MyOutdoorBuddy.com, Fishing News
New Feature

Click on Columnists  to access travelogues, field reports, advice, humorous tales and answers to your Q’s! 





Products-Services


Website of the Week

                                





Dwindling smelt numbers mount up

By Erin Loury, FISHBIO
02/03/16 -- The good news is we were wrong last summer. The Threatened Delta smelt isn't extinct, or at least it wasn't in mid-January when the California Department of Fish and Wildlife found some in the western Sacramento Delta.

The bad news: CDFW's mid-January trawls -- referred to by the agency as Spring Kodiak Trawls, after the Kodiak nets used by biologists -- found just a handful of the three-inch fish: four males and three females. That's the lowest count for January since Kodiak trawling began in 2002: less than half the number found in 2015's January trawl, and less than one-twentieth 2014's numbers. The startlingly low January smelt census follows similarly low counts in late 2015: A total of six Delta smelt were found in the state's Fall Midwater Trawls between September and December. The 2015 Fall Midwater Trawl count was the lowest on record as well.

Delta Smelt, Phto courtesy of FISHBIO
Delta smelt, photo courtesy of FISHBIO

That's not good news for a fish that may well be the California species hit hardest by the ongoing drought. And that drought is just the capper: water exports, pollution, increasing water temperatures and competition from invasive species have all worked together to bring the Delta smelt to the edge of extinction.

Losing the smelt seemed increasingly inevitable even before the poor showing in January. "It seems to be about whether (smelt) are going to be extirpated in the wild in one, five or 10 years, not whether they have a real future in the system," fisheries biologist Peter Moyle told the Stockton Record in late December.

The smelt, Hypomesus transpacificus, is found only in the San Francisco Bay Delta. There, it sticks to brackish water areas where freshwater from the Sacramento River and its tributaries mix with tidally driven seawater from the Golden Gate. Water diversions for agricultural and urban use reduce the amount of freshwater in the Delta, making much of the Delta region too salty for the smelt.

It makes sense that drought, which reduces the availability of freshwater in the system even further, would be really hard on Delta smelt. And since the smelt has a lifespan of a single year, a crash in population like this year's runs a good chance of being permanent. Permanent, meaning extinction.

That's extinction in the wild, mind you. UC Davis maintains a captive population of Delta smelt at its Fish Conservation and Culture Laboratory in the Delta town of Byron; that population numbered about 20,000 last year. (About the number that one 19th Century fishing boat could harvest in a single pull of its nets.) Some smelts from that lab are sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Livingston Stone National Fish Hatchery north of Redding, where they serve as a vital backup.

Rearing Delta smelt in captivity is a crucial backup, and it's not without its complications. The water's salinity has to be carefully controlled, as does its temperature: too warm and the fish will suffer. Newly hatched smelts won't eat commercially available fish food, so the facilities raise live food for them as well -- mostly rotifers and brine shrimp.The fish are moved from tank to tank at the Fish Conservation and Culture Laboratory as they grow, and spawning is carefully managed among more than 200 separated populations of the fish in order to minimize inbreeding.

It's a lot of work, and the smelt are a lot harder to raise than many other species of fish. Still, the breeding programs do constitute a hedge against the species' extinction in the wild. But none of those captive-bred smelts will be put back in the wild anytime soon. As long as we continue to damage the smelt's wild habitat, those captive-bred fish will stay safe in their tanks to keep the species going.

There's a chance that this season's heavy rains may offer a bit of a reprieve for the smelt: if El Niño continues to bring rain and snow to Northern California through March and April, that will mean additional fresh water in the Sacramento, and smelt spawning has historically spiked in wet years. But in order for the fish to spawn and create a new generation of Delta smelt, they have to be there in the first place. If a wet year allows the smelt in the Delta to triple their numbers from this year, that still leaves them perilously close to extinction.

But not this month. This month, there are still wild smelt in the Delta. Next month? Who knows?

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

 

Your outdoor adventures have only just begun
Northern California Fishing News, Northern California Hunting Reports

Fishing News

Northern California and Southern Oregon offer superb fresh and saltwater fishing. Before you make a trip, make sure you have
up-to-date news about where the fish are biting!

Hunting News

This region is also famous for its world-class hunting opportunities. Make sure you are armed with the absolute latest news by checking
the reports being filed daily at MyOutdoorBuddy.com.

Northern California Outdoor News, Northern California Outdoor Reports Outdoor News 

If you like to explore the great outdoors your choices are essentially infinite in Northern California and Southern Oregon. Use our news pages to plan your next outing!

Northern California Destination News, Northern California Destination Reports

Destinations

So many places to visit and so little time, but if you scan
these pages you'll know in advance what lies ahead and what
not to miss in the almost-mythical State of Jefferson.
Buddy Photos

You are there! Towering mountains, vast valleys, unique shorelines. Land, water and air bursting with life. Opportunity presents itself. Llghting is right. Click! An image is captured for the ages.

Photo Galleries, MyOutdoorBuddy.com

Photo Galleries

A preview of coming attractions...if you are planning a trip to this area be forewarned: What photographers have captured will whet your appetite for what will be an outdoor journey filled with wonders.  

Product & Services Directory

Don't let anything come between you and a wonderful weekend, vacation or or auto tour in this region. The fine product and services providers listed here will have what you need to enjoy your visit.  

Come back to MyOutdoorBuddy.com for more Northern California and Southern Oregon fishing, hunting and outdoor news, reports, information, opinions and photos.

Facebook

A friend to all who love the outdoors since 2006

Website Design Photo Credits: MyOutdoorBuddy.com thanks the following individuals for contributing photographs for use on our Home and Section pages: Anders Tomlinson of Tule-Lake.com, Casey Allen of Bayside, CA; Jason Haley of Medford, OR; Steve Breth of Burney, CA; Tracy McCormack of Eureka, CA; Grant Thompson of Grand Junction, CO; Richard Bott of Shingletown, CA; Ron Loftus of Yreka, CA; Scott Caldwell of Montague, CA; Lorissa Soriano of Alturas, CA and the late Dave Menke, formerly with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Website Design by Anders Tomlinson

©Copyright 2005-2015 by Frank Galusha, Editor and Publisher. Articles and photos are copyright protected and are published exclusively on the Internet by the publisher and may not be copied, displayed, reproduced or published in any other form without the express written permission of same who reserves all rights. Material supplied by others is the copyrighted property of the respective authors. Re-use of any MyOutdoorBuddy content, graphics and photos without written permission by the author(s) for any purpose is strictly prohibited.