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Drought’s Devastation For Native Fish


Photo by CDFW

Photo by CDFW


Compelling and haunting story in the L.A. Times this week about the drought’s effects on California’s native fish populations, specifically Chinook salmon.

With the drought four years and counting now, the ramifications of scant rainfall totals, little snowpack and runoff and hot conditions have made survival difficult for salmon heading back from the Pacific into the state’s rivers.

From Times reporter Bettina Boxall:

Spawning winter-run Chinook would never choose to hang out on the outskirts of Redding on a day when the city baked in 111-degree heat. They would prefer to swim in the cold, spring-fed waters of the McCloud and other Sacramento tributaries to the north.

But for about 70 years, those historic spawning grounds have been out of salmon reach, blocked by the towering concrete face of Shasta and the buttresses of its smaller sibling, Keswick Dam.

“This is as far as fish can go on the Sacramento main stem,” fishery biologist Ryan Revnak said as he steered his boat upriver toward Keswick, which regulates flows from Shasta’s hydropower plant.

Revnak, who works for the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, pointed out the gravel beds where the salmon built their nests, called redds. A female, close to death after laying her eggs, hovered in shallow water near the bank. A dead male, his procreative work also done, floated by.

Salmon eggs and emerging fry need cold water to survive. The river temperature shouldn’t top 56 degrees. Last year in the spawning grounds below Keswick, it climbed above 62 degrees. Only 5% of the 2014 brood stock lived.

In the story, Boxall visits the Livingston Stone National Fish Hatchery at Shasta Dam, which has endured heartbreak in terms of loss of salmon.

Last summer, a narrow, rock-rimmed stretch of the blue-green Sacramento River near Redding turned into a mass graveyard for baby salmon. Upstream releases of water from Shasta Dam were so warm, virtually an entire generation of endangered winter-run Chinook was wiped out. 

The tanks and egg trays are bathed with circulating water released from the dam. Last summer, hatchery managers had to use chillers to maintain the proper temperature. They may have to do the same this year.

To counter the drought losses, Livingston has ramped up production. The hatchery team is spawning 300 adults this year and come winter will release twice as many juveniles into the Sacramento as it normally does.

But even in good years, only a tiny fraction of those young hatchery salmon survive to adulthood and return to spawn. And if river conditions aren’t right, their offspring will perish.

Facing that grim scenario, Livingston last year established a captive brood stock, which the hatchery will raise for the entire three-year life cycle of the fish. If worse comes to worst, it will function as a fall-back population. “You can’t give up trying,” said Assistant Hatchery Manager John Rueth.

In the meantime, he added, “All of us keep praying for this massive El Niño.”

That El Niño scenario, which unfortunately could also create a whole new set of problems in the state (not to mention not even reverse the curse of this wretched drought), may be a salmon’s sole Christmas wish list this holiday season.




Reservoir Levels Update

Folsom Lake is at 21 percent capacity right now. (JOHN CHACON/CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES)

Folsom Lake is at 21 percent capacity right now. (JOHN CHACON/CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES)


Here’s an update on reservoir levels from the California Department of Water Resources.

Some notable numbers (with current percent of capacity)

Trinity Lake (29)

Lake Oroville (31)

Shasta Lake (40)

Folsom Lake (21)

Camanche Lake (20)

New Melones Lake (13)

Don Pedro Lake (32)

Stampede Reservoir (14)

San Luis Reservoir (19)

Lake Cachuma (19)

Castaic Lake (38)

Lake Perris (36)




Get Your Duck Calls Ready




Photo courtesy of Sue Graue photography

Photo courtesy of Sue Graue photography


Our friends at Kittle’s Outdoor Sports in Colusa (530-458-4868) provided this release for this weekend’s big duck calling contest:

