Department of Water Resources stocks tons of trout in Silverwood, Pyramid, and Castaic
By JIM MATTHEWS
The California Department of Water Resources has purchased more than 50,000 pounds of rainbow trout for planting into three Southern California reservoirs over the past two weeks – Silverwood Lake, Pyramid Lake, and Castaic Lake. The numbers planted were nearly evenly divided between the three reservoirs.
“DWR is required to annually stock 60,000 pounds of catchable-sized trout in Silverwood, Pyramid and Castaic lakes under our FERC [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] Hydropower license -- 20,000 pounds per lake,” said Maggie Macias, a spokesperson for the DWR.
In the past, these fish were planted by the Department of Fish and Wildlife under an agreement with DWR to fulfil the FERC mandate, but in the past three years the DFW has been unable to meet the FERC requirements because of a variety of hatchery problems. Even before that, there was a period of time when no plants at any of the waters because of a statewide lawsuit against the DFW’s trout stocking program.
Trevor Bolls, operations manager with Rocky Mountain Recreation Company, which runs the marina concessions at all three of these reservoirs, said they had brought up the lack of trout plants with DWR earlier this year.
“We told them this was not acceptable to the paying customers who are buying fishing licenses and paying entrance fees every year. They are paying for these fish, but not getting them,” said Bolls. “We even offered to purchase trout like we do at some of our other concessions in northern California. They told us they would look into it.”
Bolls said the DWR responded with the information that the FERC licenses that allow them to operate each of the reservoirs, mandates that at least 20,000 pounds of trout are planted each year of the three reservoirs. DWR was responsible for those plants, and the agency intended to “catch up to that annual number” with these plants.
The trout have come from Calaveras Trout Farm in Snelling. Silverwood Lake has received 16,000 over four plants starting two weeks ago, all at the main launch ramp. Pyramid Lake has received five plants of about 16,500 pounds, most at the main ramp, but Tuesday’s plant this past week was at the west ramp, and Pyramid Lake was scheduled to get 19,000 pounds in total, and most have already been planted. Most of the trout have been around a pound or more in weight, but some have been bigger fish into the three-pound class.
Ben Deilin, the manager at the Castaic Lake Marina said the plants have generated a “lot of boat and shoreline fishing business.”
“There are a lot of trout in the lake, including some pretty big ones, and a lot of people have been catching [five-fish] limits,” said Deilin. “It was really good of the DWR to do this.”
The same type of activity use increases and good fishing has been reported at both Silverwood and Pyramid, too. “They’ll all catching their limits,” said Nancy Thorpe at the Silverwood Marina.
High water levels and cooler than normal spring temperatures have kept the water surface temperatures at all three of the reservoirs suitable for trout plants later than normal, so these late-season plants have been successful with almost no fish losses due to warm water. All three reservoirs are also deep enough to allow the trout to survive year-around in deep, cooler water.
The DWR’s Macias said that rainbow trout are normally stocked from October through June each year, when surface water temperatures are most suitable for their survival when planted. She said the DWR plans to continue to stock these three lakes with the required allotments in the future to meet their FERC requirements, which means more regular trout plants will be made this coming late fall through next year.
Macias said the FERC license was valid through 2022, so the 20,000 pounds per year requirement will be valid at least through then. Those numbers could change, however, when the reservoirs are relicensed. It was also still unclear if the DWR would try to make up for shortages in stockings in previous years with future stocking. The shortage numbers are still being quantified.
Jim Matthews is a syndicated Southern California-based outdoor reporter and columnist. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 909-887-3444.