Tag Archives: trout

General Trout Season Opens Saturday

The general trout opener in many counties throughout California will commence on Saturday, April 30, 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. Because of the increased rains this winter, CDFW expects most lakes to be open and available for fishing.

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 2016-17 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulation booklet (www.wildlife.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 https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regions/6 (under Hunting, Fishing, Education).

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 mudsnails from spreading into other waters. To avoid spreading New Zealand Mudsnails and other aquatic invasive species to other waters, anglers are advised to 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.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/online-sales 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, CDFW Environmental Scientist, (760) 873-6071

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

Drought Prompts Fish Evacuation at San Joaquin Hatchery

San Joaquin hatchery fish being moved to Shaver Lake
San Joaquin hatchery fish being moved to Shaver Lake

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 San Joaquin Hatchery near Fresno for the first time.

The water level at Millerton Lake, which supplies water for the hatchery, is so low that the temperature is not cold enough for the hatchery fish to survive.  Workers have been evacuating the hatchery-raised rainbow trout, some of which are as large as 3 pounds, into lakes in Fresno , Kern, Tulare and Tuolumne counties for more than two weeks. The fish planting process should be completed within the next few days.

“Our water is just too warm to raise trout here, and if we don’t move them, they won’t survive,” said CDFW Fisheries Program Manager Dean Marston. “If there is an upside to this situation, it’s that the public will have an opportunity to catch some really nice trout.”

The fish have been planted in Shaver Lake, Huntington Lake, Courtright Reservoir, Wishon Reservoir, Pinecrest Lake, Kern River below Johnsondale Bridge and the Tule River at Camp Nelson.

CDFW has been stocking rainbow and brown trout from other state hatcheries, including the American River Hatchery in Sacramento and Kern River Hatchery near Bakersfield, into state waters earlier than normal. Many of these are catchable-size trout, in addition to some fingerlings and smaller fish. By increasing planting frequency and the number of fish planted, CDFW can somewhat offset the natural decline in fishing opportunity as water temperatures in many geographic locations become unsuitable. The accelerated planting schedule will continue until the end of summer when all the fish in the raceways are expected to be evacuated.

At the San Joaquin Hatchery, CDFW is moving next year’s inventory of small, fingerling-size trout to its Moccasin Hatchery for rearing until water temperatures at the San Joaquin Hatchery return to suitable levels.

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


Media Contacts:
Dean Marston, CDFW Central Region, (559) 243-4005, ext. 122

Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 201-2958

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.


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

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

Emergency Fishery Closure Evaluation Process Adopted; Careful Angling Can Help Prevent Closures

The California Fish and Game Commission recently adopted emergency regulations that grant the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) authority to temporarily close fisheries experiencing degraded environmental conditions that may affect fish populations. CDFW’s temporary authority will commence upon approval of the regulations by the Office of Administrative Law and will remain in effect for 180 days.

As the effects of the current drought on California’s wildlife continue to mount, CDFW will be using a suite of criteria and associated triggers to guide fishing closure and reopening decisions. Criteria used in any evaluation include water temperature, dissolved oxygen levels, fish passage, water levels and fish population size. Although the Commission adopted the regulations, the department’s decision to close or open a fishery is discretionary and will be based on the most current information collected during site-specific monitoring efforts by professional staff. Priority will be given to listed fish species, species of special concern and game fish. Although some waters may exhibit conditions that meet the criteria and sets of triggers established by the Commission, CDFW will focus its discretionary authority for closing waters that provide coldwater refuge and essential habitat for species of greatest conservation need.

Prior to any closure, CDFW will solicit input from local stakeholders and provide information on the approach. CDFW will consider fishing closures as a last resort, and urges all those who fish California’s waters to adopt good preventative practices now.

“Anglers can help keep our wild trout thriving by using good judgment,” said CDFW Fisheries Branch Chief Stafford Lehr. “Fish earlier and stop earlier in the day during these hot summer days ahead.”

Aquatic wildlife is especially vulnerable as stream flows decrease and instream water temperatures increase. These conditions cause added stress and can affect growth and survival. In waters open to angling which may experience elevated daytime water temperatures (greater than 70 degrees Fahrenheit) the best opportunity for anglers to fish would be during the early morning hours after the warm water has cooled overnight and before the heat of the day increases water temperatures.

“Please pay attention to water conditions when you are fishing and when planning your fishing trips,” said CDFW Inland Fisheries Program Manager Roger Bloom. “Afternoon and evening water temperatures may be too warm to ensure fish being released will survive the added stress cause by warmer water that builds up during hot days in summer and fall.”

Many of California’s anglers have adopted catch-and-release fishing methods. Careful handling of a trout and proper catch-and-release techniques can ensure fish don’t experience serious exhaustion or injury.

However, catch-and-release fishing during afternoon and early evening in streams and lakes with elevated water temperatures may increase stress, hinder survival and increase mortality.

Proper catch-and-release fishing techniques include:

  •  Using a stream thermometer and check water temperatures often
  • Avoiding fishing during periods when water temperatures exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit (likely afternoon to late evening)
  • Using barbless hooks whenever possible
  • Playing hooked fish quickly and avoiding extensive handling
  • Using a landing net
  • Wetting your hands, your net and other materials that may come in contact with the fish
  • Not touching the gills
  • Keeping fish fully submerged and upright and allowing it to swim away under its own power

Anglers interested in pursuing California’s unique native trout should be especially careful this summer and fall when targeting high elevation streams. Many of the existing native cutthroat, redband and golden trout populations are relegated to small headwater streams which likely will experience low water levels and elevated temperatures.


Media Contacts:
Roger Bloom, CDFW Inland Fisheries Program, (916) 445-3777

Clark Blanchard, CDFW Communications, (916) 651-7824