Category Archives: Sport Fishing

Annual General Trout Opener Coming Soon in the Eastern Sierra

The general trout opener in many counties throughout California will commence on April 26, one hour before sunrise.

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Because of the popularity of this annual event with the angling public, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is making every effort to stock trout in all accessible waters approved for planting prior to the season opener. Lingering winter conditions and this year’s unprecedented drought could play a major role in how many rivers, creeks, lakes and reservoirs can be stocked before April 26.

Most lakes, rivers and streams have a limit of five trout per day and 10 in possession. However, regulations differ on season opening and closing dates, bag limits, minimum and maximum size limits and gear restrictions.

Anglers are advised to check specific area regulations and opening dates in the 2014/15 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulation booklet, found online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations, for regulations specific to each body of water.

In 2012, CDFW regional staff created the Eastern Sierra Back Country Fishing Guide to provide anglers with a quick, informative and accurate account of the distribution of fisheries in back country high elevation lakes. This guide does not address front country waters, defined as lakes and streams that are accessible by vehicle. Most of the lakes lie within U.S. Forest Service lands managed as Wilderness and usually require back country permits for overnight use. Most back country fisheries are based on self-sustaining populations of trout and do not need regular trout stocking to maintain fish populations. The guide can be found at http://dfg.ca.gov/regions/6/

Crowley Lake in the Eastern Sierra is expected to be one of the most popular opening day destinations for anglers from around the state. In past years, an estimated 10,000 anglers have turned out for the opener, and approximately 50,000 trout are caught during the first week of the season. Typically Crowley is planted with hundreds of thousands of small and medium sized trout, and because of excellent food sources in the 5,280-acre reservoir, these trout grow to catchable sizes and weigh at least three-quarters of a pound by the opener. About 10 percent of the trout caught at Crowley during opening weekend weigh over a pound and a half. These fish are from stocks planted in previous years or are wild fish produced in Crowley’s tributary waters.

Anglers are asked to be particularly vigilant when cleaning fish and fishing gear at Crowley Lake and in the upper and lower Owens River Drainage. The New Zealand Mudsnail was discovered several years ago in the Owens River Drainage, and CDFW would like to prevent the snail from spreading into other waters. To avoid spreading New Zealand Mudsnails and other aquatic invasive species to other waters, anglers are advised dispose of their fish guts in bear-proof trash cans, rather than throw them back into the water. Wading gear should be properly cleaned before using in new waters.

All persons age 16 and older must possess a valid California fishing license to fish within state lines. Freshwater fishing licenses can be purchased online at www.dfg.ca.gov/onlinesales or at regional CDFW offices or other license agents. Anglers no longer have to display their license visibly above the waist but they must have it in their possession while fishing.

Media Contacts:            
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944
James Erdman, Environmental Scientist, (760) 873-6071

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Nimbus Hatchery to Host Speaker Series

Media Contacts:

Laura Drath, CDFW Interpretive Services, (916) 358-2884
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

The public is invited to attend a presentation on the effects of the ongoing drought on salmon and steelhead trout in the American River. The event will be held at the Nimbus Hatchery Visitor Center in Rancho Cordova on May 3 at 11 a.m. It is the first of three planned speaker sessions at Nimbus Hatchery Visitor Center this spring.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Senior Environmental Scientist Rob Titus will address the state of the salmon and steelhead runs and the challenges the drought poses to their survival. Titus will also outline actions CDFW is taking to protect these fish and increase their survival rates. Forest Williams of the Sacramento County Water Agency will then describe ways the public can reduce water use and lessen human impact on the river. Both speakers will field questions from the audience.

The event is free and preregistration is not required. Future sessions in the speaker series will include Climate Change and its Effects on Salmon and Steelhead in June and Fishing the American River in July.

Nimbus Hatchery is located at 2001 Nimbus Road in Rancho Cordova. The hatchery offers hands-on exhibits, a river bluff trail, a play area for children and opportunities to feed fish. It is open daily to the public free of charge from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends.

For more information about the speaker series, please call (916) 358-2884 or visit the hatchery online at www.facebook.com/NimbusHatchery.

 

CDFW Trucks Salmon Smolts to the Golden Gate to Help them Avoid Predators

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) biologists and the Commercial Salmon Trollers Advisory Committee are continuing an experimental project to help California’s ocean-bound juvenile salmon, in hopes of increasing survival rates. On April 8, for the third year, CDFW staff will fill a boat with approximately 100,000 young Chinook (called smolts) and move it down the Sacramento River to San Francisco Bay. Upon arrival, the smolts will be released in the Bay, where they will swim into the sea and grow to adulthood before returning upriver to spawn.

