California imposes emergency, temporary fishing closures to protect salmon and steelhead from drought impacts

The Steelhead Whisperer won't be able to fish his beloved home water for steelhead for a while under today's temporary closure of California coastal streams to fishing to protect salmon and steelhead from drought impacts.


By Sam Davidson

Today the CA Department of Fish & Wildlife implemented emergency restrictions on fishing for salmon and steelhead in many coastal rivers in response to dangerously low streamflows due to the current drought.

Here is a statement from Brian Johnson, TU's California State Director, on the news:

"Today, due to the current extreme drought conditions and unprecedented low streamflows in many rivers and creeks, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife took emergency action to protect salmon and steelhead runs in California coastal streams from the Oregon border south to Morro Bay.  The Department imposed temporary closures to fishing on most coastal rivers in the south-central, central, and north coast regions, and requested that the Fish and Game Commission temporarily close others.  Most coastal rivers open for winter steelhead fishing in California are now closed to angling, although closures may be lifted if we receive enough rain and snow to boost streamflows and allow safe passage for anadromous fish.

"There is no doubt that the current critically dry conditions forcing water conservation measures around the state are also harming California’s salmon and steelhead, whose populations are already severely diminished from their historic levels due to dams, water diversions, pollution, and loss of habitat.  In times like these, we must act responsibly and assertively to conserve these iconic native fish.  For some weeks, Trout Unlimited, many professional fishing guides, and other sportsmen’s groups have been encouraging anglers not to fish for steelhead and salmon in waters such as the Russian and lower American rivers, where low flows are impeding fish migration, forcing large concentrations of fish into pockets of deeper water, and exposing redds (nests), until conditions improve.

"American anglers have a long and proud history of supporting conservation measures – even those which restrict fishing opportunities -- to protect and restore cold water fisheries in this country.  Anglers strongly support existing catch and take limits, restricted angling seasons, and low flow requirements to protect salmon and steelhead.  But desperate times call for desperate measures.  While we cannot make it rain, anglers and fisheries managers can and must take additional action to reduce the impacts of the drought on salmon and steelhead.  The new emergency closures are a reasonable conservation action given the historically dry conditions which currently prevail in California."

~Brian Johnson, California Director, Trout Unlimited


Here is the press release from CDFW:


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