Tag Archives: salmon

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

Feather River Hatchery Fish Ladder to Open Sept. 14

The fish ladder at Feather River Hatchery in Oroville will open Monday, Sept. 14, signaling the start of the spawning season on the Feather River. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) hatchery workers will open the gates in the ladder about 8 a.m. and will take more than 3 million spring-run eggs and 12 million fall-run eggs over the next two months in order to produce Chinook salmon for release next spring.

Visitors can observe the salmon through the viewing windows and from the observation deck located at the base of the fish barrier dam. At the main side of the hatchery, visitors can observe CDFW technicians performing the spawning process. Thousands of school children tour the Feather River Hatchery each year. For more information about spawning schedules and educational opportunities at the Feather River Hatchery, please call (530) 538-2222.  For information about hatchery tours, please call (530) 534-2306.

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 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, 100 percent of the spring-run stock and 25 percent of the fall-run stock will be adipose fin clipped and implanted with coded wire tags prior to release. CDFW biologists use the information from the tags to chart the survival, catch and return rates of the fish.

For more information about California’s fish hatcheries, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/hatcheries.

Media Contacts:
Penny Crawshaw, Feather River Hatchery, (530) 538-2222
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 201-2958

May 15 is the 10th National Endangered Species Day

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recognizes the 10th National Endangered Species Day with a focused environmental concern. The purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to conserve imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend to prevent extinction. Special activities are scheduled at the zoos in San Diego, Santa Ana, Los Angeles and San Francisco, at Yosemite National Park, San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, San Diego Botanic Gardens, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro, Buena Vista Audubon Society Nature Center, San Francisco Zoo and Sacramento’s Beach Lake Park. Visit www.endangeredspeciesday.org to learn more. California, with all its geographic variety, has tremendous biological diversity. Our state supports more than 5,000 native plants and more than 1,000 native animal species. At least one third of the plants and two thirds of the animals here are endemic species that occur nowhere else in the world. Of all these species, more than 300 are designated by the state as rare, threatened or endangered. There are 133 species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act in California. Loss of habitat, water management conflicts, invasive species, poaching and climate change are the greatest threats to their long-term survival. The combination of wildfires and extreme drought conditions in most of the state add to the pressures on our already-stressed wild plants and animals. CDFW is paying special attention to priority listed species and other sensitive native wildlife that are in areas most severely affected by the drought. Emergency drought funds support projects that transferred water to critical fish and wildlife populations that might not have survived the continuing severe dry conditions without it. Examples of actions taken last year include the flooding of wetland habitats for giant garter snakes in State Wildlife Areas and the relocation of stranded salmon and steelhead. CDFW is establishing fish and wildlife stressor monitoring to assess the drought’s effects and identify key support projects for high-priority listed species such as Amargosa vole, tri-colored blackbird, salmon and species that occur in the San Joaquin Valley. One endangered plant is Butte County meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccosa ssp. californica), a small annual plant that only occurs at the bottom of rocky vernal pools in Butte County. The species has been protected at CDFW’s Stone Ridge and North Table Mountain Ecological Reserves, and although several thousand plants were observed at Stone Ridge this year, only 107 plants were counted at North Table Mountain, which is open to the public and offers fantastic spring wildflower viewing. Endangered Species Day was started in 2006 by the U.S. Senate to raise awareness of and celebrate these disappearing plant and animal species, and draw attention to successful recovery programs and opportunities for the public to get involved. It also honors the people who uphold the legacy of the Act while inspiring the next generation of conservation leaders. To learn more about CDFW’s drought-related actions to protect California’s fish and wildlife, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/drought.