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The experimental project is being conducted by CDFW fisheries biologists with the support of the Commercial Salmon Trollers Advisory Committee, which donated the use of the boat, fuel and crew time to help ensure a successful start to the study. They have committed to helping CDFW continue data collection. The fishing vessel Merva W will receive 100,000 smolts into its hold in Rio Vista on the Sacramento River the morning of April 8.

This year’s severe drought has only exacerbated the number of challenges facing salmon smolts migrating downstream. Salmon return to their spawning grounds using their sense of smell. The process, called imprinting, begins before birth as waters flow over the eggs and continues as they grow and make their way to the ocean. Each segment of water on their journey has distinctive chemical cues which they can re-trace to their spawning grounds. Water is circulated through pumps from the Sacramento River into the Merva W ‘s holding tank, where the fish are kept. The hope is that this may improve their ability to find their way back as adults. The trucking process also prevents that smolts from exposure to predators during the journey downstream.

This is the third year of a three-year experimental project to determine if barging improves smolt survival. Data collected over the next few years will be evaluated to determine if these fish had higher survival rates, if more of these fish make it back to the hatchery of origin and how this release strategy differs from others currently being used.

To form a basis of comparison for the experimental project, two other control groups of 100,000 smolts each will be released by trucks in other locations at the same time as the barge release — one under the Golden Gate Bridge and one into the Sacramento River near Rio Vista. All 300,000 fish in this experimental project are implanted with coded wire tags smaller than a tiny piece of pencil lead, which will ultimately enable scientists to tell which of the three groups the returning fish came from — the barge release, or one of the two truck releases.

Data collected from this experiment will help scientists to evaluate the efficiency of barging when compared to other release strategies, as well as to determine which group has better survival rates  and how quickly the fish make it back to their natal hatcheries (improved stray rates).

The city of Rio Vista and the Tiburon Salmon Institute at the Romberg Center are providing access for the transport boat and fish trucks.

Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944
Bill Smith, Hatchery Manager, (209) 759-3383

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Anglers Urged to Return Fish Tags in Timely Manner

North coast steelhead and salmon anglers are reminded to return fish tags to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) in a timely manner. Tag return information is a vital tool for biologists as they calculate harvest and estimate population size of Chinook, coho and steelhead runs.

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“We’ve had people send us huge envelopes with several years’ worth of tags, but the information is only useful in the same season the fish are caught, ” said Mary Claire Kier, CDFW Trinity River Project Environmental Scientist. “We need anglers to send in their tags right away, before they get lost or forgotten in tackle boxes or pockets of fishing vests.”

Please return all Trinity River fish tags, by mail or in person, to:

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

A tag return form can be found online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Fishing/Monitoring/FTag/.  Anglers can also simply send the tags wrapped in or taped to a piece of paper with their name, address, date and location that the fish was caught or the tag was found. Please specify if the fish was caught live or found dead, or if the tag was found loose. If the tag was found on a caught fish, please note whether the fish was kept or released.

If the tag is being returned by mail, please cut the knot off of the tag as the knot can cause the envelope to catch in the postal sorting equipment.

Media Contacts:
Mary Claire Kier, CDFW Trinity River Project, (707) 822-5876  
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

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Warm Springs Hatchery Begins Spawning Operation for Russian River Steelhead

Ninety-six Russian River steelhead were spawned Feb. 20 at Warm Springs Hatchery, marking a strong but late start for the hatchery’s annual steelhead spawning operation.

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The Russian River and its tributaries comprise one of the most significant steelhead populations in the Central Coast area of California. The Russian River watershed also provides important habitat for endangered Coho and Chinook salmon. Although steelhead normally begin entering the river with the first heavy rains in the fall and can be found throughout the river and its tributaries through April, this year little rain fell from November through the first week in February, creating extremely low river conditions and few opportunities for steelhead to move into and up the river system.

Low water conditions in January also allowed the naturally occurring sandbar to form at the mouth of the river, blocking the migration of steelhead.

“Once the first rains hit in February, the sandbar blocking the mouth of the river washed out, allowing the steelhead to move in from the ocean into the river system,” said Brett Wilson, Senior Hatchery Supervisor for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). “Based on what we are seeing right now, we should be able to meet our goal of taking enough eggs to rear a half million young steelhead for release into the Russian River.”

Emergency regulations that went into effect Feb. 19 closed most of the Russian River to fishing, adding extra protection for migrating steelhead and salmon.

March is an excellent time to visit the hatchery and view the steelhead moving through the concrete fish ladder into the restored stream habitat leading to the hatchery. A visitor viewing area also provides excellent photographic opportunity.

