
  • Murray Lake

Shasta County

  • Baum Lake
  • Clover Creek Pond (weather and road conditions dependent)
  • Kapusta Pond (weather and road conditions dependent)

Stanislaus County

  • Woodward Reservoir

Tulare County

  • Mooney Grove Park Pond
  • Del Lago Park Lake

Ventura County

  • Rancho Simi Park Lake

Yuba County

  • Collins Lake

CDFW Seeking Assistance To Solve Elk Poaching Incident In Humboldt

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

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is seeking information about an elk poaching case currently under investigation in Humboldt County.

On Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, CDFW wildlife officers responded to a poaching report in the Maple Creek area, southeast of Blue Lake. During the investigation, officers discovered four dead Roosevelt cow (female) elk. An examination showed the animals were recently killed with a firearm, and one of the elk was pregnant.

CDFW closely manages the state’s Roosevelt elk herds. A limited number of hunting permits are available for this species in Humboldt County, and some hunters wait more than a decade to be successful in the drawing. Elk hunting season was not open at the time these animals were shot.

Officers are continuing their investigation, including processing evidence left at the crime scene. CDFW asks that anyone who has any information regarding this poaching crime to contact the statewide tip hotline, CalTIP, at 1 (888) 334-2258. Tips can also be sent via text to CALTIP, followed by a space and the message to tip411 (847411). CalTIP (Californians Turn In Poachers and Polluters) is a confidential secret witness program that encourages the public to provide CDFW with factual information leading to the arrest of poachers and polluters.

Fish And Game Commission Shut Down Abalone Fishery

Photo by CDFW

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

At its December 2018 meeting in Oceanside, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. The following are just a few items of interest from the meeting.

The Commission voted unanimously to extend the closure of the recreational red abalone fishery until April 1, 2021. In December 2017, the Commission closed the recreational abalone fishery season due to the declining abalone population because of starvation conditions. The commercial red abalone fishery closed in 1997.

The Commission voted unanimously to approve 15 Experimental Gear Permits to be issued by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) for the purpose of targeting brown box crabs with the goal of authorizing new methods of using existing commercial fishing gear to research potential new fishing opportunities. The Commission also approved a list of terms and conditions to be associated with the permits. A drawing took place following Wednesday’s meeting to identify the order of the fishermen who would receive one of the approved experimental gear permits.

The Commission took action to conform state groundfish regulations with recently adopted federal regulations that largely expanded groundfish opportunity for California recreational groundfish anglers.

CDFW staff gave a presentation on living with coyotes and the Wildlife Watch program, as well as announced the release of the Statewide Elk Conservation and Management Plan.

Commission President Eric Sklar, Commission Vice President Anthony Williams and Commissioner Russell Burns were present. Commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Peter Silva were absent. This was Commission Vice President Anthony Williams’ last meeting. Beginning Jan. 7, 2019, he will begin serving as Legislative Secretary for incoming Governor Gavin Newsom.

The full Commission video and audio minutes, supporting information and a schedule of upcoming meetings are available at www.fgc.ca.gov. An archived video will also be available in the coming days.

The California Fish and Game Commission was the first wildlife conservation agency in the United States, predating even the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries. There is often confusion about the distinction between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Commission. In the most basic terms, CDFW implements and enforces the regulations set by the Commission, as well as provides biological data and expertise to inform the Commission’s decision-making process.

CDFW Releases Statewide Elk Conservation Management Plan

Photo by CDFW


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

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has released a Statewide Elk Conservation and Management Plan. The plan has undergone extensive public review and will help guide state wildlife managers’ efforts to maintain healthy elk herds. The plan builds on the success of efforts to reestablish elk in suitable historic ranges, and management practices that have resulted in robust elk populations throughout the state. It includes objectives for providing public educational and recreational opportunities, habitat enhancement and restoration, and minimization of conflicts on private property.

“This plan demonstrates CDFW’s commitment to build upon its strong foundation for the continued conservation of this iconic species for future management of California’s elk populations,” said CDFW Wildlife Branch Chief Kari Lewis.

There are three subspecies of elk in California: Roosevelt (Cervus canadensis roosevelti), Rocky Mountain (Cervus canadensis nelsoni) and Tule (Cervus canadensis nannodes). California’s 22 Elk Management Units (EMUs) collectively comprise the distribution of all three species within their respective ranges in the state. The plan addresses historical and current geographic range, habitat conditions and trends, and major factors affecting all three species statewide, also in addition to individually addressing each EMU. The EMU plans include herd characteristics, harvest data, management goals, and management actions to conserve and enhance habitat conditions on public and private lands.

More information about California’s Elk Management Program can be found on CDFW’s website.

