By Gary Applebee

Last weekend after the Steelhead Science for Anglers symposium there was a meeting at Chili’s for a new conservation group. Well, not really a new group just a concerted effort to get many different people working together instead of separately on the San Gabriel River Monument. If you haven’t heard, President Obama signed a bill to make the San Gabriel Rivers into a monument. This encompasses the West Fork, North Fork, and the East Forks of the San Gabriel Rivers as well as some of the forest around the rivers.

The group talked about some of the problems on the San Gabriel River Monument. One of the members from the Pasadena Casting Club said the West Fork was being used as a city park. I thought that was a pretty accurate description of the West Fork’s usage. People walk and ride bikes up along the paved road that follows the river. On the weekends there can be up to 20,000 people swimming and playing in the river, FRVC and the USFS’s numbers. The flows on the West Fork River are down to a trickle. Pot Farms are on all three forks as they are on all our rivers. They talked about the numbers of people that are homeless and living up on the East Fork. Some of them are miners and some are squatters. The over use of Bungee America was discussed. Bungee America can have 200 or more people going back a day to bungee jump the Bridge to Nowhere. They discussed the proposed Cattle Canyon Project that will be coming up on the East Fork Canyon. There are problems of mining and pot farms up Cattle Canyon as well. If you grew up fishing the West Fork as a kid then this is something you might want to get involved with.

I met Jim Burns from LA River Fly Fishing: whose motto is; Fishing for carp, waiting for steelhead. I hadn’t heard of his blog, but read it after this meeting and I like his writing, give it a read. He’ll be writing for this group as well. I’ll be passing on their news blasts as they come.
I had hoped this would be a foothills group that would look at the problems of San Antonio Creek, Lytle Creek, Deep Creek, Santa Ana River, and Bear Creek. But, as you can see by the name they pretty much only want to talk about the San Gabriel River Monument. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good thing and if you fish on any of the three forks of the San Gabriel Rivers, it is long over due. Was I disappointed, maybe a little? I could list the problems creek-by-creek, but if you have fished locally you know what they are, the flows are down on all our creeks, people fishing the creeks in 100 degree weather, painting graffiti on the rocks, having parties on and in the creek then leaving their trash, silt accumulating, pot farms, and using these creeks for target practice. These aren’t issues only on the San Gabriel River. They are issues for all our creeks.

By Gary Applebee

Last weekend, Sept. 26th, I went to a symposium for anglers on steelhead. It was held at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. This symposium was put on by Trout Unlimited (TU), Caltrout, and Wild Steelheaders United and started at noon on the hottest day of the week. About fifty people showed up in a room by the Steelhead exhibit. Sandra Jacobson (Caltrout) and Sam Donaldson (TU) started off with an overview of what we would hear and see for the day. The Southern Steelhead was listed as Endangered in 1998. This day all the talks would be science based in language anglers could understand without getting bored.

First up was John McMillan from TU. He talked about the Steelhead Science: O.mykiss diversity and resiliency. He lives up on the Olympic Peninsula by the Hoh River and Sol Duc Rivers. The steelhead and the rainbow trout are the same species. No one can figure out why one goes to the ocean and the other stays home to become a resident trout. John talked about the behavior of steelhead when spawning. He also had a video of a six inch resident rainbow fertilizing the eggs by sneaking under two big males fighting over the female.
Then Mark Capelli from NOAA talked about the Endangered Steelhead and Recovery Plan Recovery. The Southern Steelhead starts up by the Santa Maria River and goes all the way to the Mexican border in the Tijuana River. There are 5 bio-geographical areas in this region. There are 22 million people in the area and since 1994 only 147 steelhead have been counted. Mark talked about the Santa Margarita River and the work going on there. He talked about barriers such as dams, culverts, storm drains, and others stopping steelhead from going to their spawning grounds.

Mary Larson from the CADFW talked about SoCal Trout Angling Opportunities and Regional Southern Steelhead Recovery Actions. Like reestablishing natural production, reestablishing a self-sustaining population of steelhead and enhancing angling opportunities and consumptive uses. The CADFW wants anglers to be able to fish for steelhead. Mary works on Habitat Assessment (conducts assessments, evaluate barriers and develop watersheds) and Watershed Restoration, which are (educate and outreach to communities, develop projects with land owners and municipalities, implement barrier removals and stream restorations). They get some money from Prop 1 that will be available for thirty years.

Sabrina Drill (University of California Cooperative Ext) talked about Southern California Steelhead Research and Monitoring: Coastal Salmonid Monitoring Program and Protocols. Sabrina was the one to tell us that since 1994 147 adult steelhead fish have been counted. There needs to be 4,150 for us to be able to fish for steelhead in southern California waters. This can take from 75 years to 100 years. The Southern California steelhead can tolerate water up to 25-28 degrees Celsius; 29 degrees Celsius is about 70 degrees. The Southern Steelhead is resilient and has to be to survive our summer temperatures and droughts (very low water in the streams).

Dana McCanne CADFW talked about Steelhead Monitoring and the Role of Native Rainbow Trout in Steelhead Recovery. Dana works with landowners to get access to monitor steelhead. As you can guess many don’t want to talk to him, some do. Dana talked to us about how holding a steelhead out of the water for a Grip and Grin photo affects the steelhead spawn. If I remember right, 3-10 seconds out of the water can stop a steelhead from spawning.
Drew Irby and George Sunderland (Steelhead United and TU South Coast Chapter) talked about how you should handle a big fish, be it a steelhead or other species of fish. There was talk of how to net a fish. How to set up for that Grip and Grin IF you have to have it. Like, get the camera set up with the fish in a net and ready to take the photo. Then a quick one, two, three count and lift the fish click the picture try for less than a second and back in the water. Underwater photos are the best. Keep the gills and fish wet. How a fish flopping on the bank can give the fish brain damage.

Check out the LA River blog, to read a better article about this event. I like his motto, “Fishing for carp, waiting for steelhead.”

The Undamming of America
By Anna Lieb on Wed, 12 Aug 2015

pbs next

Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River

 Gordon Grant didn’t really get excited about the dam he blew up until the night a few weeks later when the rain came. It was October of 2007, and the concrete carnage of the former Marmot Dam had been cleared. A haphazard mound of earth was the only thing holding back the rising waters of the Sandy River. But not for long. Soon the river punched through, devouring the earthen blockade within hours. Later, salmon would swim upstream for the first time in 100 years.


Read More: PBS.ORG

Posted on August 13, 2015 by UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences




Groundwater users in the Main San Gabriel Basin clashed with downstream users as the region transitioned from citrus groves to sprawling suburbia. The competing interests eventually worked out a court-approved agreement over pumping rights after a series of difficult and exhausting negotiations. Photos: San Gabriel Valley in 1900 and in modern times. Sources: Covina Citrus Industry Photographs, Covina Public Library; Wikipedia

By Erik Porse

Under California’s new groundwater law, local agencies must adopt long-term plans for sustainably managing basins subject to critical overdraft. Preparing these plans will be challenging, requiring collaboration and compromise among water users accustomed to pumping as they please.

Local agencies do not know exactly what they’re in for. They’ve never been responsible for achieving “sustainable groundwater management,” as the law requires. However, the histories of adjudicated basins in the Los Angeles area can be instructive. They illustrate the difficult and exhaustive process required in reaching agreement among unregulated groundwater pumpers.

Read More: California Water Blog