Tag Archives: fishing

Anglers Encouraged to Return Sturgeon Tags for Recognition and Monetary Reward

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed its annual sturgeon tagging program, catching and releasing nearly 400 sturgeon in Bay Area waters.  Many of the tags are eligible for a reward if returned to CDFW by anglers.

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The tagging operation is used to help manage California’s green and white sturgeon populations. Information received from anglers about tagged sturgeon complements the details submitted on sturgeon fishing report cards as well as data from party boats, creel surveys, surveys for juvenile sturgeon and various special studies.

CDFW offers monetary rewards for the return of certain marked tags. The tags are smaller than a dime and located behind the rear dorsal fin. Anglers who return a tag will also receive a certificate of appreciation from CDFW. Additional information and the form for returning tags can be found on the CDFW website.

“Protecting the white sturgeon fishery and the sturgeon populations requires research, collaboration, adaptive management and enforcement,” said CDFW Program Manager Marty Gingras. “Angler participation is a vital component of the information-gathering process – we rely on them to help us complete the loop.”

Working in Suisun and San Pablo bays from August through October, crews collected information on 18 green sturgeon, tagged 190 white sturgeon, and collected information on 169 white sturgeon that were either too small or too large to tag. In an ongoing collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and a new collaboration with San Francisco Estuary Institute, USFWS staff was also on board CDFW boats to collect various tissues as part of an age-and-growth study and a study monitoring selenium concentrations in white sturgeon.

The Sacramento-San Joaquin river system is the southernmost spawning grounds for both white sturgeon and green sturgeon.  Sturgeon in California can live more than 100 years and weigh over 500 pounds, but anglers most often catch sturgeon 3-4 feet in length.  The sturgeon fishery in California was once closed for decades due to overfishing. Today, commercial harvest of white sturgeon is not allowed, and recreational harvest of white sturgeon is regulated by size limit, daily bag limit and annual bag limit. Green sturgeon is a threatened species and neither commercial nor recreational harvest of those fish is allowed.

Serialized tags are provided with each sturgeon fishing report card to help enforce the bag limits. To enable law enforcement to cross-reference the tag with a particular card, anglers must permanently fix a tag to each kept white sturgeon until the fish is processed for consumption.

Anglers are required to return their 2015 sturgeon fishing report cards by Jan. 31, 2016.

Media Contact:
Marty Gingras, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (209) 234-3486
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Emergency Crab Closure Recommended, Commission to Meet Thursday

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a health advisory warning individuals to avoid eating rock and Dungeness crab due to the detection of high levels of domoic acid. The advisory was followed by a recommendation from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) to the California Fish and Game Commission and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to delay the start of the Dungeness crab season and close the rock crab fishery. These actions would apply to each fishery from the Oregon border to the southern Santa Barbara County line.

The OEHHA recommendation has prompted an emergency meeting of the Commission, which will take place at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 5 (agenda and meeting information). At that time, the Commission will consider voting to delay the opening of the recreational Dungeness crab fishery. The recreational Dungeness crab season is currently scheduled to start Saturday, Nov. 7.

Also based on the recommendation from OEHHA, CDFW will act on its authority to delay the start of the commercial Dungeness crab season. The commercial Dungeness crab season is currently scheduled to start Sunday, Nov. 15 in most of the state.

Similar action will be considered by the Commission and CDFW to close the recreational and commercial rock crab fisheries in the affected area. Both recreational and commercial rock crab seasons are open all year.

“These are incredibly important fisheries to our coastal economies and fresh crab is highly anticipated and widely enjoyed this time of year. Of course, delaying or closing the season is disappointing,” said CDFW Marine Regional Manager Craig Shuman. “But public health and safety is our top priority.”

CDFW, along with the OEHHA and CDPH, has been actively testing crabs since early September. OEHHA announced today that consumption of Dungeness and rock crabs is likely to pose a significant human health risk as a result of high levels of domoic acid. CDFW will continue to coordinate with OEHHA and CDPH to test domoic acid levels in crab along the coast to determine when the fisheries can safely be opened.

Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates and sometimes fish. It causes illness and sometimes death in a variety of birds and marine mammals that consume affected organisms. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and can in some cases be fatal.

Domoic acid is produced from some species of the marine diatom Pseudo-nitzschia. Currently, a massive toxic bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia has developed, significantly impacting marine life along California’s coast. State scientists have been testing crab from eight fishing ports from Morro Bay to Crescent City, and have determined that the neurotoxin has spread throughout the fishery grounds.