The 2015 California State Duck Calling Championship & Outdoor Expo will be in Colusa on August 29 and 30 at the 10th Street Veteran’s Memorial Park.
Kittle’s Outdoor Staff is proudly hosting this event for the fifth year in a row. “Each year we spend months preparing for this event, hoping to bring in new and exciting products, sales, events, and much more,” said Pat Kittle, owner of Kittle’s Outdoor & Sports.
He added that this is the perfect weekend plan for everyone in the family, from experienced hunters to young aspiring hunters. There will be two free seminars on Saturday and Sunday. Additionally, on Saturday morning after opening ceremonies, there will be a FREE Junior Duck Calling Workshop hosted by Three-time World-Champion Brad Allen and Junior World Champion Ryan Sherbondy.
This year, California Waterfowl Association will be joining the event in the park as their Regional Duck Calling Contest becomes part of the Colusa event. “
That means there are 2 contests that can get you your ticket to the World Contest in Stuttgart, Arkansas,” said Kittle. There are also multiple other CA state contests that are not World Qualifiers, but bring in a lot of competition!
Kittle announced that there is a full line of for the two-day gathering:
9 am – Dedication of events followed by Free Junior Calling Workshop.
10:30 am – Junior / Intermediate Duck
11:30 am – Junior / Intermediate Speck
12:15 pm – Seminar: “Speck Hunting My Way” with Ben Williams
1:30 pm – CWA Regional Duck Calling Championship World Qualifier ($50 entry fee)
3 pm – CA State Live Duck.
6 pm – CWA Fundraiser Hunter’s Party at Steelhead Lodge Bar & Grill

9 am – Dedication of events; CA State Canada Goose Youth & Adults
10:30 am – CA State Duck Calling Championship World Qualifier ($50 entry fee) 12 noon – Seminar: “Setting up a Successful Decoy Spread” by Deadly Decoys.
1 pm – CA State Speck
2:30 pm – CA State Two Man Meat. Duck 2 team limit per person.

Sponsors: Colusa Casino Resort, Browning, Merlo Waterfowl Company, Hevi-Shot, J.J. Lares Championship Calls, California Waterfowl, Fish Dog Ben Williams Outdoors, Mariani, Sitka, Tanglefree,

Some Promising Sac Kings

A chrome king  caught on salmon  eggs cured with new Liquid Egg Brine from Pro-Cure in the "redd" hot color. (MSJ GUIDE SERVICE)

A chrome king caught on salmon eggs cured with new Liquid Egg Brine from Pro-Cure in the “redd” hot color. (MSJ GUIDE SERVICE)


Low water levels and high surface temps on Northern California rivers like the Feather are a concern, but for now king salmon fishing is an option on the Sacramento. Friend of the blog/magazine Manuel Saldana Jr. of MSJ Guide Service reports some early success with the hope for even better fishing as fall approaches.


A 20-pound king caught on a Killer Brad K16. (MSJ GUIDE SERVICE)

A 20-pound king caught on a Killer Brad K16. (MSJ GUIDE SERVICE)



Caples Lake Catches

Alex Patz and his trout. (CAPLES LAKE RESORT)

Alex Patz and his trout. (CAPLES LAKE RESORT)

From Caples Lake Resort 

Another 3-pound rainbow, caught August 23 by Alex Patz from Oakland, on a crawler behind flashers trolling behind a kayak at the Caples lake spillway.

Cole and Jason Taira were fishing when they caught this big trout. (CAPLES LAKE RESORT)

Cole and Jason Taira were fishing when they caught this big trout. (CAPLES LAKE RESORT)

This 4-pound trophy German brown trout was caught on August 22 by Sacramento residents Jason & Cole Taira in a Caples Lake Resort rental boat using night crawlers.

Water temperature is still 67 but should start to cool down as the weather change comes in next week.

Happy Catching!

Caples Lake Resort




The Wolves Are Here


CDFW photos

Where there’s one wolf there are bound to be more, an entire family actually. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s trail cam shot above shows what appears to be a family of five pups and other shots of individual adults. These wolves are now being called the Shasta Pack (which one is Peter Lawford?).






The Sacramento Bee has a full report, and here’s the CDFW’s release:


The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has photographic evidence of five gray wolf pups and two adults in Northern California.

After trail cameras recorded a lone canid in May and July, CDFW deployed additional cameras, one of which took multiple photos showing five pups, which appear to be a few months old and others showing individual adults. Because of the proximity to the original camera locations, it is likely the adult previously photographed in May and July is associated with the group of pups.

“This news is exciting for California,” said Charlton H. Bonham, CDFW Director. “We knew wolves would eventually return home to the state and it appears now is the time.”

CDFW has designated this group (comprised of two adults and five pups) the Shasta Pack.

Wild wolves historically inhabited California, but were extirpated. Aside from these wolves and the famous wolf OR7 who entered California in December 2011, the last confirmed wolf in the state was here in 1924. OR7 has not been in California for more than a year and is currently the breeding male of the Rogue Pack in southern Oregon.

n June 2014, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to list gray wolves as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act. The gray wolf is also listed as endangered in California, under the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973. Gray wolves that enter California are therefore protected by the ESA making it illegal to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect wolves, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct in California.

