With Opening Day in sight, get to know the new fishing regs

Just like you eventually replaced your old neoprene waders from back in the day, it’s time to get up-to-speed on the new fishing regs. (credit: Jim Burns)

From Trout Unlimited California and CalTrout

Dear fellow advocates for California’s trout and salmon,

On March 1st, 2021 the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) implemented new Inland Trout Sportfishing regulations that will change the angling season(s) and experience on many waters. CDFW will also, as directed by the California Fish and Wildlife Commission, changed the general statewide fishing regulations on March 1.The final regulation packet can be found here.

Regulations for your favorite trout streams may have changed so please review this packet before your next visit to the river.As many of you are aware, Trout Unlimited California and California Trout have followed the state’s regulatory change process closely, and engaged in multiple ways with CDFW and the Commission to make sure that our wild trout populations are conserved and that our best special regulations waters retain their unique character and fishing experience.

Since the initial proposal for simplifying the Inland Trout Regulations was released in early 2019, TU and CalTrout worked collaboratively to deliver our members’ values and priorities to both CDFW staff and to the Fish and Wildlife Commission, throughout the public comment period.

Our principal goals were:to protect and enhance populations and habitat of native and wild trout;to support the Department’s goals with respect to establishment and management of designated Wild Trout waters;to support the Department’s goals with respect to the R3 program (which aims to recruit and retain more purchasers of California fishing and hunting licenses, in part through improving angling opportunities statewide);to honor long-established angling traditions and practices for specific waters, where these are consistent with broader resource management goals;To improve access for angling where appropriate or critically needed.Some of our priorities are reflected in the new regulations. In particular, the new general statewide regulations now require catch-and-release only, no-bait practices for the winter and early spring, in all streams.

Such measures are appropriate during that season, when most trout species are vulnerable as they congregate and spawn. Previously, the statewide regulations allowed a 5 fish take, 10 fish bag limit year-round with no gear restrictions.However, the final simplified regulations do not go far enough to protect our wild trout waters, especially given the impacts on coldwater fisheries of the hotter and drier conditions we are projected to experience in California.

We must manage our trout resources more flexibly, with better monitoring of wild and native trout population trends, if we want future generations of anglers to have the same opportunities we do today.Moreover, the State’s focus on “simplifying” freshwater angling regulations limited their willingness to keep some of the special regulations that have helped define the fishing experience on many iconic streams. CDFW and the Commission should re-visit and revise the new regulations for the following to better conserve native and wild trout populations or to enable better access throughout the year (there are likely other waters that also merit adjustments to their regulations).

Upper Sacramento River: Rather than three different regulations for different stream segments for this famous, wild trout-dominated water, we recommend a unified regulation: year-round, 2 fish bag, barbless artificial lures only. This would maintain harvest opportunities while adequately protecting large spawning fish that migrate up from Shasta Lake. Such a regulation would better meet the primary management objective of the 2000 Fishery Management Plan for the Upper Sacramento River (“to develop a world-class wild trout fishery”).

East Walker River: This trophy wild trout water, by long tradition primarily a catch and release fishery, has had a year-round season—until now. The new regulations close the “EW” from November 15th through the last Saturday in April, and allow increased harvest (from 1 trout to 2 trout) for the full open season. For this iconic water we support catch-and-release angling year-round with barbless artificial lures.

Mokelumne River: The new, simplified regulations allow for harvest of wild trouton “The Moke.” Our proposal is for catch-and-release angling year-round with artificial, barbless lures from the Highway 49 Bridge downstream to Lake Pardee at Middle Bar Bridge. That would make The Moke the sole catch-and-release only stream in the Sierra foothills, while maintaining harvest off Middle Bar Bridge (provides angling opportunities for persons with disabilities).

East Fork Carson River: The new regulations allow harvest of wild trout in this river downstream of Hangman Bridge (traditionally catch-and-release only water). We support a return to catch-and-release regulations with artificial lures and barbless hooks from Hangman Bridge to the Nevada state line. This management approach would best meet two primary goals under the 1979 East Fork Carson River Wild Trout Management Plan.

Fall River Complex (includes Ahjumawi, Eastman Lake, Lava Springs, and Bear Creek): This famous fishery, one of California’s few true spring creeks, now allows harvest and use of bait. We support a year-round angling season here with single barbless, artificial lures only and zero take.Lastly, the new, simplified Inland Trout Regulations continue the State’s over-reliance on hatchery production and stocking to provide trout fishing opportunity in many waters. This model is outdated, costly, and inconsistent with other resource management and conservation goals and policies.TU and CalTrout will continue to work with CDFW and the Fish and Wildlife Commission to monitor the performance of the new simplified regulations and to revisit and revise them as needed to protect native and wild trout and the angling experience on certain waters.

We will hold CDFW accountable to do post-regulation change monitoring and creel surveys, provide support for monitoring through our staffs and memberships, and keep an open dialogue with CDFW staff. We will also lead efforts to submit petitions for changes to the new regulations, as needed or appropriate.We appreciate your continued support for our advocacy on behalf of California’s native and wild trout, and to preserve the unique character and angling experience of certain streams.

For more information, or to convey a concern, please contact TU’s Sam Sedillo (ssedillo@tu.org) or CalTrout’s Patrick Samuel (psamuel@caltrout.org).

Arroyo Seco pursues grant money for steelhead recovery

 Since its listing as an endangered species in 1997, Southern steelhead abundance has continued to decline to precariously low levels.(Courtesy Arroyo Seco Foundation)


From the Arroyo Seco Foundation: The California Department of Fish & Wildlife has recently listed the Arroyo Seco in the Los Angeles River as a candidate site for its Fisheries Restoration ProgramThis is the first time anything has ever been listed in the LA River Watershed for steelhead restoration. The Arroyo Seco Foundation has been invited to submit a proposal by April 13.