Algal blooms are common, but this one is particularly large and persistent. Warmer ocean water temperatures associated with the El Niño event California is experiencing is likely a major contributing factor to the size and persistence of this bloom.

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

Nimbus Hatchery Fish Ladder to Open Nov. 2

The salmon ladder at Nimbus Hatchery in Rancho Cordova will open Monday, Nov. 2, signaling the start of the spawning season on the American River. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) hatchery workers will open the gates in the ladder at 9:30 a.m. and may take more than a half-million eggs during the first week alone in an effort to ensure the successful spawning of the returning fall-run Chinook salmon. 

California is entering what may be a fifth year of unprecedented drought. Because of current river conditions, salmon are returning later in the year than typical. Overall, the fall-run Chinook salmon return numbers are lower than normal. CDFW seeks to match historic hatchery production goals this year, but that may not be possible given the conditions.

“Drought conditions may affect the number of salmon returning to the river to spawn, but hatchery workers will continue to collect eggs throughout the fall with a goal of producing four million salmon fry,” said CDFW Program Manager Dr. Bill Cox. “We are working closely with other federal and state agencies to release cold water into the river system to give salmon the best chance to get up river to the hatchery.”

The three major state-run hatcheries in the Central Valley – the Nimbus Hatchery in Sacramento County, and hatcheries on the Feather River in Butte County and the Mokelumne River in San Joaquin County – will take approximately 24 million eggs over the next two months in order to produce Chinook salmon for release next spring.

Each hatchery has a viewing area where visitors can watch the spawning process. Thousands of schoolchildren tour the Nimbus and Feather River hatcheries each year. The visitors’ center at Nimbus Hatchery includes a playground with replicas of giant salmon that are enjoyed by young and old alike. For more information about spawning schedules and educational opportunities at each hatchery, please visit the CDFW website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/hatcheries.

There are eight state-run salmon and steelhead hatcheries, all of which will participate in the salmon spawning effort. Those hatcheries, along with federally run hatcheries, will be responsible for the release of approximately 40 million juvenile salmon into California waters. These massive spawning efforts were put in place over the last 50 years to offset fish losses caused by dams that block salmon from historic spawning habitat.

Once the young salmon reach 2 to 4 inches in length, one-quarter of the stock will be marked and implanted with coded wire tags prior to release. CDFW biologists use the information from the tags to chart the salmon’s survival, catch and return rates.

Media Contacts:
Laura Drath, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 358-2884
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

CDFW Simplifies Steelhead Report and Restoration Card

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) has simplified its 2016 steelhead report card.

The new card is shorter and easier to fill out. It provides anglers with clear and concise reporting instructions, consolidates location codes and better defines the data being collected.

Major changes to the 2016 card include:

  • A reduction of location codes from 73 to 20
  • The addition of a “did not fish” check box above the reporting section
  • Simplification of report card language
  • Clarification of reporting instructions

The consolidation of location codes benefits the angler by making it easier to identify which location code they are fishing in, while the simplification of language helps anglers more easily determine what data must be recorded and how to comply with the reporting requirement.

The steelhead data collected by anglers is important and aids CDFW in making management decisions, and is used to determine catch trends for specific watersheds. Revenue generated by report card sales is dedicated to steelhead restoration projects which contribute to the conservation and recovery of steelhead populations and benefit both the species and anglers.

Reporting online is preferred as it increases the accuracy of data and reduces data entry and administrative costs, and allows for more funds to be used for statewide steelhead restoration.

For more information regarding the Steelhead Report and Restoration Card Program and how data is utilized, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/steelheadcard. To enter your steelhead report card information online, please login to the CDFW online license sales and service system at https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Online-Sales.

Media Contacts:
Farhat Bajjaliya, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 327-8855
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Quarantined Shasta County Hatchery to Reopen

