Tag Archives: trout

Pilot Peak Lahontan Cutthroat Trout Released into Truckee Basin Waters

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will start releasing Pilot Peak Lahontan cutthroat trout into Truckee area waters to give Sierra Nevada anglers the opportunity to catch some trophy sized trout in a year or two. 

Last week CDFW received a shipment of cutthroat trout eggs from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex in Gardnerville, Nevada. This is the second shipment of eggs in the last two years and is part of a joint effort between the USFWS and CDFW to bring a native, trophy sport fish to the Truckee River Basin. 

“Anglers have been pulling some amazing, trophy-class Pilot Peak Lahontan cutthroat trout out of Pyramid Lake in Nevada for the last several years, and we really wanted to get this strain of fish for our anglers here in California,” said Jay Rowan, senior environmental scientist for CDFW’s North Central Region Hatchery Program. “Hopefully we will start seeing some really big ones showing up in a few years.” 

The Pilot Peak Lahontan cutthroat trout is a lake form of cutthroat trout. This particular strain is native to the Truckee River Basin and is known for their aggressive feeding behavior and large size. 

“They are an interesting fish to raise … being wild, they are a little wary, but they seem to take to feed fairly well,” said Steven Schnider, a CDFW fish and wildlife technician. “They are aggressive, so if you don’t separate them when they are young, you will see the bigger fish with tails sticking out of their mouths.” 

This piscivorous (fish eating) behavior is what allows the Pilot Peak Lahontan cutthroat trout to grow quickly and to such large sizes. In choosing which waters to plant, CDFW fisheries biologists have targeted waters that have robust bait fish populations. 

“We did a survey of anglers in some of the Truckee basin reservoirs back in 2010, and 85 percent of the anglers we interviewed were in favor of CDFW stocking Lahontan cutthroat trout in these waters,” said Rowan. “I think those results were largely driven by the success of Pilot Peak Lahontan cutthroat trout at Pyramid Lake.” 

Stocking of the sub-catchable size fish from last year’s eggs will begin as early as next week and will continue as the snow melts and planting trucks can gain access. Lakes to be stocked include Echo, Fallen Leaf, Donner, Boca, Prosser, Stampede and Webber lakes.

The Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex is an integrated fishery program that includes the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery, Marble Bluff Fish Passage Facility and Fishery Assistance. The program emphasizes the connection of fishery management with the health of the lake and river habitats upon which species depend.

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Media Contacts:
Jay Rowan, CDFW North Central Region, (916) 358-2883
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Northern California Hatchery Workers Save Millions of Trout and Salmon

Following recent heavy rains, workers at the Nimbus and American River hatcheries labored around the clock to prevent massive debris loads from clogging the main water supply for below Nimbus Dam. Their intense efforts to clean intake structures and adjust water flows during battering winds and rains saved millions of eggs and young fish over the 11-day ordeal.

After a winter deluge from Jan. 7-18, the two hatcheries’ main water source experienced clogging that affected the water distribution system, putting more than 5.5 million trout and salmon eggs and 3 million young trout, steelhead and salmon in peril.

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Hatchery worker cleaning debris from a holding tank

Both hatcheries are on a gravity water flow supply from the main intake screen at Nimbus Dam. There are no other filters until the water reaches each hatchery.

January storms swelled water levels at Folsom and Nimbus dams to the highest points since the El Niño floods of 1997-1998. The high flows resulted in a release of up to 60,000 cubic feet of water per second (cfs) from Nimbus Dam, while the normal rate is around 6,000-10,000 cfs. This huge water flow swept up debris that had collected above water line during the extensive drought. The debris clogged, overwhelmed and then incapacitated the automatic cleaning screen at the intake, compromising water flow to both hatcheries.

In a joint cooperative effort and at the height of the crisis, technicians from the Bureau of Reclamation devised a simple but effective way to quickly remove the debris clogging the main intake screen. They also bypassed systems that limited the time between cleaning cycles on the machinery, thereby allowing CDFW personnel to monitor the process 24 hours a day and keep water flowing to the hatcheries.

