Issues behind the DFW’s stoppage of trout plants across Southern California
By JIM MATTHEWS
The Department of Fish and Wildlife – during what is normally a busy season for urban trout plants – has not delivered any fish to Southern California waters for the first three weeks of November, and none are scheduled for the rest of the month, including the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, according to the DFW’s website.
During the four weeks of October, the DFW made a total of nine plants in the region – two at Silverwood Lake, two at Pyramid Lake, and one each at Lake Hemet, Legg Lakes, Jackson Lake, El Dorado Park Lake, and Chollas Park Lake.
The worst part is that the DFW has not released any information about what is happening and why there has been what appears to be a total stoppage of plants. Two weeks of questions have only produced snippets of information from terse e-mails, second-hand reports, and DFW seasonal aides passing on what they “thought” they heard was going on.
Two facts can be passed on:
First, the DFW’s Mojave River Hatchery in Victorville has been closed since May 1. The hatchery was closed so some routine maintenance of the hatchery’s main settling pond, which had become nearly full of sediment. The hatchery was scheduled to reopen around the first of September, but the hatchery was still closed this week. The DFW’s two-word reason for the delay, delivered via e-mail, was “contractor issues.”
Second, the DFW’s Fillmore Hatchery apparently had been holding a heavy supply of trout that would be transferred to Hesperia when it reopened. The plan was also that trout would be stocked out of Fillmore until Hesperia was back at full operation. But there have been no plants out of Fillmore, and a person who answered the phone at the hatchery (a seasonal worker) said he’d heard that the trout were either too small and/or not approved for planting by the “biologist.”
In addition, there was a loss of “several thousand,” trout at Fillmore at some point this fall because of water issues from the well and oxygen levels. The total number lost and their value was not available.
The DFW says the water was supposed to be turned back on at the Mojave River Hatchery this week, but that could not be confirmed. The agency has also “developed a plan to move fish from Central California hatchery into Southern California as soon as possible” and that it has loaded up the Fillmore Hatchery with extra fish to compensate for the fish lost in the die-off.
All DFW trout plants in Southern California come from the Fillmore and Mojave hatcheries.
“At the end of the day, we are doing the best we can to get as many fish as we can into the water before Thanksgiving,” e-mailed a DFW staff person. While no plants in Southern California are currently listed on the DFW’s stocking page on its website, changes are frequently added at the last minute.
San Bernardino County Parks trout
stocking program kicks off next week
After a one-year fishing hiatus while the lake was drained and maintenance done at Prado Park, San Bernardino County Parks will resume stocking this park’s lake on a weekly basis this year, along with four other regional park waters. The plants will begin Thanksgiving week, with trout coming from Jess Ranch in Hesperia and Chaulk Mound Trout Farm in Nebraska this year.
In addition to Prado Park Lake, weekly plants will be made in Glen Helen Park Lake, Cucamonga-Guasti Park Lake, Mojave Narrows Park Lake, and Yucaipa Park Lake. Plants will be 780 pounds per week, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife is also slated to add fish to all five waters at least once a month during the winter trout season.
The county plants are slated to consist of 780 pounds of trout each week, which is a continued reduction in the pounds of trout planted by the county in these lakes. Last year, the plants ranged from 800 to 975 pounds each week, depending on lake. Fishing and entrance fees have also increased. Fishing permits are $10 per day Monday through Thursday, and $12 Friday through Sunday. This is on top of the vehicle entrance fee, which is $8 Monday through Friday and $10 on weekends, holidays, and special events.