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California fish and game (Volume 1952-1954) online

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processed at Morro Bay. Processing the product to its
final cooked and peeled form provided employment
for as many as 65 people in this area. Catches at Bodega
Bay and Crescent City were only about 3,500 pounds
each, due to extensive problems in fishing techniques.

The 1953 ocean shrimp catch increased to 295,000
pounds. Morro Bay landings were 199,000; Bodega
Bay, 51,000; and Crescent City, 45,000 pounds. Many
of the fishing and processing problems had been
solved, and the central and northern areas whose po-
tentials are by far the greatest were showing signs of
extensive production possibilities.

The 1954 season opening on May 1st saw fishing
activity on the beds off Morro Bay, Bodega Bay, and
Crescent City. The total catch of shrimp to June 30,
1954, was 106,000 pounds, with shrimp production
abnormally low at Morro Bay, good at Bodega Bay,
and the majority of the State's 1954 production landed
at Crescent City.

THE SALTON SEA

The Salton Sea, California's largest inland body of
water, long has been considered a potential fisherman's
paradise, but sporadic fish plantings beginning in 1929



A beam trawt net, used in the bottom fishery loaded with shrimp^



FORTY-THIRD BIENNIAL REPORT



71



never have been really successful, and until recently
no coordinated program of study to determine the po-
tential has been made.

However, in 1953 the Wildlife Conservation Board
authorized $86,000 for a three-year study, known as
the Salton Sea Project. The study was placed under a
service agreement with the University of California at
Los Angeles in February, 1954. Active work began at
Fish Springs late in Alarch after necessary personnel
was hired and basic equipment obtained. To date re-
search people feel that the sea must be considered only
a temporary habitat for fishes, but believe it will be
productive for at least 30 years.

Situated in the Imperial Valley in Imperial and Riv-
erside Counties, the sea is 235 feet below mean sea level
with a surface area of some 280 square miles. Its aver-
age depth is 10 feet with some spots more than 50 feet.
Its salinity, which varies according to depth, currently
is somew hat below that of normal sea water. Surface
temperature varies from around 50 degrees in the win-
ter to about 100 degrees in the summer.

Sporadic Plantings

First fish plantings (striped bass, silver salmon and
mudsuckers) \\ere made by the Division of Fish and
Game between October 20, 1929, and late in 1934.
Mudsuckers which now abound in the marginal areas
of the sea are presumed to have resulted from a No-
vember, 1930, planting of 500 individuals. Nothing has
ever been seen or heard of the striped bass and silver
salmon. Not until 1948 was fish introduction again
attempted and not until 1950 were these efforts any-
thing but sporadic. Between 1950 and 1953 one kind of
squid, four kinds of clams, three of mussels, two of
oysters, one of shrimp, and one of crab were intro-
duced from California, Japan, and Mexico in attempts
to increase the food available to fish life. Of these
forms two of the four species of clams, both species of
oysters and the crab have survived from one to sev-
eral years.

Mangrove seeds brought from Magdalcna Bay, Baja
California, in an attempt to modify the ecolog\- of Sal-
ton Sea did not survive.

Of numerous fish species introduced during this pe-
riod two from the Gulf of California (a croaker and a
corvina) are known to have survived and spawned,
and the resultant offspring to have survived and
spawned.

SURF FISHING INVESTIGATIONS

Continued investigation of the surf fishing off South-
ern California, to determine information needed for
proper management of the major species, was carried
out as Dingell-Johnson Project F-5-R. Work consists
of studies on age and rate of growth, maturity and
fecundity, and food analysis. Some tagging has been



done and more is planned to determine movements and
migrations. Recently underwater observation has con- .
tributed substantially to a better understanding of the
ecology and habits of the species, and of the design and
operation of beach seines.

Investigations are concerned with four species, all of
which have been designated by law for sport fishing.
In order of importance by numbers caught, they are
the barred perch, spotfin croaker, California corbina,
and yellowfin croaker. (North of Point Arguello the
barred perch may be taken commercially.)

Statistics based on information supplied by surf
fishermen in the form of daily catch records show that
the barred perch makes up 78.5 percent of the catch.
The other three are taken in the following percent-
ages: spotfin croaker, 9.5; corbina 9.0; and yellowfin
croaker 3.0 percent. Other species of surf fish taken in
order of their importance are white croaker, opaleye,
pile perch, and blactc perch. Several kinds of shark
also are taken incidentally.