Darrah Springs Hatchery, operated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), was partially released from quarantine on Oct. 9 after being in quarantine since May because of whirling disease.
Extensive DNA testing of the fish by a commercial sciences lab have determined that all the trout in the hatchery building and the lower rearing ponds are free of the disease and the hatchery is resuming normal operations for that portion of the facility.  
“We were able to save thousands of fish by isolating them from the disease and will be able to grow and plant them into state waters very soon,” said Linda Radford, CDFW Regional Hatchery Supervisor. “Unfortunately part of the hatchery is still infected and we will have to destroy some fish.”
The upper part of the hatchery, located near the town of Paynes Creek, is still infected with the disease; the fish there will be destroyed, recycled and used for pet food and other purposes. The fish rearing areas still infected will be dried up and not utilized until the water supply can be either disinfected through a water treatment system or pathology testing verifies that the water supply no longer is infected.
Approximately 160,000 fish will be euthanized. The disposal of infected hatchery-raised trout is a necessary precaution to prevent the spread of disease to non-infected state waters where the fish would normally be planted.
Whirling disease is caused by Myxobolus cerebralis, a protozoan parasite that destroys cartilage in the vertebral column of trout and salmon. It can be fatal to infected trout and salmon but does not affect humans or other wildlife or fish. The whirling disease parasite is naturally present in some streams and rivers in California. Hatchery outbreaks are unusual but not unheard of (there has never been another outbreak of whirling disease in the department’s hatcheries in northern California).
Darrah Springs Hatchery supplies catchable trout for waters in Lassen, Modoc, Shasta, Siskiyou and Trinity counties and is one of 21 state-run hatcheries that provide millions of fish for California anglers.
Media Contact:
Andrew Jensen, CDFW Northern Region (530) 225-2378               
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Shasta County Hatchery Closed for Environmental Renovations, Expected to Re-open in Late Fall

The Crystal Lake Hatchery in eastern Shasta County is currently closed to the public while a major environmental restoration is underway in nearby Rock Creek.Crystal Lake Hatchery sign

“Because there is so much construction work and equipment on the property, we had to close the viewing area and temporarily cancel tours to keep the public and the workers safe,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Senior Hatchery Supervisor Linda Radford. “We will continue to grow and plant trout during construction and will welcome back visitors as soon as possible.”

Crystal Lake Hatchery spawns, raises and releases catchable rainbow trout every year for planting in northern California lakes. It is one of 23 state-run hatcheries that provide millions of fish for California anglers.

The Rock Creek restoration project consists of re-routing the hatchery supply pipeline and moving a diversion dam on Upper Rock Creek to a new location downstream. The project will create habitat for the endangered Shasta crayfish while maintaining a continuous, clean water supply to the hatchery via a water recirculation system.

The hatchery is scheduled to be closed to visitors for most of October and November. Visitors may call the hatchery at (530) 335-4111 for more information and updates.

A map of the work location and affected waterways can be found here.

A complete listing of state hatcheries can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/hatcheries.


Media Contact:
Andrew Jensen, CDFW Northern Region, (530) 225-2378
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Recreational Spiny Lobster Season to Open Oct. 3

Thousands of lobster fishermen are eagerly awaiting the start of the sport season for California’s spiny lobster, which opens Saturday, Oct. 3 and continues through March 16, 2016.

There is currently a strong El Niño event occurring in the eastern Pacific, with above-average water temperatures expected to continue into the months ahead in Southern California.

“Lobster catches have historically been considerable during El Niño events, so it’s looking to be a plentiful season,” said Travis Buck, a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

The California spiny lobster is common from Point Conception, California to Magdalena Bay on the west coast of Baja California, Mexico. A typical legal-size lobster will average over one pound in weight. Recreational divers and hoop netters will occasionally find lobsters over five pounds (considered trophy size) in California waters.

Regulations governing the sport take of spiny lobster have helped to preserve the tradition of lobster diving and hoop netting in Southern California. The 2015-16 spiny lobster season regulations include:

  • All persons age 16 or older who are taking or attempting to take lobster must possess a valid sport fishing license, ocean enhancement stamp and a lobster report card in order to take lobster south of Point Arguello. Children who are under 16 and fishing for lobster do not need a license, but must possess a lobster report card.
  • The daily bag and possession limit is seven lobsters.
  • Spiny lobster taken must measure at least 3 1/4 inches in length, and are measured in a straight line on the mid-line of the back from the rear edge of the eye socket to the rear edge of the body shell (carapace).
  • Any lobster may be brought to the surface for the purpose of measuring, but undersized lobsters may not be held in a game bag or brought aboard a boat and must be immediately released.
  • Harvesters may use hoop nets or bare (gloved) hands when skin or scuba diving for lobster. No appliance (such as fish spears or poles) may be used to assist.
  • No more than five hoop nets may be possessed by a person when taking spiny lobster or crab (or two hoop nets on piers, jetties and other shore-based structures). No more than 10 hoop nets may be possessed aboard a vessel, regardless of how many fishermen or persons are onboard.

