The California Fish and Game Commission recently adopted
emergency regulations that grant the California Department of Fish and Wildlife
authority to temporarily close fisheries experiencing degraded environmental
conditions that may affect fish populations.
As the effects of the current drought on California’s
wildlife continue to mount, CDFW will be using a suite of criteria and
associated triggers to guide fishing closure and reopening decisions.
Criteria used in any evaluation include water temperature, dissolved
oxygen levels, fish passage, water levels and fish population size.
Although the Commission adopted the regulations, the
department’s decision to close or open a fishery is discretionary and will be
based on the most current information collected during site-specific monitoring
efforts by professional staff.
Priority will be given to listed fish species, species of
special concern and game fish.
Although some waters may exhibit conditions that meet the
criteria and sets of triggers established by the Commission, CDFW will focus
its discretionary authority for closing waters that provide coldwater refuge
and essential habitat for species of greatest conservation need.
Prior to any closure, CDFW will solicit input from local
stakeholders and provide information on the approach. CDFW will consider
fishing closures as a last resort, and urges all those who fish California’s
waters to adopt good preventative practices now.
“Anglers can help keep our wild trout thriving by using good
judgment,” said CDFW Fisheries Branch Chief Stafford Lehr. “Fish earlier and
stop earlier in the day during these hot summer days ahead.”
Aquatic wildlife is especially vulnerable as stream flows
decrease and instream water temperatures increase. These conditions cause added
stress and can affect growth and survival. In waters open to angling which may
experience elevated daytime water temperatures (greater than 70 degrees
Fahrenheit) the best opportunity for anglers to fish would be during the early
morning hours after the warm water has cooled overnight and before the heat of
the day increases water temperatures.
“Please pay attention to water conditions when you are
fishing and when planning your fishing trips,” said CDFW Inland Fisheries
Program Manager Roger Bloom. “Afternoon and evening water temperatures may be
too warm to ensure fish being released will survive the added stress cause by
warmer water that builds up during hot days in summer and fall.”
Many of California’s anglers have adopted catch-and-release
fishing methods. Careful handling of a trout and proper catch-and-release
techniques can ensure fish don’t experience serious exhaustion or injury.
However, catch-and-release fishing during afternoon and
early evening in streams and lakes with elevated water temperatures may
increase stress, hinder survival and increase mortality.
Proper catch-and-release fishing techniques include:
-- Using a stream
thermometer and check water temperatures often
-- Avoiding fishing during periods when water temperatures
exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit (likely afternoon to late evening)
-- Using barbless hooks whenever possible
-- Playing hooked fish quickly and avoiding extensive
-- Using a landing net
-- Wetting your hands, your net and other materials that may
come in contact with the fish
-- Not touching the gills
-- Keeping fish fully submerged and upright and allowing it
to swim away under its own power
Anglers interested in pursuing California’s unique native
trout should be especially careful this summer and fall when targeting high
elevation streams. Many of the existing native cutthroat, redband and golden
trout populations are relegated to small headwater streams which likely will
experience low water levels and elevated temperatures.