Good News for Duck Hunters: Season Extends to Jan. 31, 2020, in Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin and Southern California Zones

California’s 2019-20 duck season will be extended five additional days this season, closing on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, at the end of legal shooting hours in the Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin and Southern California zones that cover most of the state.

The California Fish and Game Commission last April unanimously approved Jan. 31, 2020, as the duck season end date for the three zones as opposed to the traditional closure the last Sunday in January. The five additional days are intended to provide more hunter opportunity at the end of the season when waterfowl hunting is often at its best.

The extended season maximizes duck hunting opportunity while staying within the federal waterfowl management regulatory framework. It also provides incentive to keep managed wetlands flooded for just a bit longer to the benefit of waterfowl and a host of other wetland species.

State-operated wildlife areas will be open for hunting on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, to accommodate the extended season.

The extension does not include goose hunting in the Balance of State Zone, which means the regular season for dark and white geese will close Sunday, Jan. 26, at the end of legal shooting hours. The waterfowl season in the Southern San Joaquin and Southern California zones will extend to Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, for both ducks and geese. A map of California’s waterfowl zones is available on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website.

A late season goose hunt for white-fronted and white geese will open Saturday, Feb. 8 in the Balance of State Zone and extend for five days, ending Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, except in the Sacramento Valley Special Management Area where the white-fronted goose season will remain closed.

California’s Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days, open to those possessing a valid Junior Hunting License and Harvest Information Program validation, will take place Saturday, Feb. 8 and Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in the Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California zones.

Several – but not all – state-operated wildlife areas will be open to accommodate youth hunters that weekend. Federal regulations require that hunters must be 17 years of age or younger and must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult 18 years of age or older. A Federal Duck Stamp or E-Stamp is required for hunters 16 years of age and older. Daily bag and possession limits apply along with all other waterfowl regulations for the 2019-20 waterfowl season. The regulations are available on CDFW’s Waterfowl Hunting web page.

Media Contact:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

End of Drought Brings Stocked Trout Back to Crystal Lake

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has once again stocked Crystal Lake in Los Angeles County with rainbow trout, restoring angling opportunities after several years. CDFW stopped stocking this popular fishing area because years of drought led to low lake levels and poor water quality.

“It’s exciting to be able to bring back this opportunity for anglers in the San Gabriel Mountains,” said Inland Fisheries Environmental Scientist Jennifer Pareti. “Prior to the drought, Crystal Lake was stocked by CDFW for more than 70 years. People often share with me their memories of catching fish as kids at Crystal Lake.”

Pareti said recent rainfall, along with efforts by Angeles National Forest to improve the lake’s water quality and habitat, were major factors in the decision to stock the lake again. The fish were supplied by CDFW’s Mojave River Hatchery in San Bernardino County.

“Crystal Lake is a wonderful gem for Los Angeles County. It offers a great opportunity for people to enjoy our local forest and fish this natural lake,” Pareti said.

Media Contacts:
Jennifer Pareti, CDFW Inland Fisheries Program, (562) 342-7173
Tim Daly, CDFW Communications, (916) 201-2958

Northern Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Will Open Dec. 31

The commercial Dungeness crab season in Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties is scheduled to open at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019, to be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Dec. 28, 2019.

Delays due to quality only affect the Dungeness crab fishery in this area (Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9). Dungeness crab quality test results from Dec. 17, 2019 met the minimum guidelines established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee. Director Charlton H. Bonham had announced a delay to Dec. 31 based on the last round of tests conducted on Dec. 3, 2019, but with these new results no additional delay is warranted. Tri-State managers met this morning to determine that their respective Dungeness crab fisheries would open coastwide within the Tri-State region on Dec. 31, 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 through Dec. 30). 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. Permitted vessels that have already participated in the Dec. 15 opener south of the Sonoma-Mendocino county line would not be able to set gear in Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties until 12:01 am Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. This applies to any delayed areas in Oregon and Washington as well. For more information, please see CDFW’s Frequently Asked Questions regarding the 2019-2020 Dungeness crab commercial season.

To help minimize the risk of whale and sea turtle entanglement in trap gear, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife recommends implementation of Best Fishing Practices developed by the Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group. This includes following guidance on surface-gear set-up, reducing excess line, using neutral buoyancy line and minimizing knots and lead.

For more information on Dungeness crab, please visit:
www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Whale-Safe-Fisheries and www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab.