“It was a tense situation that called on our staff to work double shifts cleaning and operating the main intake structure screen and unclogging egg incubation jars inside each hatchery,” said Nimbus Hatchery Manager Paula Hoover. “They were working as fast as they could, 24/7, to save the fish.”

At American River Hatchery, the recent crisis threatened 1.4 million trout eggs in various stages of development, along with 1.7 million young trout. The fish and eggs were in danger of suffocation as the debris clog caused reduced oxygen levels and reduced the flow of water as much as 50 percent. Further complicating operations, the drum filter for the hatchery building was overwhelmed by the increased sediment, prompting workers to create a bypass to keep water flowing to the building.

The hatchery raises more than 2.5 million trout annually for planting in lakes, rivers and streams in 15 counties throughout northern and central California. More than a quarter of a million anglers utilize these waters for recreational fishing.

None of the Golden Trout rescued from the Volcanic Wilderness Area due to drought conditions were affected because they are housed in aquaculture systems that can be switched to 100 percent recirculation as needed. These Golden Trout will be kept at the hatchery until conditions in their natural habitat improve and they can be released back to the wild, likely in the late spring or early summer of this year.

At Nimbus Hatchery, 450,000 steelhead and 4.5 million salmon in various stages of development faced the same dire situation. Preparing for the worst, staff had emergency equipment ready to perform on-site releases of more than 250,000 year-old steelhead into the raging American River if conditions at the hatchery deteriorated further.

“The recreational and economic impact from potential loss of trout, salmon and steelhead from these two hatcheries would be substantial,” said North Central Region Fisheries Program Manager Kevin Thomas. “As usual, dedicated CDFW hatchery staff demonstrated exceptional care and effort, helping millions of fish survive to provide recreational, commercial and tribal fishing opportunities for California and the businesses they support.”

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Media Contacts:
Jay Rowan, CDFW North Central Region, (916) 358-2883
Dr. Mark Clifford, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (530) 918-9450
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

CDFW Releases New Guide to Heritage Trout Challenge

300th Angler Completes Popular Statewide Fishing Challenge

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has released the Angler’s Guide to the California Heritage Trout Challenge, a new online tool for those interested in fishing for California’s heritage trout. The guide provides anglers with detailed information on how to complete the Heritage Trout Challenge, including information about where to catch native trout, identification tips and a history of habitat restoration efforts.

Created in 2003, the Heritage Trout Challenge promotes California’s unique opportunity to pursue one of the most diverse assemblages of native trout found in the United States. Over the millennia, 12 unique trout types evolved to inhabit California.

Over the past 14 years, CDFW has provided customized certificates to anglers who successfully caught and photographed at least six different California native trout from their historic drainages.

The program recently hit a milestone as Christy Seifert of Citrus Heights became the 300th angler to complete the Heritage Trout Challenge.

“This experience has turned me and my fishing group into trout nerds,” Seifert said. “Now we can’t stop trying to catch more and more different species of wild trout in new places.”

Some anglers take the challenge even further by catching all of the recognized native trout in California and earning the title of Master Angler.

“Being associated with the challenge and the anglers that have completed it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career,” said Roger Bloom, CDFW environmental program manager and creator of the Heritage Trout Challenge. “Hopefully this guide will provide inspiration, along with information, to help anglers complete the challenge and create their own native trout angling memories.”

CDFW invites anglers, families and friends to take the challenge. Through the process, anglers will hopefully explore new waters and enjoy the diverse fishing opportunities in California. Anglers are encouraged to research and explore the waterways where these trout live, as the learning process is key to the challenge. CDFW Heritage and Wild Trout Program staff is available to answer questions and offer tips. Most are anglers themselves and enjoy assisting others in their pursuit of the challenge.

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Media Contacts:
Roger Bloom, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 445-3777
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824

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.

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