January 4, 2013
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reintroducing native rainbow trout to the Kern River. Four water wells were recently drilled to serve as a back-up water source during adverse river conditions in preparation for the reintroduction. “This is an important phase of the project and represents a significant milestone in preserving the heritage species in the Kern River,” said CDFW senior fisheries Environmental Scientist Brian Beal. “Upgrading our facility to reintroduce native trout will offer great fishing opportunities, while providing economic benefits and encouraging tourism.”
The reintroduction program will focus on Kern River rainbow trout, a strain of rainbow trout endemic to the Kern River. Because of heavy angling pressure and non-native introductions over the last century, the native fish can only be found in remote isolated areas of the Kern River. As the program evolves, CDFW also plans to replace the existing non-native trout plants in the main stem Kern River and surrounding area with native trout. These non-native species include brown and other strains of rainbow trout that were planted over the years but not native to the river
Bad news for 2009 Salmon Season
Most of the fall run salmon return data is now available and the news is not good. It appears there can be no salmon fishing season in 2009. In 2007, 90,000 fall run fish returned to the Central Valley system to spawn. The fishing season was closed because a minimum of 121,000 returns are needed for the species to survive long term. In 2008, the returns are estimated to be only 60,000 fish, a 23% drop from 2007 and the 2008 fishing season was completely closed. The disaster deepens. Stakeholder groups are asking for another year of trucking hatchery fish around the delta to avoid the low water and delta problems. DFG, NMFS, and The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will truck again in 2009 but the levels are yet to be established. Water4fish.org.
If you’re interested in learning more about the state of California’s native trout and salmon, their history, biology, distribution, and status, there are a couple new reports available. CalTrout commissioned Dr Peter Moyle and the team at the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis to compile a report on the state of California’s 32 native salmonid species.
The full report Salmon, Steelhead, and Trout in California is the most up to date material on California salmonids. The 300+ pg document is available as a PDF file from www.caltrout.org There is also a shorter document also available there, more an executive summary of distribution, status, and risks by specie titled SOS: California’s Native Fish Crisis that probably covers most recreational fisheries interests (more maps and pictures). If you’ve ever wondered where to catch a particular trout or salmon native to California, these are the new definitive reference materials for your research.
Unfortunately the overall conclusion of the project is that many more of California’s native trout and salmon are threatened or endangered than most people realized. The documents also do a good service to explaining the risks to the long term survival of the fish, while leaving it mostly up to the reader to for their own policy decisions.
I will print up a few copies for the January meeting to include in the club library.