California Hatcheries – More Harm than Good?

Are California hatcheries negatively impacting the very species they are meant to sustain? Last week’s issue of The Fish Report from FishBio delves into the much researched issue.

But while the fish production of California’s hatcheries is both immense and technologically impressive, there remain uncertainties about how effectively these artificially sustained populations can serve as surrogates for their wild counterparts. It may seem illogical that hatcheries could actually impact the very species they are meant to proliferate; however, many studies have raised concerns about hatchery practices, backed up by empirical evidence.

At California Trout we believe that abundant wild fish mean a better California and we work to solve the state’s complex resource issues while balancing the needs of people and wild fish.  As this report notes, the hatchery program serves a purpose and keeps the commercial salmon industry on life support. However, we need to improve the checks and balances to ensure that California’s wild salmon and steelhead populations are not collateral damage.


Important Water Talks Begin

2014 was a monumental year for water policy in California with passage of the $7.5 billion dollar water bond and the groundbreaking Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.  Last week kicked off important talks and planning sessions to bring these to fruition. 

As outlined in the Circle of Blue story here, the California Water Commission began establishing guidelines for the $2.7 billion water-infrastructure “storage” projects at the heart of the $7.5 billion bond. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) held the first of two public meetings to unveil their Stormwater Capture Master Plan.

CalTrout will be monitoring the talks closely to ensure the outcomes balance the needs of people and wild fish.

This Sacramento Bee op-ed by Andrew Fahlund, deputy director of the California Water Foundation, also offers a good overview of the meetings and nails why CalTrout believes that abundant wild fish mean healthy waters and healthy waters mean a better California.

It may surprise people to learn that ecosystems are an important part of California’s water system. Forests are the source of more than 60 percent of the state’s water. Wetlands filter and store water as well as temper flooding. Loss of those natural resources and associated benefits creates a “regulatory vulnerability” to our water system. Investments through the bond are available to protect and enhance natural infrastructure.

Read more here.


The Week’s Newsbytes

A salmon success story during the California drought

The Shasta River is an important and productive spring creek tributary to the Klamath River. As the last major tributary to the Klamath River before Iron Gate Dam, the salmon and steelhead populations here will be the primary sources to recolonize above the Klamath dams once they are removed in 2020. Populations of coho salmon are low and there is increased pressure for private landowners to take action to improve habitat for this species.

To address this conflict, CalTrout, The Nature Conservancy and the Farm Bureau have been working with 10 landowners to identify incentives for private landowners to improve conditions for coho salmon through a state and federal Safe Harbor Agreement.

The success story of Big Springs Creek, a tributary to Shasta River, as reported in the California WaterBlog,  is a harbinger of the things to come from CalTrout’s and partners’ current work.

With habitat recovery in Shasta Basin now underway, other basin landowners can help sustain it. Salmon restoration efforts in the region already enjoy broad support and collaboration among public, private and non-profit entities. Several measures are already established, including controls on irrigation runoff, removal of barriers to fish passage and water transactions that increase streamflows for fish at biologically important times.

Conservation activities at the basin scale are necessary to develop and maintain salmon and steelhead habitat. However, certain ecologically important river reaches are paramount to successful recovery. Good stewardship of these critical reaches leverages the value of all conservation efforts in the basin.

Click to read the full article.


Crack Down on Deadbeat Dams

Our friends at Patagonia and Save Our Wild Salmon are petitioning President Obama to take down the deadbeat dams.  Join the movement at

dead beat dams


2nd Annual Humboldt Steelhead Days


hsd logo

California Trout and partner organization, Mad River Alliance are hosting Humboldt Steelhead Days, a 2-week celebration of Steelhead spawned in the cold clean waters of California’s north coast.

Register online for Humboldt Steelhead Days and be eligible to win more than $3,000 in cash & prizes!

Prizes include: Thule Roof Racks, Amerigas Crab Pots and Burners, Cabela’s Fly Rods, All Kinds of Fishing Gear from RMI Outdoors, Pacific Outfitters and Mckinleyville Ace Home & Garden Center, a $400 Guided Drift Boat Trip with Kenny Priest of Fishing the North Coast and a $400 Guided Drift Boat Trip with Micah Woolworth from Rivers Edge Fishing, Kokatat Personal Floatation Devices and more to come!

With your ticket: Entry to Awards Dinner ($25 value) catered by Blackberry Bramble BBQ and featuring award-winning Mad River Brewing Co’s Steelhead Extra Pale Ale.