The LA River Fish Passage program has demonstrated how critically important the Arroyo Seco is to steelhead restoration in the LA River system.

The Arroyo Seco Foundation is now putting together a proposal to develop a steelhead recovery program in this critical stream. The program will include analysis of barriers, sediment, trout habitat conditions and a trout population survey. It will also take a preliminary look at an obsolete Forest Service dam 3.5 miles into the upper watershed of the Arroyo Seco in the Angeles National Forest, Brown Mountain Dam, that blocks the prime spawning habitat in the mountains.

The Los Angeles River Fish Passage and Habitat Structures Design project will enhance migration corridors to the LA River soft-bottom reaches and upper tributaries to support native fish habitat needs at all life stages. (Courtesy Stillwater Sciences)

To be competitive in CDFW’s grant process, we need to provide a substantial match for the CDFW funding requested. The steelhead recovery program won’t begin until June of next year, but we need your commitment by Friday, April 9

Can you help us by providing financial support or in-kind services for the steelhead recovery program?

Get in touch with ASF Managing Director Tim Brick — (tim@arroyoseco.org (626) 639-4092) — right away!
(That means by Friday, April 9th)

We welcome partners in the steelhead recovery program.

Love will get you through anything

A pair of nesting Bald Eagles in Big Bear, named, Jackie and Shadow, have been taking turns incubating a pair of eggs above the lake shoreline.  Unfortunately, their first set of eggs were destroyed earlier this year by marauding ravens. Here is an amazing shot of Jackie sitting protectively on their new eggs two days ago, through our recent snow storm. (Courtesy of John Clearwater)

‘Like insects waking to th’ advancing spring’

Trout Unlimited’s Bob Blankenship spotted this mayfly near the LA River. Spring is in the air. (Courtesy Bob Blankenship)
The mayfly has played a role throughout human history, appearing in the lower righthand corner of this famous Albrecht Dürer‘s engraving The Holy Family with the Mayfly, 1495. Lasting only a few hours, depending on the species, the mayfly symbolizes the transitoriness of life. (Courtesy National Gallery of Art)

In shoals the hours their constant numbers bring
Like insects waking to th’ advancing spring;
Which take their rise from grubs obscene that lie
In shallow pools, or thence ascend the sky:
Such are these base ephemeras, so born
To die before the next revolving morn.
— George Crabbe, “The Newspaper”, 1785

Mayflies are totally prehistoric, with their distinctive wing profile. More than 3,000 species make up the Ephemeroptera, a wonderful word I first read just recently in an old British tome about bugs on the water. If you have spent any time at your vise during the pandemic, I’ll bet you’ve tied more than a few dries, as well as imitations of the rest of their life cycle, which is mostly spent as a nymph.

See you on the water, Jim Burns

Gehry’s LA River plan doesn’t include fish

Burn! Slowing down this carp old school gave me a hot palm way back in 2014. (Jim Burns)

I think I’ve been avoiding posting about this because it just seems so discouraging. During the pandemic year, we’ve all needed a lift. But I can’t avoid it any longer. After so many years of advocacy for the LA River from, for example, Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR) and Heal the Bay, to transform it from miles of concrete into a robust ecological space for surrounding communities as well as all Angelinos, now we have a celebrity-fueled vision to create elevated platform parks.

Talented as he is, celebrity architect Frank Gehry is clearly the wrong person to redesign our city waterway. Here is a letter to the editor printed in today’s Los Angeles Times in response to its opinion piece, “A river renewal plan to benefit the Gateway Cities.

Mark C. Salvaggio writes: ” I have seen this so-called river plan. Lets MacAdams would be rolling over in his grave if he saw it. He started Friends of the Los Angeles River and was a mild-mannered poet and outdoors type of guy. MacAdams never sought to develop the L.A. River into an urban spectacle as envisioned by architect Frank Gehry. This plan would require billions of dollars and would destroy the “parkway” vision of MacAdams. This is what happens when big shots grab onto a community-based idea.”

When I searched the word “fish” in the recently released LA River Master Plan, I found three references: one to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, then these two mentions.

“Along the LA River, access points take on many different forms. Following the advocacy that led to the LA River’s designation as a federally protected waterway in 2010, there are now two section of the river designated as River Recreation Zones created to allow access into the river for kayaking, canoeing, and fishin (sic).”

“The 11.3 miles of soft-bottomed section (portions of the channel with earthen bottom) at Sepulveda Basin, The Glendale Narrows and the tidal estuary are the most ecologically healthy; however, much of the river corridor continues to support algae, insects, fish, and local and migratory birds.”

That’s literally it. Three mentions of fishing, one part of a state agency’s official name. Incredible.

On a recent fly-fishing trip to the awesome Southern Sierra, the guide I was with told me that the LA is now a destination spot for fly fishers who wanted to test their skill against out infamous carp. Celebrities now fish for carp; hip web publishers ballyhoo it, and generally speaking its cred has come a long way from when I started this blog more than 10 years ago.

So, if you love fishing and don’t want to drive for hours to find a decent spot to toss a fly, please take a few minutes, click on the LA River Master Plan above and comment. We all need to voice our opinion that this plan is going in the exact opposite direction it needs to go. I mean we already have a guarantee from the U.S. Army corps to restore a wide swatch of the river to its natural state. Yes, the money has languished in the Congressional coffers for years, but it has still been approved.

Please take a moment. Tell the city we want to have more areas to fish, not fewer, and certainly not to have to go underneath elevated park platforms to do it.

For a primer, listen to KPCC’s Larry Mantle’s “Air Talk” about the LA that runs around 20 minutes.

See you on the river, Jim Burns