Gray owl on tree branch
A great gray owl in Sierra National Forest near Oakhurst. Chris Stermer/CDFW photo
Orange and yellow globe-like flower
Pitkin marsh lily, (lilium pardalinum), a state-listed endangered species. Roxanne Bittman/DFG photo
gray freshwater fish with salmon-colored sides and gills in clear stream
Rare Paiute cutthroat trout in a remote Alpine County stream. CDFW photo.
A red fox with black legs and ears, sitting in snow
Sierra Nevada red fox, in Sonora Pass area, Mono County. CDFW photo
A light brown vole in a gloved hand
Captive Amargosa vole. Don Preisler/UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
Western pond turtle on dry gravel
Western pond turtle. Christina Sousa/CDFW photo
a dark gray salamander on wet dirt
Santa Cruz Long-Toed Salamander. David Laabs photo.
Tan and brown giant garter snake
Female, standard brown giant garter snake. Eric Hansen photo

Media Contacts: Daniel Applebee, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (209) 588-1879 Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

Poachers Take Advantage of Drought Conditions to Target Juvenile Salmon

California wildlife officers patrolling the Sacramento River recently cited six suspects for unlawfully taking and possessing juvenile salmon, and using the young fish as bait to target sturgeon. All of the suspects initially denied use of salmon as bait, but wildlife officers were able to reel in their lines and show them the dead salmon on their hooks.

The alleged poachers worked during the early morning hours under the cover of darkness and focused their effort on sandbars on the Sacramento River in Yolo and Sacramento counties. The sandbars were recently exposed due to drought conditions. Wildlife officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Delta Bay Enhanced Enforcement Project (DBEEP), Special Operations Unit (SOU) and local squads continue to use the Governor’s drought overtime support to step up patrols in these sensitive areas to protect salmon and sturgeon from poachers.

In the first case, a wildlife officer observed two subjects wading in the Sacramento River and using a large net to capture juvenile salmon near a sandbar created by the low flow conditions. They netted the small salmon for later use as bait to fish for sturgeon. The wildlife officer ultimately determined that the two anglers and one more fisherman used fishing rods baited with the juvenile salmon they’d caught. Tony Saetern, 25, Michael Anglero, 24, and Kao Saeyang, 28, all of Sacramento, were each cited for unlawful use of salmon as bait and unlawful possession of salmon out of season.

A few nights later, wildlife officers observed a suspect using a hand light and dip net to unlawfully capture and keep multiple juvenile salmon in the same area of the Sacramento River. The officers watched as a total of three suspects in the group appeared to use the salmon as bait for fishing. Officers contacted the suspects and found two of them in possession of fishing rods with hooks baited with the salmon. As the officers were conducting the investigation, a sturgeon was hooked on another fishing rod belonging to the group, was landed and released. Officers found the group in possession of a Snapple beverage bottle containing 14 additional juvenile salmon for later use as bait.

Nai Poo Saechao, 36, of Antelope and Lai C Saechao, 27, of Sacramento, were both cited for unlawful use of salmon as bait, possession of salmon out of season and an overlimit of salmon. Vincent Sai Poo Saechao, 23, of Antelope, was cited for unlawful method of take of salmon.

“During this time of year, juvenile salmon are migrating downstream to the Delta and are vulnerable to this type of poaching as they seek shelter from prey fish close to shore,” DBEEP Warden Byron Trunnell explained. “Salmon season is closed on the Sacramento River, and nets are not an authorized method of take for game fish in inland waters.”

The unlawful practice of catching juvenile salmon for bait has long been a concern and is an enforcement priority this time of year. Poaching pressure on salmon is particularly harmful now, given California’s current drought situation. CDFW and numerous other agencies on both the state and federal levels are taking action wherever possible to support the long-term viability of salmon populations of the Sacramento River watershed.

CDFW appreciates legitimate anglers and asks for the public’s help in apprehending those who are taking advantage of our natural resources. Illegal activity can be reported through the CDFW Californians Turn In Poachers and Polluters (CalTIP) line at 888-334-2258, or via email or text (please see www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/caltip.aspx for details).

Media Contact:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095CDFW Wildlife Officer (2)

CDFW to Host Public Meetings to Initiate Partnership with Sonoma County Landowners

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites Sonoma County residents to two upcoming public meetings to discuss the impacts of the drought on endangered coho salmon and other aquatic life. CDFW is urging  landowners to commit to voluntary water conservation measures in critical watersheds as a necessary means to save the fish.