California Water Board Introduces Potential $1.7 Billion Lifeline For Fish Conservation (Updated)

Update: After a long day and lots of testimony, the plan was voted through, per the Sac Bee: 

The vote probably won’t be last word on river flows, however. Earlier in the day, Brown’s administration offered a broad, $1.7 billion compromise agreement under which many cities and farms across the Central Valley would surrender water to the fish and would kick in cash to help the ailing species survive. The money would be spent on building spawning grounds and making other habitat improvements.

The compromise represents “collaboration over conflict,” said Chuck Bonham, director of Brown’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. Karla Nemeth, director of the Department of Water Resources, said some of the habitat restoration projects could begin as early as next year.

Read more here: https://www.sacbee.com/latest-news/article223031605.html#storylink=cpy


The tug-of-war/steel cage match that’s California water wars  took a new turn today when the state’s water board introduced a $1.7 billion plan that could help the potential fallout for salmon and other ecological interests in the state.

The Sacramento Bee was at the meeting and has some details: 

Capping 30 days of feverish negotiations, the Department of Water Resources and the Department of Fish and Wildlife unveiled a dramatic plan that would reallocate more than 700,000 acre-feet of water from farms and cities throughout much of the Central Valley, leaving more water in the rivers and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to support ailing steelhead and Chinook salmon populations.

That’s enough water to fill up three quarters of Folsom Lake, and several thousand acres of farmland would be fallowed as a result.

In addition, agricultural irrigation districts and municipal water agencies up and down the Central Valley have tentatively agreed to surcharges on their water to pay for massive habitat restorations to help fish — improved spawning grounds, development of nutrient-rich floodplains and more. The districts would kick in a total of $800 million and the state is planning to contribute $900 million, using water-bond proceeds and other sources, said Karla Nemeth, director of the Department of Water Resources.

That unveiling brought some negative and positive reactions – the former coming from many conservationist types who didn’t feel the plan was enough to support the state’s fish during a time when the state has suggested more water for agricultural interests and diversion to Southern California.


But there does seem to be some progress made today, though it’s difficult to imagine any peace pipes shared anytime soon.





Groundfish Limits Increase Could Be A Boon For West Coast Fishing

Photo by Mark Fong

Our correspondent Mark Fong (above right)  told me about a rockfishing trip he took last weekend out of Bodega Bay. Fong and his buddy Ian Rigler (above left) brought home plenty of lingcod and rockfish fillets for their freezers. It’s a productive time for deep-sea fishing off the California coast, as this L.A. Times story this week from reporter Louis Sahagun reports:

But with stocks rebuilding faster than anticipated, federal officials on Tuesday boosted catch limits by more than 100% for some species of rockfish in a move they said would help revive West Coast bottom trawlers and sportfishing fleets.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s action is expected to result in anglers taking about 218,000 additional annual trips in coastal waters — about 148,000 of them between Santa Barbara and San Diego.

Officials say the move could generate an estimated 900 jobs and up to $54 million in annual revenue in West Coast states in 2019, including about 630 jobs and $44 million in Southern California. It may also put fresh, locally caught varieties of rockfish commonly sold as red snapper back on dinner plates in Southern California restaurants, which currently rely almost entirely on frozen seafood imported from Mexico and around the world.

Here’s more from NOAA’s release on the increases and potential impact:

Those continued collaborative and scientific efforts made higher annual catch limits possible for many groundfish species for 2019 and 2020. This will increase recreational and commercial fishing for bocaccio, darkblotched rockfish, Pacific Ocean perch, lingcod north of the California/Oregon border, and California scorpionfish. The new rule also reduces depth restrictions for recreational fishing and increases trip limits for fixed-gear fishermen.

The changes are expected to boost commercial and recreational fishing revenues, with sport anglers expected to take thousands more fishing trips off the West Coast as a result. Their spending on motels, meals, charter trips, and more is expected to boost recreational fishing income coast-wide by about $55 million, with the largest increases in California.

The harvest rule changes also promote quota trading among fishermen in the Shore-based Individual Fishing Quota Program, also known as the Groundfish Catch Share Program, which will help them make the most of the new fishing opportunities. The changes will also allow increased catches of underutilized species, such as yellowtail rockfish, lingcod, chilipepper rockfish, and Pacific cod.

Although the bycatch of Chinook salmon in the groundfish fishery is low and is expected to remain low, this new rule adds tools for NOAA Fisheries and the Pacific Fishery Management Council to respond quickly to address any unexpected changes in the amount of bycatch.


Salmon Industry Leader Warns About Salmon Fallout In California

(NOAA photo by Thomas Dunklin)


Noah Oppenheim, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations,  contributed a powerful column in the San Francisco Chronicle  about California’s contentious water situation. From outgoing Governor (for the second time) Jerry Brown’s controversial tunnels plan that could threaten salmon passage from saltwater through the Delta to the potential for more dams on Northern California/Central Valley reservoirs,  a boxing match that seems to be pitting distributing valuable Delta water towards farmers and Southern California communities and conservationists and the fishing industry focused on restoring salmon spawning habitat.