Media Contacts:
Christy Juhasz, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2887
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

 

Invasive Snails Found in Santa Ana River and Bear Creek

Anglers, Residents and Visitors Urged to Help Prevent Further Spread

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has confirmed the presence of New Zealand mudsnail (NZMS) within San Bernardino County. The invasive snails were found in both the Santa Ana River and designated wild trout stream of Bear Creek within the greater Santa Ana River Watershed.

Despite their small size, NZMS is a highly problematic aquatic species. At only 4 to 6 millimeters in length on average, dense populations of NZMS can displace and outcompete native species, sometimes by consuming up to half the food resources in a waterway that native insects and fishes would eat. The snails have been linked to reducing populations of aquatic insects, including mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies, chironomids and other insect groups upon which trout and other organisms depend.

CDFW urges anglers, boaters, visitors and locals to “clean, drain and dry” all recreational items and fishing gear, which generally means anything that has gotten wet. It is important to leave any stream water, debris and organic plant matter at a recreational site in order to prevent the further spread of the snails. Once NZMS is established in a new habitat, it is impossible to eradicate it without damaging other components of the ecosystem. Boaters, anglers and others who may visit any body of water, within or outside of infested areas, are asked to decontaminate their equipment and follow the “clean, drain and dry” best practices for all equipment and clothing used in a waterway:

  • If you wade, freeze waders, wading boots and other gear overnight (at least six hours, though 24 hours is recommended).
  • After leaving the water, inspect waders, boots, float tubes, paddleboards, kayaks or any gear used in the water. Leave all water and debris at the site that you exited.
  • Additionally, remove any visible snails with a stiff brush, clean off soils and organic material, and follow this by rinsing at the site, preferably with high-pressure hot water.
  • It is critical to completely dry out gear for a minimum of 24 hours.
  • Never transport live fish or other aquatic plants or animals from one body of water to another.
  • An informational flier on the “clean, drain and dry” directive is available for download on CDFW’s website.

The Santa Ana River is the largest river completely in Southern California. Its flow begins in the San Bernardino mountains and concludes at the ocean in Huntington Beach. Bear Creek begins at Big Bear Lake and connects with the Santa Ana River in the mountains. The Santa Ana River watershed has a drainage basin size of 2,650 square miles, is home to 4.5 million people, and is popular among recreationalists and fishermen.

To date, NZMS has been identified in over 17 bodies of waters in the coastal Southern California counties of Ventura, Los Angeles, and Orange, including Lower Santa Ana River. NZMS-positive lakes and streams in the Eastern Sierra are in Inyo and Mono counties – Diaz Lake (Inyo), Pleasant Valley Reservoir (Inyo), Tinnemaha Reservoir (Inyo), Lone Pine Creek (Inyo), Lower Bishop Creek (Inyo), Bishop Creek (Inyo), Bishop Creek Canal (Inyo) and Los Angeles Aqueduct (Inyo); Owens River (Mono and Inyo); Upper Owens River (Mono), Hot Creek (Mono), Rush Creek below Grant Lake Dam (Mono) and Crowley Lake (Mono).

CDFW has launched public outreach and education efforts to discuss NZMS in San Bernardino County with local water districts, federal and state agencies, non-profit fisheries partners and fly fishing clubs. Greater outreach efforts will occur in the next few months and into the spring, including posting NZMS signage at Bear Creek angler survey boxes and at other water access points along the Santa Ana River.

For more information on NZMS , please visit the Invasive Species page on CDFW’s website. The U.S. Geological Survey’s website also features an interactive map showing the current distribution of NZMS  in California and throughout the U.S.

Media Contacts:
Jennifer E. Hemmert, CDFW Inland Deserts Region, (951) 634-8793
Tim Daly, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

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Little North Fork of the Navarro River, Mendocino County.

CDFW Awards $10.1 Million for Fisheries Habitat Restoration and Forest Legacy Projects

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of 31 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 $10.1 million, are distributed through CDFW’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP). They include $256,440 allocated for timber legacy restoration projects and approximately $9.8 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 further the restoration of river ecosystems critical to California’s salmon and steelhead,” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said. “Several of this year’s projects incorporate process-based restoration to address the root of ecological degradation and benefits all species using the waterway, including salmonids.”

In response to the 2019 Fisheries Habitat Restoration Grant Solicitation, CDFW received 70 proposals requesting more than $38 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 31 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 web page.

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Media Contacts:
Matt Wells, CDFW Watershed Restoration Grants Branch, (916) 445-1285
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988