You’ll also receive FREE one-year memberships to Mad River Alliance and California Trout ($70 value) and entrance to all the Mad River Family Fun Day’s fishing workshops on Saturday, Jan 24 at the Blue Lake Business Park.


Humboldt County Registration Outlets: Mad River Bait & Tackle, Arcata, RMI Outdoors (formerly Redwood Marine) in Eureka, Pacific Outfitters (Arcata & Eureka) and Grundmans Sporting Goods in Rio Dell.

* This two week family-fun fishing event encourages participants to get outside, learn about our watersheds, and to fish both the Mad River and the Eel River for either hatchery steelhead in the Mad, or wild steelhead in the Eel. (You don’t have to participate for the full two-weeks, you can fish for one day, two days, etc., It’s up to you!)


For more info, visit Mad River Alliance or California Trout or visit our Mad River Alliance Facebook page for up to date information on this Humboldt event!

You can also register by mail or email to:
Mad River Alliance at P.O. Box 1252, Blue Lake, CA 95525
or email:


Friday, Jan. 23 @ 6pm – 9pm (Free with HSD ticket)
Kick Off Party at Mad River Brewing Company‘s Tap Room
Last minute sign-ups, meet the competition, raffle & prizes!

Saturday, Jan. 24 @ 7am (Free with HSD ticket)
Fishing contests begin at 7am Saturday Jan. 24 & runs till 5 pm on Feb. 7
• Catch & keep a hatchery steelhead fishing contest on the Mad River
(map & boundaries can be emailed to you)
• Catch & release steelhead fishing contest on the Eel River
(map & boundaries can be emailed to you)
** Note: The Eel River is a catch & release river and the wild steelhead should be photographed in the water. Anglers should avoid taking fish out of the water if they can. Please revive your fish before releasing them.

Saturday, Jan. 24 @ 1pm – 4pm (Free with HSD ticket)
Mad River Family Fun Day in the Blue Lake Business Park
• Learn how to rig for steelhead like a pro
• Learn humane catch & release techniques from Shane Anderson
• Family Fun Fish tales for toddlers and Fish themed music
• Arts & crafts throughout the day for the kids
• Redwood Edventures Quests Take the kids on a scavenger hike through the Redwoods.
Then win a prize at the end!

Saturday, Jan. 24 @  7:30pm – 9:30pm
Carlo Theater, Dell Arte Building
Family friendly variety show and “Fish Tales 2,” cabaret show hosted by Dell’ Arte International.
Tickets for this event: Adults $10, Kids $5.

Saturday, Feb. 7 @ 6pm – 10pm (Free with HSD ticket)
Wharfinger Building near the Public Pier in Eureka
Awards & Tri-Tip Dinner ($25 value!) catered by Blackberry Bramble BBQ
Keynote Speaker: Mikey Wier is a Patagonia fly fishing ambassador and the owner of Burl Productions, his video production business.
Prizes & Awards  • Local Microbrews from Mad River Brewing Co • Steelhead Slideshow • Steelhead Vineyards Wine


Other fun events to attend during Humboldt Steelhead Days:

January 30 @ 7pm: 
The International Fly Fishing Film Festival at the Arcata Theater Lounge.
Tickets $20 — $5 student discount and $5 Humboldt Steelhead Days ticket discount at door.
January 31 @ 12pm: 
Presentation on Salmon and Steelhead in the Eel River at the Redwoods State Park Interpretive Center on Ave of Giants near Weott.
January 31 @ at 5pm: 
Presentation on Salmon and Steelhead in the Eel River, Fish Tacos, and a Raffle at the Monday Club in Fortuna.
February 6 @ 6pm:
Friends of the Arcata Marsh sponsored talk “Arcata Marsh – The History of a Salmonid Fish Hatchery” at the Arcata Marsh Interpretive Center.

The Week’s Newsbytes

The Week’s Newsbytes

For California Salmon, Drought And Warm Water Mean Trouble

Today’s article by Alastair Bland in Yale Environment 360 provides a sobering overview of the challenges faced by California’s steelhead and salmon. It also exemplifies why we at California Trout work to protect the clean, cold water streams for the benefit of fish and people.

Now, scientists — who are observing increasing human demand for water, genetic decline of hatchery-reared salmon, and climate change models predicting intensified droughts — are concerned that the Chinook salmon will be unable to tolerate future river conditions and will all but vanish from California’s landscape.

To read the full article, click here. 

The Week’s Newsbytes