Here’s Oppenheim in the Chronicle, referencing Senator Dianne Feinstein’s new national water bill that some believe will affect the state’s already fragile salmon runs:

Feinstein’s anti-fishing rider would allow the Trump administration to pump even more water out of the delta in violation of required protections for endangered salmon. The five-year WIIN Act was initially passed during a similar lame duck period in 2016, without any hearings or oversight, as a temporary measure to respond to drought. Now the feds are proposing to extend its authority to 2028, and to add hundreds of millions of dollars to the pork barrel, again without any public hearings.

This agreement also provides hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer funding for unwise dams and diversions, such as building the proposed Sites Reservoir and raising the height of the federal Shasta Dam (which is currently being studied by the Department of the Interior despite such a plan being illegal under state law). The beneficiaries: corporate agricultural interests who are federal water project contractors and who will continue to receive cheap water heavily subsidized by taxpayers.

President Trump, as eager as anyone to weaken environmental safeguards, and outgoing Leader McCarthy, who has worked to coordinate with Feinstein on bad water policies, have done unthinkable damage to fish and the fishing community. This playbook will only result in policies that drive us closer to the brink of salmon extinction.



Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Pushed Back Again To Dec. 31

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

Based on results of another quality test, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham has announced an additional 15-day delay of the northern California commercial Dungeness Crab season. The new opener date is Dec. 31. Results of the Dec. 4 quality test continue to show that Dungeness Crab are not yet ready for harvesting.

Delays due to quality only affect the northern commercial fishery in California Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties). The season in these districts is now scheduled to open at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 31, 2018, to be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Dec. 28, 2018.

Crab are evaluated to compare meat weight to total crab weight to determine whether they are ready for harvest under testing guidelines established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee. If results indicate low or poor quality, the Director may delay the fishery in Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties, under authority of Fish and Game Code, section 8276.2.

Additional testing will be scheduled to occur by Dec. 21. If quality results remain low, a final delay announcement issued by the Director would further delay the season until Jan. 15, 2019.

No vessel may take or land crab in an area closed for a meat quality delay (i.e., Fish and Game districts 6, 7, 8 and 9) or within an area closed for a domoic acid delay. In addition, any vessel that takes, possesses onboard or lands crab from ocean waters outside of a delayed area is prohibited from participating in the crab fishery in any delayed area for 30 days following the opening of those areas. This applies to any delayed areas in Oregon and Washington as well as in California.

The updated Frequently Asked Questions for the current 2018-19 season addresses questions regarding the Fair Start provision.

For more information about Dungeness Crab fisheries in California, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab.

For more information on health advisories related to fisheries, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/health-advisories.

Salmon Count High At Moke Fish Hatchery

Mokelumne hatchery photo by CDFW

The Stockton Record has a story this week about a lot of salmon being spotted at the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery. 

Here’s a little more about the fish count from Recordnet.com:

The count over Woodbridge Dam on the Mokelumne to date is 16,300 salmon, including 5,654 jacks, according to William Smith, hatchery manager. A record number of fall-run Chinook salmon, 19,954, went over Woodbridge Dam in the fall of 2017, the highest number since 1940. The season ends on the rivers on December 16.

When I visited the hatchery on November 29, the river and hatchery were plugged with salmon ready for spawning.

“With so many threats facing fish, strong returns confirm the health of the Mokelumne River, making this a welcoming home where salmon can survive and thrive,” said Jose Setka, EBMUD manager of Fisheries and Wildlife.


41 CDFW Projects Approved For Funding

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 41 projects that will receive funding for the restoration, enhancement and protection of anadromous salmonid habitat in California watersheds, as well as forest legacy restoration.

The grants, which total $13.2 million, are distributed through CDFW’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP). They include $994,421 allocated for timber legacy restoration projects and approximately $12.2 million for anadromous salmonid restoration projects. FRGP monies come from a combination of state sources and the federal Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund.

“We are excited to fund this round of projects, and to support the restoration and protection of habitat critical to our salmon and steelhead.” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said. “This year’s devastating wildfires and looming drought continue to put our fisheries at risk, making the work of our stakeholders that much more important.”

In response to the 2018 Fisheries Habitat Restoration Grant Solicitation, CDFW received 89 proposals requesting more than $37 million in funding. All proposals underwent an initial administrative review. Those that passed were then evaluated through a technical review process that included reviews by CDFW and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists.

The 41 approved projects will further the objectives of state and federal fisheries recovery plans, including removing barriers to fish migration, restoring riparian habitat, monitoring of listed populations and creating a more resilient and sustainably managed water resources system (e.g., water supply, water quality and habitat) that can better withstand drought conditions. These projects further the goals of California’s Water Action Plan and CDFW’s State Wildlife Action Plan, as well as addressing limiting factors specified in state and federal recovery plans.

The list of approved projects is available on the FRGP website.