Spiny lobster are nocturnal scavengers that feed on fishes, sea urchins and a variety of other marine life. During the day, they shelter in caves and crevices. Rocky reefs and other hard-bottom substrates are their preferred habitat, but they may also favor manmade habitats such as jetties, piers, breakwaters and artificial reefs. Surfgrass and eelgrass beds can also be productive lobster hunting grounds. At night, when they are out foraging, lobsters can sometimes be found on exposed sand or mud bottoms.

For hoopnetters, CDFW marine biologists suggest using an oily or aromatic bait to dispense a scent trail that nearby lobsters will follow back to the net. Squid, Pacific mackerel, bonito, anchovies and sardines may serve as good bait. A wire mesh bait container will help prevent the loss of bait to fish or other large predators such as seals and sea lions.

Because lobsters are strong and have hair-trigger responses when they sense predators, the best strategy for divers is usually to pin the lobster to the bottom instead of grabbing legs or antennae which could be ripped off, particularly since the lobster will have to be released if it undersized. Although lobsters can regenerate lost limbs, research has found that these lobsters ultimately produce fewer offspring because of the energy requirements for limb regeneration.

Prior to beginning fishing activity, the date, location and gear code must be recorded on the lobster report card. When finished fishing or changing locations or gear types, persons taking or attempting to take lobster must immediately record the number of lobster taken from that location, even if no lobster were retained. Lobster report cards must be returned to CDFW by April 30 following the end of the fishing season, regardless of whether the card was used or any lobster were caught. Persons who fill up a report card can turn in their card and purchase another.

Lobster report card data is very important for CDFW’s marine biologists to manage California’s lobster fishery. More than 19,000 report cards were received by the April 30 deadline last year. Pursuant to the California Code of Regulations, a $20 non-return fee will be levied for unreturned report cards or those that are returned after the deadline. Anglers may sit out one lobster season in lieu of paying the fee. CDFW reminds lobster report card holders to report every card — including cards that were lost — to avoid the fee, and also recommends reporting online and saving your confirmation number.

The complete set of spiny lobster regulations are contained in the 2015-16 Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet, found on CDFW’s website and wherever fishing licenses are sold. More information specific to California’s spiny lobster can also be found on the website.


Media Contacts:
Travis Buck, CDFW Marine Region, (858) 467-4214
Tom Mason, CDFW Marine Region, (562) 342-7107
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Reward Offered for Return of Satellite Tags from Federally Protected Green Sturgeon

State and federal fisheries officials are asking for public assistance and offering a $20 reward for the return of each satellite tag from green sturgeon. The satellite tags, which are programmed to release from the fish after a predetermined time, are most likely to be found along the open ocean coastal portions of San Francisco and San Mateo counties, and the shores and waters of San Francisco Bay, San Pablo Bay, Suisun Bay and the Delta.

Biologists use the tags to gather information on the Southern Distinct Population Segment of green sturgeon, a species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The tag rewards are being offered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), in collaboration with the West Coast Groundfish Observer Program, UC Davis and central California commercial halibut trawl fishermen.

If you see a live fish with a tag attached, do not remove the tag from the fish. Instead, note the tag number and call or email the point of contact printed on the tag. If you find a detached tag, please pick it up for return and contact Kristine Lesyna , CDFW Marine Region, (650) 631-6742, or Ethan Mora, NOAA Fisheries, (831) 420-3663.

More information about the tagging study can be found on the NOAA Fisheries Green Sturgeon Bycatch Project webpage.

Media Contacts:
Kristine Lesyna, CDFW Marine Region, (650) 631-6742
Ethan Mora, NOAA Fisheries, (831) 420-3663
Carrie Wilson, CDFW Communications, (831) 649-7191
Jim Milbury, NOAA Fisheries, (562) 980-4006

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its Sept. 3 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $31 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 27 funded projects will benefit fish and wildlife – including some endangered species – while others will provide the public with access to important natural resources. Several projects will also demonstrate the importance of protecting working landscapes that integrate economic, social and environmental stewardship practices beneficial to the environment, landowners and the local community. The funds for all these projects come from initiatives approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources. Some of the funded projects include:

  • A $375,000 grant to the Solano Resource Conservation District for a cooperative project with landowners, the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Center for Land-based Learning, to enhance approximately 21 acres of riparian habitat on two privately owned properties – one located approximately five miles north of Rio Vista and the second approximately four miles southeast of Winters, in Solano County.
  • A $510,000 grant to Anza-Borrego Foundation for a cooperative project with the San Diego Association of Governments, the Nature Conservancy, and the Resources Legacy Fund to acquire in fee approximately 1,129 acres of land for the protection of habitat that supports endangered species, habitat linkages and corridors between existing protected lands, and potential wildlife-oriented public use opportunities near Cuyamaca in San Diego County.
  • A $3.4 million grant to the Nature Conservancy for a cooperative project with the State Coastal Conservancy to acquire a conservation easement on approximately 2,554 acres of native forest habitats, including redwood, Douglas fir and Grand fir forest in the upland zones, and mature red alder forest within the riparian zone along the Ten Mile River, near Fort Bragg in Mendocino County.
  • A $1.4 million grant to the Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District to acquire approximately 443 acres of land for the protection and preservation of deer, mountain lion and oak woodland habitat, and existing regional wildlife linkages west of Lake Berryessa in Napa County.
  • Authorized a tax credit on behalf of United Technologies Corporation in the amount of $8,607,500, consistent with the Natural Heritage Preservation Tax Credit Act Program and awarded $2.7 million to reimburse the state general fund. This is part of a larger cooperative project with Santa Clara Open Space Authority, USFWS, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, California State Parks, California Coastal Conservancy, the Resources Legacy Fund and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to acquire approximately 1,831 acres of land. Purchasing this land will protect threatened and endangered species, provide movement corridors and connectivity, and provide wildlife-oriented public use opportunities near Morgan Hill in Santa Clara County.
  • A $980,000 grant to the Elkhorn Slough Foundation for a cooperative project with CDFW, the California State Coastal Conservancy, DWR, USFWS and Santa Cruz County Public Works, to restore approximately 46 acres of tidal marsh and five acres of perennial grasses on CDFW’s Elkhorn Slough National Marine Estuarine Research Reserve, two miles east of Moss Landing in Monterey County.
  • A $7.5 million acquisition in fee of approximately 282 acres of land by CDFW and to accept settlement funds from the U.S. Department of the Interior Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Fund for the protection of threatened and endangered species, and riparian and floodplain habitat along the Santa Clara River, and to provide wildlife-oriented public use opportunities associated with CDFW’s Fillmore Fish Hatchery in Ventura County.

For more information about the WCB please visit www.wcb.ca.gov.

Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, WCB Executive Director, (916) 445-0137
Dana Michaels, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 322-2420

Flat, green and gold pasture in Solano County, California
Cronin Ranch pasture, north of Rio Vista. Solano Resource Conservation District photo
weedy stream bank and channel
Weedy stream bank and channel where habitat restoration will occur on Cronin Ranch. Solano Resource Conservation District photo
dirt-covered ridge looks like moonscape under blue sky
Coyote Ridge near Morgan Hill. Santa Clara Open Space Authority photo
pawprint of California black bear in soil
Fresh bear track west of Lake Berryessa in Napa County. Photo used with permission.
a small spring in oak woodland
Partially developed spring in deer, mountain lion, and oak woodland habitat west of Lake Berryessa. Photo used with permission.
view of conifer forest and hills from above the fog
Native forest habitats near Ten Mile River in Mendocino County. Nature Conservancy photo
a fallen log lays across a small stream runs through red alder forest
Mature red alder forest in the riparian zone along the Ten Mile River in Mendocino County. Nature Conservancy photo

Free Fishing Day is Saturday, Sept. 5

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites all Californians to celebrate the end of summer by going fishing. Sept. 5 is the second of two Free Fishing Days in 2015, when people can try their hand at fishing without having to buy a sport fishing license. Free Fishing Days are also a great opportunity for licensed anglers to introduce non-angling friends and children to fishing and the outdoors.

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All fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect. Every angler must have an appropriate report card if they are fishing for abalone, steelhead or sturgeon anywhere in the state, or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems.

CDFW offers two Free Fishing Days each year – usually around the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend – when it’s legal to fish without a sport fishing license. This year, the Free Fishing Days were set for the Saturdays near Independence Day and Labor Day (this year, July 4 and Sept. 5).

Free Fishing Days provide a low-cost way to give fishing a try. Some CDFW regions offer Fishing in the City, a program where children can learn to fish in major metropolitan areas. Fishing in the City and Free Fishing Day clinics are designed to educate novice anglers about fishing ethics, fish habits, effective methods for catching fish and fishing tackle. Anglers can even learn how to clean and prepare fish for eating.

Anglers should check the rules and regulations for the waters they plan to fish because wildlife officers will be on duty to enforce them. For more information on Free Fishing Days, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/fishing/free-fishing-days.

Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944
Kyle Murphy, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 323-5556