“The new restoration stream habitat just outside the hatchery intake gives visitors a chance to see steelhead up close and in native type of habitat,” Wilson said.

Warm Springs Hatchery is the end of a lengthy migration for the hatchery produced steelhead. From the Pacific Ocean, they enter the Russian River at Jenner and travel 40 miles upriver to Dry Creek near Healdsburg before following the stream 14 more miles west to the hatchery. Steelhead are also spawned at Coyote Valley Fish Facility on the East Fork of the Russian below Lake Mendocino.

The steelhead are generally held captive one week before the eggs are artificially taken. Spawning is open to the public and occurs throughout the entire season on most Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. The steelhead eggs spawned at the Hatchery and the Coyote Valley Fish Facility are incubated, hatched and reared at the hatchery for one year before they are released back into the Russian River to begin their migration to the sea.

Warm Springs Hatchery is located just below Warm Springs Dam on Lake Sonoma, approximately 14 miles above the confluence of Dry Creek with the Russian River at an elevation of 322 feet. The hatchery began operation in 1980 and is designed to produce a maximum of 161,300 pounds of salmonid fish annually. Although the hatchery is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), it is operated by CDFW. CDFW also operates the Coyote Valley Fish Facility for trapping and spawning adult steelhead and imprinting steelhead destined for release in the Russian River. The Coyote Valley Fish Facility is located upstream on the east branch of the Russian River near the town of Ukiah.

Warm Springs Hatchery is a mitigation hatchery that produces steelhead to enhance the river’s natural steelhead population required due to the loss of natural spawning and rearing habitat associated with the construction of the Warm Springs and Coyote Valley dams. The mitigating agency is the USACE. The Warm Springs Hatchery is also home to the Coho Salmon Broodstock Program, which produces coho for release to 21 tributaries of the Russian River as part of a multi-agency recovery effort for this endangered species.

Media Contact:
Brett Wilson, Senior Hatchery Supervisor, (707) 433-6325
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

Steelhead swimming upstream to Warm Springs Hatchery
Steelhead swimming upstream to Warm Springs Hatchery

Emergency Regulations to Close Angling Now In Effect

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

The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) this week approved emergency regulations adopted by the California Fish and Game Commission on Feb. 5 to close some waters to angling in response to severe drought conditions throughout the state.

The following closures are now in effect:

  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.  CDFW has the authority under Title 14, Article 4, Section 8,7.50 (b)(5)(a-c).
  2. Closure of the Russian River main stem below the confluence of the East Branch of the Russian River until April 30. CDFW has the authority under Title 14, Article 4, Section 8, 7.50(b)(155)(a).
  3. Extension of the low flow restrictions angling closures for the north coast and central coast areas (above San Francisco Bay) until April 30.
  4. In the South Coast District (i.e., San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties), close all portions of any coastal stream west of any Highway 1 bridge until April 30.

The above regulatory actions were approved by OAL and became effective Feb. 19. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) learned about OAL’s approval today.

Also, 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. These closures are within CDFW’s authority under Title 14 and did not need Commission adoption.

A map of the closures can be found here: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/biogeodata/gis/fishing_closures.asp

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 waters are closed to angling until March 7 or until stream flows are sufficient to allow fish passage for returning adult steelhead and salmon. To determine whether or not these waters are open to fishing, please call the south central coast closure hotline at (831) 649-2886:

  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 when it determines that the flow at any of the designated gauging stations is less than minimum flows stated in regulation through January 31. Today’s OAL approval extends the end date of that authority to April 30. As a result, the following north coast streams will be subject to angling closures until April 30. To determine whether or not these waters are open to fishing, please call the north coast closure hotline at (707) 822-3164:

  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.

Under Title 14, Article 4, Section 8.00(b) the following central coast streams are subject to angling closures through April 1. Today’s OAL approval extends that end date to April 30. To determine whether or not these waters are open to fishing, please call the central coast closure hotline at (707) 944-5533:

  1. Sonoma Creek (Sonoma County), and all streams tributary to the Pacific Ocean (and its bay) in Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin counties, except the Russian River.
  2. Napa River (Napa County) between Trancas Avenue in Napa and Oakville Cross Bridge near Yountville.

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

CDFW low flow closure hotlines:

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

CDFW to Host Public Meeting on Ocean Salmon Fisheries

The Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites the public to attend its upcoming annual ocean salmon information meeting. A review of last year’s ocean salmon fisheries and spawning escapement will be presented, in addition to the outlook for this year’s sport and commercial ocean salmon fisheries.

The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sonoma County Water Agency, 404 Aviation Blvd. in Santa Rosa.

The public is encouraged to provide input on potential fishing seasons to a panel of California salmon scientists, managers and representatives who will be directly involved in the upcoming Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) meetings in March and April.