The meetings will be held in Occidental and Windsor at the following locations:

Thursday, May 14, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Salmon Creek Elementary School
1935 Bohemian Highway
Occidental (95465)

Thursday, May 21, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Mary Agatha Furth Center
8400 Old Redwood Highway
Windsor (95492)

CDFW is working closely with several other agencies and organizations, including water interests, to develop strategies to keep enough water in the creeks to support coho salmon throughout the summer. Without major water-saving efforts, the fish will die from low water levels and high temperatures.

In addition to promoting water conservation, the department is asking landowners near Dutch Bill, Green Valley, Mark West and Mill creeks to allow CDFW personnel access to their property for continuing fish and creek monitoring. Fish rescue operations may be necessary later in the summer.

During the meetings, CDFW representatives will provide an overview of the drought and its impact on these watersheds, the department’s concerns and roles, and basic history and science of the species in these historic waterways. Representatives from local community resource conservation groups will provide information on water conservation strategies and technical assistance to landowners.

In April 2015 Governor Jerry Brown issued an Executive Order declaring a state of emergency and called on California residents to reduce water consumption wherever possible. The State Water Resources Control Board adopted an emergency regulation requiring an immediate 25 percent reduction in overall potable urban water use statewide in accordance with the Executive Order. The state drought web page can be found at drought.ca.gov.

For complete information and documents to download go to CDFW’s Voluntary Drought Initiative webpage at goo.gl/4rOjd0.

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


Fish and Game Commission Approves Emergency Fishing Closure on Part of Upper Sacramento River

Winter-run Chinook Salmon
Winter-run Chinook

Recommendations by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to provide dual areas of protection to Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon were approved by the state Fish and Game Commission on April 17.  An emergency regulation closing 5.5 miles of spawning habitat above the city of Redding on the Upper Sacramento River will go into effect on or about April 27. Enhanced protective measures were also included in the ocean sport and commercial fisheries regulations for the 2015 season.

“We are taking proactive measures on two fronts to protect these endangered fish both in the ocean and on their natal spawning habitat,” said CDFW Chief of Fisheries Stafford Lehr. “The fishing communities have stepped forward to support these measures and work towards long-term sustainability of the resource. None of us wanted to be in this situation, but heading into a fourth year of extreme drought calls for extreme measures.”

The emergency regulation closes all fishing on the 5.5 mile stretch of the Sacramento River from the Highway 44 Bridge where it crosses the Sacramento River upstream to Keswick Dam. The area is currently closed to salmon fishing but was open to trout fishing. The closure will protect critical spawning habitat and eliminate any incidental stress or hooking mortality of winter-run salmon by anglers.

The Commission also adopted ocean sport fishing regulations, which will mirror federal regulations approved earlier this week. CDFW, in consultation with representatives of California’s sport and commercial salmon fishing industries, recommended additional strategic protective measures for winter-run Chinook salmon to the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC). Following a two-month evaluation process, the PFMC recommended federal regulations that provide for sport and commercial seasons off California designed to target more abundant stocks, including Sacramento River fall-run Chinook salmon, while minimizing contact with winter-run Chinook.

“The CDFW proposal to reduce the allowable ocean harvest rate on winter-run salmon and change the timing and location of ocean fisheries south of San Francisco was accepted by the PFMC after in-depth analysis, review and discussion,” said Marci Yaremko, CDFW’s representative to the PFMC. “The Commission concurred with these recommendations, realizing their conservation benefit to all winter-run.”

It is highly unusual for a state to propose even stricter guidelines on a listed species than required by the federal Endangered Species Act. However, CDFW scientists believe the additional protection provided in the emergency river closure and additional ocean fishing restrictions will help a significant segment of the winter-run population to avoid losses.

“Given the gravity of the current situation, the Commission recognizes the need for highly protective measures,” said  Commission President Jack Baylis. “It is imperative that our fisheries are given the best protections.”

