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Striped Bass - CV's Most Popular Predator

By Erin Loury, FISHBIO
08/31/15 -- When it comes to sport fishing, passions can run high. One of our most viewed blog posts of all time is a post from 2011 called “Changes To California Striped Bass Regulations On The Table.” The post continues to attract a lot of traffic, presumably from anglers worried that new changes to fishing regulations are in the works. As the title implies, this post discussed a proposal by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to loosen fishing restrictions on striped bass. The goal of these proposed changes was to reduce the striped bass population and ease predation pressure on salmonids and Delta smelt in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta. The proposed regulations included raising the daily bag limit for striped bass from two to six fish, with a possession limit of 12 fish, and lowering the minimum size for striped bass from 18 to 12 inches. The proposal also included modified regulations at Clifton Court Forebay, a predation hot spot, with a proposed daily bag limit of 20 fish, a possession limit of 40 fish, and no size limit. During a series of public meetings regarding the proposed changes, striped bass fishermen voiced tremendous concern that this beloved sport fish would be extirpated if fishing regulations were loosened. The California Fish and Game Commission ultimately voted to reject changes to the fishing regulations in 2012.

Man holding Striped bass, photo courtesy of FISHBIO
Striped bass, photo courtesy of FISHBIO

Introduced into the San Francisco Bay in 1879 by the California Fish and Game Commission, striped bass quickly became established in the region. Within 10 years, they were abundant enough for a commercial fishery to develop. During the early 1900s, striped bass thrived alongside salmon, but as salmon declined over the latter part of the century, the impact of these introduced predators took a proportionally greater toll on the salmon population. However, convincing state regulators to allow increased fishing pressure on striped bass (and thus reduce their population) is a tough proposition because of the fish’s popularity. According to a California Department of Fish and Wildlife survey of anglers in 2010, striped bass are the most sought-after species in Central Valley rivers, with half of all angling effort (51%) targeting striped bass. According to the survey, anglers keep only about 14.5% of the striped bass they catch, meaning the rest are released and can continue eating native fish. Unfortunately for salmon advocates, native fish are losing the popularity contest. Yet economic analyses suggest that the total economic impact of salmon fishing in California far outweighs that of striped bass.

Central Valley Angler Survey from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010
Central Valley Angler Survey from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010

Controlling predators to help their prey species is not a new idea; other states have been controlling non-native and native predators

While these federal actions alone may not be sufficient to produce population increases in some threatened or endangered species, there is evidence that predation is a major barrier to salmon recovery, and the proposed legislation demonstrates a changing mindset toward controlling predation of declining species. Many other factors are related to the decline and recovery of threatened and endangered native species, including water supply, water diversion, water quality, habitat modification, fish passage, and harvest and hatchery practices. While non-native predators are not the sole cause of native fish declines, controlling predation is often one of the least expensive and quickest recovery actions to implement. Striped bass are highly prized by many anglers in California, and are often treated as a native or naturalized species. However, if salmon recovery is to be taken seriously, predator control should at least be tested on a watershed level. If these efforts do not result in increased abundances of threatened or endangered native species, policies could then be reversed. Perhaps the biggest hurdle to controlling non-native species like striped bass will be changing the mindset of the fishing community that cares deeply about these popular predators.

FISHBIO is a dedicated group of research scientists, engineers, and technicians that specialize in counting, tracking, and analyzing trends in fish and wildlife populations throughout the world. An expert staff, technical capacity, and state-of-the-art equipment make FISHBIO a trailblazer in aquatic research. For more information, please visit FISHBIO.com.


Fishing Reports

A Hot Summer’s Day on Chico Creek
A Hot Summer's Day on Chico Creek, Steven T. Callan
On Patrol by Steven T. Callan
07/25/16 -- I’ve been exploring Northern California’s streams -- above and below the surface -- for most of my life. One of my most memorable adventures took place on a hot summer’s day in 1964, not long after my sixteenth...Full Story
Brownie’s Choice
Art work by Isabella Langaman
By Don Webster
Disregard the story’s title. I don’t really have a “first” name. If I did, it would probably be something like Leviathan or Behemoth or maybe Lunker. Officially, I’m a trout. A brown trout. A giant, brown trout. Possibly the biggest, fattest...Full Story
Keddie Ridge
Scouting Deerheart Lake, photo by Phil Akers
Article and photos by Phil “Flip” Akers
11/14/15 -- Adjacent to both Lake Almanor and Mountain Meadows, between the towns of Westwood and Greenville, is a seemingly forgotten piece of backcountry; Keddie Ridge – aka Ridge World – where ancient rocks... Full Story
Let’s check out the Upper Sac
Lake Siskiyou with Mt. Shasta standing sentinel. photo by Phil Akers
Article and photos by Phil "Flip" Akers
09/06/15 -- The Upper Sacramento River – The Upper Sac – begins at Lake Siskiyou’s Box Canyon Dam and continues ~37 miles downstream to Lake Shasta. It is a classic freestone river born from the Mt. Shasta and Mt. Eddy... Full Story
How to make Tuscan Tuna Salad with Fennel By Frank Galusha
05/04/15 -- OK, you went ocean fishing. If your fish is fresh or if you have processed, vacuum packed and frozen your catch properly, there are many ways to enhance your meals. Almost everything taken from the ocean is not... Full Story
Climbing Terms for the Fisherman
Trailhead Tales by Jim Broshears
10/14/14 -- For those of us who prefer to fish the rugged and remote streams and rivers for the elusive wild trout, rock climbing is a skill that is required to reach the special places where catching the big one is a “sure thing.” The skills...Full Story
German brown trout afternoon in Modoc
german brown trout in Modoc creek. MyOutdoorBuddy.com
By Lea Huetteman
09/04/14 -- Catching a German Brown Trout from the creeks in Modoc County is a fine way to spend an afternoon. There are many creeks in this part of California that drain the Warner Mountains. Stream trout fishing in this region opens...Full Story
Throw the kitchen sink at them
Indian Paintbrush is a favorite wildflower that carpets wilderness landscapes. Phil Flip Akers, myoutdoorbuddy.com
Article and photos by Phil Akers
08/20/14 -- Our wilderness areas are special, where Mother Nature is landlord and natural forces operate freely. Within the wilderness you will find no roads, shelters, picnic tables, toilets, or other conveniences. You enter at...Full Story
Humboldt Bay: Busy port, excellent fishery
Woodley Island Marina, Humboldt Bay, Eureka, California
03/06/04 -- Humboldt Bay, a busy commercial harbor and home port to many charter and private offshore fishing boats, is also popular with shore-based anglers and small boaters seeking bottomfish, sharks, crabs and clams...Full Story
Pulled into the pipes: Green Sturgeon
green sturgeon
By Erin Loury, FISHBIO
03/04/14 -- [Posted with permission of FISHBIO] Living in the Sacramento River can be a risky business for juvenile green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris). The young fish must swim through a gauntlet of water... Full Story
Not Just Any Fish
California Golden Trout, California Heritage Trout Challenge, Not Just Any Fish, Phil
By Phil "Flip" Akers
02/14/13 -- Trout have inhabited California waters from the Sierra Nevada and Warner Mountains to the Pacific Ocean since prehistoric times. However, most of the trout caught by anglers are either hatchery raised fish...Full Story

 

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