Salmon fishing seasons are developed through a collaborative process involving the PFMC, the California Fish and Game Commission and the National Marine Fisheries Service. Public input will help California representatives negotiate a broad range of season alternatives during the PFMC March 8-13 meeting in Sacramento, California.

The 2014 ocean salmon information meeting marks the beginning of a two-month long public process used to establish annual sport and commercial ocean salmon seasons. A list of additional meetings and other opportunities for public comment is available on the ocean salmon webpage at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/salmonpreseason.asp.

The meeting agenda and handouts will be posted online as soon as they become available.

Media Contacts:
Erick Anderson, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2879
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Chinook salmon taken by an ocean sport angler near Trinidad, CA. Photo by Mark Scatchard (CDFW).
Chinook salmon taken by an ocean sport angler near Trinidad, CA. Photo by Mark Scatchard (CDFW).

New Tagging Requirements for California Sturgeon Anglers

Media Contact: Lt. Patrick Foy, 916-508-7095

California sturgeon anglers will see a small change to sturgeon tags issued beginning Jan. 1, 2014. Sturgeon anglers have been required to tag all retained legal sized sturgeon for many years. In the past, the date, location and length of the fish caught were recorded on each tag. Now, in addition to legibly and permanently writing the date, time, location and length, the new tags require the angler to physically punch out the date and month printed on each tag.

The bag limit for sturgeon remains at one per day and up to three sturgeon per year. Failure to attach a properly filled out tag to a retained sturgeon is a misdemeanor violation.  The California Fish and Game Commission passed the regulation change on Oct. 2, 2013. Changes were approved by the Office of Administrative Law then filed with the Secretary of State on Dec. 23, 2013.

Sacramento Family Faces Felony Charges for Selling Sport Caught Fish

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers arrested a Sacramento family of three early Saturday morning for illegally selling sport-caught fish from the Delta.

Luan Van Dao, 51, his wife Mung Thi Bui, 49, and their son Tuan Anh Dao, 29 were arrested by CDFW officers after more than a month of watching the family fish daily in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and hide their fish in a hidden compartment aboard their boat. The suspects also appeared to have an established network of buyers to whom they would sell fish on a regular basis. In California, commercial fishermen are permitted to sell their catch directly to restaurants, but private or sport-fishing catch is illegal to resell.

Luan Van Dao and Mung Thi Bui were convicted of poaching fish in 2006. During the current investigation Tuan Anh Dao was cited for possession of an oversized sturgeon on Nov. 16.

“Convicted poachers who continue to sell California’s fish and wildlife for personal profit are a wildlife officer’s highest priority,” said CDFW Law Enforcement Division Captain Rudy Arruda. “These poachers are taking away from the legal and legitimate anglers.”

All three suspects face charges of felony conspiracy and illegal sale of sport-caught fish. If convicted the suspects could face jail time, significant fines, loss of their fishing licenses and other penalties. ­

Charges will be filed with the Yolo County District Attorney when the investigation is complete.

Media Advisory: Photos and video can be downloaded at ftp://ftp.dfg.ca.gov/OCEO/ 

Media Contact:        
Lt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095

Packaged fish for sale

Poachers Sentenced to Hard Labor Program in Southern California

Four men have been sentenced in Riverside Superior Court for illegally catching more than 200 fish in a private community lake.

The four men, Antonio Palacios, 32 and Sandoval Palacios, 24, both of Los Angeles, Santos Sandoval, 40, of Torrance and Najera Sandoval, 25, of Compton all pled guilty to one misdemeanor Fish and Game Code violation of unlawful possession. They were each ordered to serve 30 days in Riverside County Sheriff’s Office alternative sentencing hard labor program and three years of probation. They were also ordered to pay fines totaling $410 and they cannot obtain a fishing license or fish.

In July 2013, all were originally charged with fishing without a license, possession of illegal fishing gear, over limit of sunfish, over limit of bass and possession of short fish.

“I hope this sentencing sends a message to individuals who blatantly break the law with no respect for sportsmen who obey the rules and respect the outdoors,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Warden Dustin Holyoak. “The state’s natural resources deserve to be respected for everyone to enjoy for generations to come.”

In June 2013, CDFW officers received an anonymous tip that these four men were using gill nets to take fish from a remote area of Canyon Lake. Gill and throw nets are illegal to possess within 100 yards of any inland body of water in the state.

The wardens contacted the fishermen as they were leaving the water with the nets and seized one gill net, one throw net and 238 fish, including 29 carp, 126 sunfish and 83 bass, of which 74 were undersized.

All the seized fish were dead and could not be returned to the water.

Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

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