# # #

Media Contact:
arry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478 or (208) 220-1169

Fisheries Agencies Report Positive Outlook for 2015 Ocean Salmon Fishing Season

Media Contacts:
Jennifer Simon, CDFW Ocean Salmon Project, (707) 576-2878

Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

At the annual salmon informational meeting held in Santa Rosa today, state and federal fishery scientists presented encouraging news for sport and commercial salmon anglers. Forecasts suggest there are 652,000 adult Sacramento River fall Chinook salmon in the ocean this year, along with 423,800 adults from the Klamath River fall run. Fish from these runs comprise the vast majority of salmon taken in California’s ocean and inland fisheries.

James Phillips holding a Chinook salmon
CDFW Environmental Scientist and Ocean Salmon Project team member James Phillips, holding a Chinook salmon. CDFW photo by Kristie Amtoft.

These forecasts, which were higher than last year, will be used over the next few months by fishery managers to set sport and commercial fishing season dates, commercial quotas, and size and bag limits.

“The forecasts are encouraging and suggest that California fisheries may see salmon seasons in 2015 that have increased opportunities over last year,” said Melodie Palmer-Zwahlen, a senior environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Chinook salmon that will be harvested in ocean fisheries in 2015 hatched 2-4 years ago and, as a result, have not been highly impacted by California’s drought. Starting next year, it is anticipated that future ocean salmon fishing opportunities may be impacted by the ongoing drought.

Season dates and other regulations will be developed by the Pacific Fishery Management Council and California Fish and Game Commission over the next few months. For more information on the salmon season setting process or general ocean salmon fishing information, please visit the Ocean Salmon Project website at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/oceansalmon.asp, or call the salmon fishing hotline at (707) 576-3429.

Agencies Taking Measures to Protect Winter-run Chinook, Preparing to Release Approximately 600,000 Fish

An increased number of hatchery-reared juvenile winter-run Chinook salmon produced from adults that were collected as a precautionary measure to offset anticipated in-river drought related mortality will likely be released in early February, state and federal officials said. Additional broodstock was collected last year at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Livingston Stone National Fish Hatchery (LSNFH) because this unprecedented drought is severely impacting survival of Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, a state and federally listed endangered species.

This is the second consecutive year that juvenile winter-run salmon have experienced extremely poor survival during incubation and/or emigration to the ocean, substantially impacting the winter-run population. A third consecutive year would have dramatic adverse effects on the population.

Elevated water temperatures in the upper Sacramento River last summer and fall resulted in extremely high mortality (95 percent) of brood year 2014 winter-run egg and fry. Resource managers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) believe that a collapse of the 2014 natural spawning winter-run brood year may have occurred. Of the naturally spawned juvenile winter-run Chinook that survived (five percent), it is estimated that 95 percent are in the Delta now and these remaining fish are being tracked carefully through enhanced Delta monitoring, implemented as part of the joint agency drought response. Biologists expect these fish to remain and rear in the Delta through mid-March, until they are cued to exit to the bay and ocean through a significant rain event.

Because of this, CDFW, USFWS and NOAA Fisheries have implemented measures like the collection of additional broodstock at LSNFH to protect the remaining winter-run from further harm and to improve their habitat. The hatchery currently has approximately 600,000 juvenile winter-run ready for release in the near future.  This is over three times the size of the usual release.

Measures, which will continue to be implemented in the coming year, include:

  • Increasing numbers of hatchery-produced winter-run juveniles and timing their releases to increase their chance of survival.
  • Rescuing and relocating juvenile and adult salmon and steelhead back to the Sacramento River.
  • Managing ocean and river salmon harvest to reduce winter-run catch.
  • Increased monitoring of all stages of winter-run (e.g. redds, juvenile emigration downstream and through the Delta, and adult returns).
  • Gravel and Habitat Restoration Projects on the upper Sacramento River
  • Utilizing drought resources to focus on drought specific projects:
    • Enhanced salmon and steelhead monitoring in the Upper Sacramento River Basin
    • Restoration projects on Battle Creek
    • Developing plans for introductions of winter-run into Battle Creek

Careful management of the state’s limited water resources to protect the remaining winter-run will be necessary to recover this important salmon species. One of the most important steps to the successful protection of winter-run is maintaining cool water temperatures from May through October in the upper Sacramento River where winter-run spawn.  Winter-run depend on cool water for incubation and juvenile survival.  Actions to address this issue are included in the Interagency Drought Operations Strategy Released on December 12, 2014 and Drought Operations Plan submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board on January 15, 2015. Another necessary step is to maintain river flow levels during key periods to prevent dewatering of winter-run eggs and recently hatched fry. Resource managers estimate the juvenile production and provide this information to state and federal agencies that operate the Central Valley Project and State Water Projects. State and federal partners along with water users are discussing these and other important steps.

