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All deer tags must be returned to DFW by the end of January


Don’t be that guy?

This is the second year all deer hunters in California have been required to return their deer tags (or fill out a brief on-line report/survey) to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, but there are still some 40,000 of the 176,000-plus hunters issued tags who had not complied with the requirement yet.

There is one thing different this year. You will be assessed a fee or penalty when you apply for this year’s deer tag if you don’t report the results of your 2016 hunt.

The 40,000 hunters who don’t do the simply on-line reporting will whine come deer application time later this year that they have to pay a fee for not helping the agency with simple information gathering about harvest. The fee is $21.60.

“We don’t want this money, we want the information on the report cards even if hunters were unsuccessful,” said Craig Stowers, statewide deer coordinator for the DFW.

But all of us know “that guy” who will howl about the penalty come June application time. So the DFW is asking all deer hunters to make sure their hunting partners have either returned their deer tags or gone on-line and reported for the 2016 hunting season.

The direct link to conduct the on-line reporting is the same as for purchasing licenses and tags: It can be completed in just a matter of minutes.

Don’t be that guy.

Willow Beach hatchery trout

plants resume on Colorado River

After a four-year bureaucratic stoppage, rainbow trout are again being raised at the Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery, and the first of those trout were stocked on the Colorado River Jan. 12. After two major trout die-offs at the hatchery in 2013, plants ended and trout production ceased when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it couldn’t afford repairs to the hatchery to continue to raise and plant trout.

The die-offs in 2013 occurred because floating aquatic vegetation clogged the water intake from the Colorado River and hatchery staff didn’t notice the problem. The repairs, completed this past August, consisted of new water conveyance system. It collects water from the surface, where the plant materials are less prevalent, and it is cleaned daily by hatchery staff. The former system pulled water from the bottom of the river where plant matter collected.

It took three years of political wrangling to get the hatchery back into trout production. The hatchery released 2,500 pound of rainbows below Davis Dam in the Davis Camp and Bullhead City Park stretches of the river on Jan. 12. This stretch of river will get another plant in January. It will also be planted three times in February, four times in March, and once in April, for a total plant of 25,000 pounds of rainbows.

The Willow Beach stretch of the Colorado River downstream of the hatchery will also be planted with 1,000 pounds of rainbows every Friday starting Feb. 3. This weekly plant will continue year around.

These first batches of rainbow trout stocked came from the Arizona Game and Fish Department as fingerlings, being raised to catchable size at Willow Beach. The hatchery has also started raising rainbow trout from the egg stage again. In December of 2016, more than 110,000 rainbow trout eggs arrived from Ennis National Fish Hatchery in Montana. Those eggs have since hatched and will be catchable size later this year.

The ironic part of the closure was that this hatchery was built in 1959 with the sole purpose of supplying the Colorado River with rainbow trout, and the tax dollars generated by the economic activity around the plants made it revenue neutral for the federal government. Yet, the USFWS wanted to convert it entirely to the production of endangered native Colorado fishes.


[Jim Matthews is a syndicated Southern California-based outdoor reporter and columnist. He can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 909-887-3444.]

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