Cal Trout submits comments to the Commission regarding the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s proposed changes to the California inland trout angling regulations; includes comments specific to the Fall River Complex.
30 September 2020
President Eric Sklar
California Fish and Game Commission
PO Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
RE: California Inland Trout Fishing Regulation Change/Simplification Process
Dear President Sklar:
We are writing you again on behalf of our thousands of members, supporters, partners, and associated angling businesses across California, we thank you for your leadership and collaborative approach in simplifying the new Inland Trout angling regulations. We appreciate the significant efforts by Roger Bloom and his staff at the California Department of Fish & Wildlife to invite public input in this process.
Since our founding 50 years ago, California Trout has championed protection of our sensitive native and wild trout. Our organization fostered the development of the Wild & Heritage Trout Program at the Department of Fish and Game and has been a leader in conservation of salmonids across California for decades. We acknowledge the balancing act before the Department; namely conserving wild trout while increasing angling opportunities, participation in fishing, and maintaining opportunities to harvest trout where appropriate.
Unfortunately, the latest revision to the inland trout fishing regulations as of September 2020 does not adequately protect wild trout fisheries or meet stated management objectives in several world-renowned waters that make California a global fishing destination. For example, the world class Fall River fishery is defined by mostly catch-and-release fly angling. This unique spring-fed complex of outstanding water resources deserves adequate protection, yet the best available science is not being utilized to inform management of the fishery in the current proposed regulations.
The California Department of Fish & Wildlife, in concert with Fall River Conservancy, California Trout and the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences conduct annual mark-recapture surveys and genetic research on the thriving trout population that indicate a significant portion of spawning fish in Bear Creek reside in the Fall River, and are genetically distinct from their counterparts throughout the complex. It is for this reason that we strongly disagree with the current proposed regulations for the Fall River and Bear Creek before you.
The current proposed regulations alter the current fishing season and remove the 14″ minimum slot limit on trout to protect larger spawning broodstock. Instead, we request that the Commission adopt a unified regulation to adequately protect the genetically distinct trout in the unique Fall River complex, given inadequate population surveys on the Fall River Complex and the latest scientific and genetic information from UC Davis:
- Fall River Complex including Ahjumawi, Eastman Lake, Lava Springs, etc. and Bear Creek – We propose year-round angling season with barbless, artificial lures only; O fish daily bag (Option A, #6).
We also wish to reiterate our prior written and oral comments for the following waters:
- Truckee River: We propose adopting a year-round catch and release angling with artificial flies with barbless hooks(Option A, #7) for the reach from Trout Creek to Prosser Creek. This proposal would simplify the regulations for this reach by making them consistent with the existing fly-fishing-only reach from Glenshire Bridge to the Highway 80 Bridge while adequately protecting wild trout.
From Lake Tahoe to Trout Creek in Truckee and from Prosser Creek downstream to the Nevada state line, we request adoption of year-round catch and release angling only with artificial, barbless lures (Option A, #6). This regulation would help support sensitive wild trout populations, support angling-associated businesses and guides, and achieve the objectives of the Wild and Heritage Designation of the river
- Upper Sacramento River: Rather than using three different regulations for this river currently, we recommend adopting a unified regulation to support this wild trout-dominated fishery: year-round, 2 fish bag, barbless artificial lures only (Option A, ‘ #3). This would maintain harvest opportunities while adequately protecting the large spawning fish that migrate up from Shasta Lake and throughout the lower river downstream of Dunsmuir. This regulation will meet the primary management objective of the 2000 Fishery Management Plan for the Upper Sacramento River:
- East Walker River: We are advocating for catch and release angling year-round with barbless artificial lures (Option A, #6) on this very popular trophy wild trout fishery.
- Mokelumne River: We propose catch and release angling year-round with artificial, barbless lures (Option A, #6) from the Highway 49 Bridge downstream to Lake Pardee at Middle Bar Bridge. There are currently no catch and release fisheries in the Sierra Foothills, and it would serve to fill that gap.
- East Fork Carson River: We recommend maintaining catch and release regulations with artificial lures and barbless hooks (Option A, #6,) below Hangman Bridge to the Nevada state line. Under this proposal, this trophy trout fishery will continue to draw anglers to contribute to the local economy of Alpine County and meet stated management goals of the 1979 East Fork Carson River Wild Trout Management Plan.
Thank you for your careful consideration of these proposed amendments to the proposed revised inland trout fishing regulations. We look forward to continuing to work with you and the Department of Fish & Wildlife to ensure that California’s wild trout continue to thrive now and into the future.
Bay Area Director