Inland trout regulations
CDFW PROPOSED CHANGES
The CDFW is proposing a series of updates to the regulations that govern inland trout angling. Everything is listed in https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Inland/Trout-Plan/Regulation-Simplification, which includes the specific changes to specific waters and a description of the process for counter proposals.
The bad news is that many of our favorite waters for trout fishing are having their protections reduced or in some cases dropped to the lowest level. https://www.redwoodempire-tu.org/cdfw-inland-trout-regulation-changes is a helpful link that shows the current and proposed regulations for most waters side by side for easier understanding. The good news is that the CDFW is working with the public and have already amended their proposal towards regulations that are more agreeable.
It is critical that our members take the time to read and understand the new regulations and propose reasonable counter regulations using the CDFW comment form (https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Inland/Trout-Plan/Regulation-Simplification/comments) BY MAY 3, 2019, which is just a few days away. Your suggestions must be clear, professional, justified and use options from the CDFW provided "menu" of 6 possible seasons and 6 gear/take restrictions. While we encourage you to do this for any and all waters, specifically listed or otherwise, our primary focus is on four areas:
The Golden Trout Wilderness (excluding the Kern River) -- the proposal removes the gear restrictions entirely and extends the season until February. In combination with the 5 fish limit, it is likely that the few fish that remain here will suffer even more.
Tributaries of the Kern River (Kern and Tulare Counties) -- these waters were previously somewhat protected by the "Sierra District" regulations which had them closed during a portion of the year (Tulare only), but under the CDFW proposal they will have no specific protection and will fall under the generic "7.0 statewide" regulations 5 fish bag, no gear restrictions, open year round.
The Kern River from the Fairview dam up to Johnsondale bridge -- this stretch of water has never had any particular protections and had the same restrictions as the rest of the 20 mile section of the Kern (5 fish, no gear restrictions). We know this stretch to be the home and spawning grounds of the Kern River Rainbow, a fish that the CDFW is working to reintroduce to the Kern River. By extending the same regulations that are proposed for above the Johnsondale bridge we have the opportunity to preserve and extend the home to these truly special fish
The South Fork Kern RIver -- these waters are not listed in any of CDFW’s proposals which means that they will have no specific protection and will fall under the generic "7.0 statewide" regulations 5 fish bag, no gear restrictions, open year round. There are not enough fish to sustain regulations like this and these areas have suffered enough.
SSFFC COUNTER PROPOSAL
To assist in this effort we are providing some text you can use as the basis for your counter proposals for each water and the statewide regulation (each limited to 250 words). Members can copy and paste the text below into the CDFW Comment Form. Note: You must submit the form once for every water in question.
These comments truly matter and if we don't comment now we run the risk of having protections stripped bare. The time to act is NOW!
While the CDFW’s proposed statewide regulation does simplify angling regulations, it poses a serious threat to these trout fisheries in combination with a variety of other factors. Without a regulation restricting the number of hooks, the use of multiple barbed treble hooks and possibly bait may result in increased fish mortality due to increased complications when unhooking fish. The high fish bag counts are unnecessarily high for one angler -- one or two fish is plenty for a meal for one or two people. The doubly high possession counts will undoubtedly result in wasted fish, as without proper handling, cleaning and refrigeration, these fish, particularly hatchery trout, spoil and become unappetizing quickly. As evidenced by fisheries programs in other states, by increasing protections for native or naturally occurring trout and reducing or eliminating the stocking of costly, oversized, deformed and bland-tasting pellet fed hatchery trout, fish populations can sustain themselves and thrive, bringing more anglers naturally. Lastly, because there are far too many vital waters not listed, these overly broad and unnecessarily lax restrictions will threaten countless native trout populations in the name of simplification and increasing license sales.
(71) Golden Trout Wilderness Area (Tulare Co.), excluding the main stem Kern River (see subsection 7.50(b)(86), and the Tule River drainage (See subsection 7.50(b)(197)).
Saturday preceding Memorial Day through September 30, 0 fish bag, artificial lures with barbless hooks. The Golden Trout Wilderness (GTW) is the only home to a variety of small but beautiful native fish found nowhere else in the world. This includes the Little Kern Golden Trout which is currently listed as threatened. This also includes the state fish of California, the Golden Trout, which is listed as critically imperiled. These picturesque areas have suffered in the past due to drought, global warming, fires and cattle grazing, and the small fish that inhabit these waters are already few enough. The CDFW proposed regulations remove all restrictions and keep this area open year round which would almost certainly lower the fish populations even lower than they already are. This area is truly unique and an absolute gem that California should protect -- people travel from around the world to visit and fish this area.
South Fork Kern River
Saturday preceding Memorial Day through September 30, 0 fish bag, artificial lures with barbless hooks. Much like the Golden Trout Wilderness, the South Fork Kern River is also home to the critically imperiled Golden Trout and hybridized variants, and has suffered similar impacts due to drought, etc, exacerbated by the allowance of off road vehicles which are routinely found driving or parking in the river itself, destroying vital fish habitat through muddied waters and pollution. The CDFW proposed regulations remove all restrictions and keep this area open year round which would almost certainly lower the fish populations even lower than they already are. This area is truly unique and an absolute gem that California should protect -- people travel from around the world to visit and fish this area
All tributaries of the (North Fork) Kern River in Kern and Tulare counties, excluding those in GTW.
Saturday preceding Memorial Day through September 30, 0 fish bag, artificial lures with barbless hooks. These creeks -- Salmon, Brush, Bull Run, Clicks, Fish and Alder creeks to name just a few -- are home to the Kern River Rainbow Trout, a species of rainbow trout found nowhere else in the world and one that the CDFW is actively working to help reintroduce into the Kern River by taking brood stock from waters much like these. Peppermint creek is the only creek known to be stocked and precious few of the native fish are left in many parts of this creek, outcompeted or otherwise forced out by trucks full of fish that are dumped here or taken by catch and keep anglers looking to fill their limit of 5 fish. The CDFW proposed regulations provide no protections for these waters which were previously covered in part by regulations under the Sierra District and it is feared that without protections many of the creeks will suffer similar fates -- fewer fish and the cascading effect this could have.
(86) Kern River (Kern and Tulare Cos.) (D) from the Fairview dam upstream to the Johnsondale Bridge
Saturday preceding Memorial Day through last day in February, 2 fish bag, artificial lures. The goal here is to extend the regulations that currently exist or will exist after the updates to the section above the Johnsondale Bridge (aka “(86) Kern River (Kern and Tulare Cos.) (B) From Johnsondale bridge upstream to the point where U.S. Forest Service Trail 33E30 heads east to join the Rincon Trail”) ~2 miles down to the Fairview dam which provides a distinct physical barrier. This stretch and the waters above are the prime home of the Kern River Rainbow trout and is an area frequented by spawning native fish. By extending these protections we will help protect a fish that is already threatened and that the CDFW is working to help restore. Additionally, the Kern River is part of the national Wild and Scenic Rivers act which is designed to protect rivers with outstandingly remarkable fish values, among other things. By extending these regulations downstream to the Fairview dam we will be able to provide additional protected waters that represent a particularly vital and highly visited/fished section.