CDFW is completing a Draft Wolf Management Plan and will release it soon. Throughout the plan’s development, CDFW has held numerous meetings with stakeholders. Currently, CDFW is incorporating comments from a stakeholder advisory group, and considering revisions due to implications of this news, before releasing the draft plan to the general public. Public meetings will be scheduled to receive public comment on the draft plan.

In addition to the trail cameras, CDFW relies on help from the public to glean information about wolves in California. The public can report wolf sightings on CDFW gray wolf website atwww.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Mammals/Gray-Wolf/Sighting-Report.

Though wolves rarely pose a direct threat to human safety, CDFW recommends that people never approach, feed or otherwise disturb a wolf. For more information about staying safe in wolf-occupied areas, including what people should do if they encounter a wolf, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Mammals/Gray-Wolf/FAQ.


Photo courtesy of San Diego Sportfishing

Photo courtesy of San Diego Sportfishing


The following report was written by San Diego Sportfishing:


An army of volunteers began arriving at sunup at Shelter Island pier in Point Loma on Saturday, August 8th.  San Diego Sportfishing Council event coordinator Vic Gamboa led the team of volunteers provided by International Game Fish Association (IGFA), San Diego Rod & Reel Club, San Diego Anglers, UPSAC and San Diego Fly Fishers. Staging for free 13th Annual Young Angler Tournament went quickly as the team performed like a well-oiled machine.

Registration of the 150 participating young anglers went quickly and each angler was provided a “goodie” bag with T-Shirts, hats, terminal tackle and other promotional items.   At 8:30 AM John Campbell, the event MC flipped the switch on his megaphone and welcomed the junior anglers ages six through 15 and their parents and signaled the start of the tournament.  Children and parents alike dashed to their preferred spots on the pier. Bags of cut bait prepared earlier were opened and hooks baited. Throughout the morning judges rushed to lucky anglers with fish to mark their scorecard and assist with the release of the fish calling for the photographer to record events.

Mid-morning, Tommy Gomes, Catalina Offshore Products and his team began serving his famous fish tacos, each with a big smile and comment. Soon there was a steady stream of anglers and parents for the free lunch of tacos or hotdogs donated by Stump’s Village Market of Rancho Santa Fe plus all the fixings and drinks.

All morning Michael Farrior, I.G.F.A. Trustee and his wife Susan visited with the children and parents. CA Fish & Game had set up informational display and provided fish identification materials, Fish & Game regulations and measuring rulers which identified the legal length of various fish species.

At 12 noon M.C. John Campbell declared lines out and the process began to determine the winner in each age category between six and 15. Winners were scored on a point system to allow for catch and release. There was one winner in each age category between six and 15.

All winners received a rod and reel combo from OKUMA Fishing Tackle, fishing trips, whale watching trips or tickets to other San Diego attractions and an official gold embossed IGFA certificate.

Winners in each category were:

Age 6 Duke Kuahi- San Diego
Age 7 Jake Marzi- Winchester, CA
Age 8 – We had a tie – Fernando Vasquez & Abel Yano- both from Chula Vista
Age 9 Aryana Padilla- San Diego
Age 10 Ethan Mayes- San Diego
Age 11 Andrew Padilla- San Diego
Age 12 Brayan Lopez- Vista
Age 13 Seth Mose- Imperial Beach
Age 14  Luke  Daigle- San Diego
Age 15 Thomas Orozco- Union City

Overall tournament winner was 10 year old Ethan Mayes of San Diego who won the coveted top spot with multiple catches of bass and sculpin. He was awarded a custom carved bone and Hawaiian shell necklace by Carver Bob Cox and will have his name added to the perpetual trophy provided by sculptor David Wirth.

Sponsors of the Young Anglers Tournament include Port of San Diego, IGFA, OKUMA Fishing Tackle, Anglers Distributing, Anglers Arsenal, Friends of Rollo, H&M Landing, Point Loma Sportfishing, Fisherman’s Landing & Tackle Shop, Everingham Bait Company, Queasy Pops, Promar\Ahi, Big Hammer Lures, Costa Sunglasses, Fathom Bistro & Tackle Shop at Shelter Island Pier, Stumps Market, Catalina Offshore Products, Specialty Produce and Squidco. Prizes for the tournament included rods and reels, hats, T-shirts, and fishing gear and deep sea fishing trips. Loaner Gear, Bait, and terminal tackle were provided by Okuma Fishing Tackle, Anglers Distributing, and Friends of Rollo.

