Tag Archives: steelhead

Nimbus Hatchery Releases 420,000 American River Steelhead

Nearly a half million young steelhead recently started their journey to the ocean, thanks to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Staff at Nimbus Fish Hatchery nursed the young steelhead through several potentially devastating conditions, including drought-induced high water temperatures in the hatchery last summer and winter flood conditions that nearly cut off usable water supplies and carried dangerous levels of silt into the hatchery’s normally clean water distribution system.160224-CDFW-STEELHEAD-1830

“The fish we released will be returning to the American River over the next two to four years, and we are proud and relieved to have brought them this far,” said Gary Novak, the Nimbus Hatchery manager. “Steelhead are hardy, but considering their size and the number of environmental obstacles cropping up in rapid succession, they still needed human intervention in the hatchery to ensure a better chance of survival in the wild.”

All 420,000 young steelhead were released into the American River just upstream of the I Street Bridge in Sacramento. Due to the high water conditions, the juvenile fish are expected to make excellent time traveling down the Sacramento River to the Bay and eventually on to the Pacific Ocean. Losses to predators are believed to be lower during turbid water and high flow conditions.

During January and February 2017, water releases from Nimbus Dam reached 80,000 cubic feet per second (cfs), which is well above the normal 6,000 to 10,000 cfs. The high flows created conditions that dislodged exceptional amounts of debris, clogging the intake structure at Nimbus Fish Hatchery and creating near-lethal levels of nitrogen in the water. Hatchery staff worked around the clock over a month-long period to keep the water intake open, clear water distribution points, tanks and raceways of silt, and install aerators to lower nitrogen levels.

Fish health assessments by CDFW pathologists found the steelhead to be in satisfactory condition and near the average weight for fish their age prior to release. It remains to be seen how the stressors of living in turbid water and enduring some periods of high nitrogen levels will affect the fish. Annual returns of mature steelhead to Nimbus Hatchery have varied widely in recent years, from a high of 3,409 in 2013 to a low of just 150 the following year.

All the fish in this release were marked with an adipose fin clip.

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Media Contacts:
Jay Rowan, CDFW North Central Region, (916) 358-2883

Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

Fishing Report Cards Due Soon

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds anglers and divers that Jan. 31, 2017 is the due date for turning in steelhead, sturgeon, abalone and north coast salmon report card data.

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.

Anglers and divers are required to return their report cards pursuant to section 1.74 of the California sport fishing regulations. Anglers and divers must report even if the report card was lost, they did not fish or they did not catch any fish. Cards should be reviewed carefully for accuracy prior to submitting them.

There are two ways to meet the mandatory angler reporting requirement. Online reporting (www.wildlife.ca.gov/reportcards) is easy, fast and free. Online reporting includes instant confirmation that the report has been received and accepted.

Sport fishing 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 Drive
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

Lobster cards are not due until April 30.

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

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Media Contacts:
Glenn Underwood, CDFW License and Revenue Branch, (916) 928-5841

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

CDFW to Hold Public Meeting on Klamath River Sport Fishery

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites the public to attend an informational meeting to review regulatory options and receive public input for the 2016 Klamath River sport fishing seasons, area closures and bag limits.

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The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 12 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Board of Supervisors Chambers in the Del Norte County Administrative Building, 981 H St., Suite 100, Crescent City (95531)

One focus of the meeting will be the current sport fishing closure at the confluence of Blue Creek. The public is encouraged to provide input regarding this closure.

Regulatory options for the Klamath River will be considered at the California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) meeting in February 2016 with the official regulatory notice of proposed change being distributed to the general public afterward. Klamath River regulations are slated to be adopted by the FGC in April 2016.

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

Drought Prompts Fish Evacuation at American River and Nimbus Hatcheries

American River Hatchery tanks
American River Hatchery tanks

With a fourth year of extreme drought conditions reducing the cold water supply available, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is moving fish out of the American River and Nimbus hatcheries for the second year in a row.

Bureau of Reclamation models suggest water temperatures at the hatcheries could be at lethal levels for cold water fish by August. CDFW has already begun to stock American River Hatchery rainbow and brown trout into state waters earlier than normal. These fish range from small fingerlings to the larger catchable size. The accelerated planting schedule will continue through mid-July when all the fish in the raceways are expected to be evacuated. This includes all the fingerling size rainbow trout that would normally be held in the hatchery to grow to catchable size for next year.

A new, state-of-the-art building at American River Hatchery, completed in early June using emergency drought funds, will enable CDFW to raise Lahontan cutthroat trout through the summer for planting into eastern sierra lakes and streams. The new building will also enable CDFW to hold a small group of rainbow trout fingerlings that are scheduled to be stocked in west side sierra put-and-grow fisheries by airplane in July. The new hatchery building utilizes water filters, ultraviolet sterilization techniques and large water chillers to keep water quality and temperatures at ideal levels for trout rearing. However, the new technology is limited to the hatchery building and not the raceways, which will limit capacity to include only the Lahontan cutthroat trout once the fish start to grow to larger sizes.

Nimbus Hatchery has already begun relocating some 330,000 steelhead to the Feather River Hatchery Annex to be held through the summer. When the water temperature at the Nimbus Hatchery returns to suitable levels in the fall, the steelhead will be brought back to Nimbus to finish growing and imprinting then will be released into the lower American River. The Feather River Hatchery Annex is supplied by a series of groundwater wells that maintain cool water temperatures throughout the year.

The fall run Chinook salmon from Nimbus Hatchery have all been released into state waterways. If necessary, the chilled American River Hatchery building will be used this fall to incubate and hatch Chinook salmon from Nimbus Hatchery.

“Unfortunately, the situation is similar to last year,” said Jay Rowan, Acting Senior Hatchery Supervisor for CDFW’s North Central Region. “We have begun to implement contingency plans to avoid major fish losses in the two hatcheries. We want to do the best job we can to provide California anglers with good fishing experiences and communicate when there will be deviations from normal practices. With that in mind, we want to let anglers in the area know that a lot more fish than normal will be going out into area waters served by American River Hatchery.”

Rowan said that the number of fish planted at various waterbodies will increase as the planting timeframe decreases, so the fishing should be very good through the summer at foothill and mountain elevation put-and-take waters. Early fish plants now mean there won’t be as many fish available to plant in the lower elevation fall and winter fisheries, so the fishing may drop off later in the season if the fish don’t hold over well.

American River Hatchery operations focus on rearing rainbow and Lahontan cutthroat trout and kokanee salmon for recreational angling, predominantly in waters within the North Central Region. Nimbus Hatchery takes salmon and steelhead eggs from the American River and rears them to fish for six months to a year, until they are ready to be put back in the system.

To the south, San Joaquin Hatchery near Fresno expects to experience high water temperatures this summer. Transferring and stocking fish in advance of high water temperatures is planned. CDFW hopes to maintain some trout at low densities at the hatchery for the winter stocking season.

Annually, CDFW works with the Bureau of Reclamation to ensure its operations provide suitable conditions for fish at hatcheries and in the river. This year, conditions are forecasted to be dire with little flexibility in operations. Similar to last year, low reservoir storage and minimal snow pack will result high water temperatures over summer and very low river flows by fall.

Fall and winter rains, if received in sufficient amounts, will cool water temperatures enough to allow both hatcheries to come back online and resume operations.

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Media Contacts:
Jay Rowan, CDFW North Central Region, (916) 358-2883

Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944