Media Contacts:
Steve Martarano, USFWS Bay-Delta FWO, (916) 930-5643
Jim Milbury, NOAA Fisheries, (562) 980-4006
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Anglers Reminded to Submit Steelhead, Sturgeon, Abalone and Salmon Report Card Data in January

Media Contacts:
Glenn Underwood, CDFW License and Revenue Branch, (916) 928-5841
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds anglers and divers that they are required by regulation to report or return their 2014 report cards.

Information collected from sport fishing report cards provides CDFW biologists with important data necessary to monitor and manage California’s diverse recreational fisheries, including preparing recommendations for sport fishing seasons and limits that allow for sustainable levels of take. This science-based management helps to ensure healthy populations of fish for future generations.  2014 report cards are due by Jan. 31, 2015 for steelhead, sturgeon, abalone and north coast salmon fisheries. Spiny lobster report cards must be returned or reported by April 30, 2015. Anglers and divers are required to report even if the report card was lost or they did not fish.  Cards should be reviewed carefully for accuracy before submission.

There are two ways to meet the mandatory reporting requirement. Online reporting (www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Fishing#758846-harvest-reporting) is easy, fast and free. Online reporting includes instant confirmation that the report has been received and accepted. Report cards may also be returned by mail to the addresses listed below.

North Coast Salmon Report Cards
CDFW – Klamath River Project
5341 Ericson Way
Arcata, CA 95521-9269

Abalone Report Cards
CDFW – Abalone Report Card
32330 N. Harbor Dr.
Fort Bragg, CA 95437-5554

Steelhead Report Cards
CDFW – Steelhead Report Card
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090

Sturgeon Report Cards
CDFW – Sturgeon Report Card
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090

Any person who fails to return or report a salmon, steelhead, sturgeon or abalone report card to the department by the deadline may be restricted from obtaining the same card in a subsequent license year or may be subject to an additional fee for the issuance of the same card in a subsequent license year.

Please note that license sales agents cannot accept report cards. More information about report cards is available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Fishing.

Upper Trinity River Reopens for Chinook Salmon Fishing

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announces that the Trinity River Hatchery has met its adult fall-run Chinook salmon take of 4,800 fish. Beginning Monday, Nov. 17 the Trinity River downstream of the Old Lewiston bridge to the mouth of Indian Creek is open to the take of chinook salmon over 22 inches.

The daily bag limit in this section is three Chinook salmon, of which one may be an adult over 22 inches. The daily bag limit for the rest of that section below the mouth of Indian Creek down to the Highway 299 west bridge at Cedar flat is three Chinook salmon under 22 inches.

The fall-run Chinook salmon quota on the Lower Trinity River is 681 adult Chinook salmon from the confluence with the Klamath River up to Cedar flat. This sub-area quota has not been met yet, and anglers may retain one adult Chinook salmon as part of their three fish daily bag limit.

CDFW reminds anglers that a salmon report card is required when fishing for Chinook salmon in anadromous portions of the Klamath basin.

Steelhead fishing remains open in all areas, with a daily bag of two hatchery steelhead or trout and possession limit of four hatchery steelhead or trout. Hatchery steelhead or trout are defined as fish showing a healed adipose fin clip (the adipose fin is absent). Anglers are also required to possess a steelhead report card when fishing for steelhead.

Anglers may keep track of the status of open and closed sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers by calling 1 (800) 564-6479.

Media Contacts:
Sara Borok, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (707) 822-0330
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944