The San Diego Sportfishing Council is California non-profit corporation established in 1979 to promote San Diego fishing as an attractive marine recreational activity, to increase awareness and availability of “how, when and where” information on sportfishing opportunities. The San Diego Sportfishing Council produces the annual Day At The Docks event each April and coordinates a Partnership in Education with area schools which provides free fishing trips to groups of students and chaperones throughout the school year.

For more information, please call the San Diego Sportfishing Council at (619) 234-8793 or log onto the website at: www.sportfishing.org


NorCal Fires Spread Into Napa County, Force Evacuations


Add Napa County to the Northern California areas that are being terrorized by the Rocky Fire and the nearby Jerusalem Fire. Lake County, right around Clear Lake, had been taking the brunt of the massive Rocky Fire.

From the San Francisco Chronicle’s website:

More than 2,000 firefighters continued to battle the Jerusalem Fire, which grew to 23,500 acres overnight and was 33 percent contained as of Thursday morning, officials said.

The blaze spread 3,000 acres overnight, but firefighters made progress, boosting containment of the fire from just 6 percent on Wednesday.

“While we did see fire activity last night, our crews made significant progress yesterday in building containment line around the Jerusalem Fire,” saidDaniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The fire, which is burning in rugged countryside and is now in both Lake and Napa counties, began on Sunday and its cause is still under investigation. More than a hundred residents from the Jerusalem Valley area have been evacuated. An evacuation center had been set up at Kelseyville High School.

Berlant, however, noted that windy conditions would continue to make the fight challenging.

Our thoughts are with the firefighters battling the blazes and those in the path of the fires.



Big Rainbow Caught At Caples Lake

3 lb Rainbow 8.12.15


From Caples Lake Resort:


This 3-pound trophy rainbow trout was caught by Sacramento resident Don Lewis, trolling with a florescent white and red Needlefish in 22 feet of water in the middle of Caples Lake.

Don also hooked a “big” Mackinaw using a Kastmaster, but it was unfortunately lost getting it into the boat.

The lake level is only 4 feet down from 100 percent capacity, incredible news in this drought year. El Dorado Irrigation District (EID) increased the outflow on August 10 from 13 to 50 cfs which results in a decrease in lake level of 2 inches per day.

Fishing is picking up again here at Caples Lake so reserve your cabin or lodge room now and take advantage of our midweek rates starting on Monday August 24 (open until October 19).

Guest docking is available for our cabin or lodge guests.

The Store and Marina are open daily from  8 a.m. – 5 p.m. with 12-foot to 14-foot  Gregor aluminum fishing boats with 8HP Hondas for only $55/$65 (half day rental) and eight single kayaks/eight double kayaks for only $20 to $25 (two-hour rental).

Caples Lake Resort



Recreational Pacific Halibut Fishing Closing Aug. 13

From the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:


The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announces the recreational Pacific halibut fishery will close Thursday, Aug. 13 at 12:01 a.m. for the remainder of 2015. The last full day of Pacific halibut fishing will be Wednesday, Aug. 12.

A technician with the California Recreational Fisheries Survey measures a Pacific halibut.
A technician with the California Recreational Fisheries Survey measures a Pacific halibut.

Based on the latest catch projections, CDFW expects the 2015 quota of 25,220 pounds will be exceeded unless the fishery is closed. Authority to close the fishery resides with the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which took action to close the fishery following consultation with CDFW.

Although poor weather limited fishing following the May 1 opener, excellent ocean conditions during the July 1-15 open period resulted in record Pacific halibut catch rates for California.

California’s recreational quota and season dates for 2015 were the result of negotiations with anglers, the fishing industry, local community leaders and other state and federal partners.  Beginning in 2015, CDFW committed to tracking the fishery during the season to ensure catch amounts would not exceed the California quota. The quota amount is determined annually, and is largely driven by results from the annual stock assessment conducted by the 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. In recent years, catches in northern California have increased, consistent with a general shift of the stock to the south and east.

CDFW field staff sampled public launch ramps and charter boat landings to monitor catches of Pacific halibut along with other marine sportfish throughout the season. Using this information, CDFW conferred with NMFS and IPHC on a weekly basis to review projected catch amounts and determine when the quota would be attained.

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