Some Tagging Done

Biological material for the studies is supplied by
beach seining monthly throughout the year at six sta-
tions from the Santa Barbara area to San Diego. Some
tagging has also been done and more is planned for
the future in order that movements and migrations can
be learned. Returns to date indicate that two of the
croakers, the spotfin and yellowfin, move as much as
45 miles in three months. The other two species, cor-
bina and barred perch, have shown only minor move-
ments no greater than two miles, recoveries being
usually at the point of tagging.

Data taken routinely by beach seining have been
supplemented at several perch derbies held by sports-
men during the last two years.

Maturity and fecundity studies of the egg-bearing
croakers must be done by microscopic egg measure-
ment and by egg counts. Information about food habits
is being learned from microscopic examination of
stomach contents. Age work is progressing on three
of the four species. The barred perch, because of its
importance, is taking priority.

Yellowtail Investigations

More than 3,000 yellowtail were tagged during the
past two years to make a good start toward obtaining
the life history knowledge necessary for sound man-
agement of the fishery. A boat catch analysis of the
commercial yellowtail fishery has been difficult be-
cause of the economic uncertainty of the fishery. Boats
landing these fish usually are after the more valued
species and take yellowtail only when the others can-
not be readily found.

Data for life history studies have been obtained from
cannery sampling whenever possible. Among the ques-
tions which need to be answered are whether the fish-




Typical gear used tor sablefish by commercial fishermen off the north

coast. Fisherman is baiting a long-line set. The department conducted

tagging operations from this and similar boats.



ery is dependent on resident fish or whether they move
from areas of abundance to the heavily fished Cali-
fornia grounds, where spawning and nursery grounds
are located, and relationship of oceanic conditions to
abundance.

Current yellowtail investigations have been desig-
nated as Dingell-Johnson Project F-l-R, one of the
few D-J projects in the Nation devoted to the better-
ment of an ocean fishery and certainly one of the most
extensive. The yellowtail, as well as being a commer-
cial fish, is one of the most prized ocean sport fish and
sportsmen travel hundreds of miles in its pursuit. Once
plentiful along the entire Southern California coast, it
now is seldom taken except in the San Diego area.

Other phases of the program include development
of marking devices, study of movements and measure-
ments for descriptive purposes, as well as population
studies.

Sablefish

Sablefish form the basis of a minor but steady fishery
along the Pacific Coast, primarily because of the popu-
larity of the product in a smoked form. Since 1946 the
average annual Pacific Coast landings have been 10,-
000,000 pounds, with California accounting for about
2,000,000 pounds annually. The fishery is exploited by
both longline and otter trawl fishermen.

An investigation of the sablefish resources along the
Pacific Coast was started during the previous bien-
nium, upon recommendation of the Pacific Marine
Fisheries Commission. Joint studies have been con-
ducted along the coast by trained biologists in Califor-
nia, Oregon, Washington, Canada (British Columbia)
and Alaska. Most phases of this investigation were
completed during this biennium and the results are to
be included in Bulletin No. 3 of the Pacific Marine
Fisheries Commission.

Some of the results of this investigation in which
California participated are as follows:

Results of fish tag recoveries are in agreement with
the results of the racial study based on meristic counts



—namely, that the greatest proportion of tag returns
were from fish that were taken in the same general
localities where they had been released.

Studies of the abundance of this species, by analysis
of fishing returns, indicate that the catch-per-trip
appears to have remained constant since 1941 in
California. Furthermore, the fluctuations in seasonal
catches are quite closely correlated with economic
factors. Inasmuch as the greatest portion of the catch
along the Pacific Coast is placed in cold storage for
future smoking, abnormally large cold storage hold-
ings at the start of a year are associated with relatively
low catches in the ensuing year, and vice versa.

In addition, considerable life history information
was obtained during the course of this investigation,
such as spawning season and size at maturity, growth
rates, length-weight relationships, and relationship be-
tween size of fish and depth of water.

To discourage the landing of small, immature fish,
a minimum size of 25 inches total length or three
pounds dressed, head off, was recommended as a regu-
lation for the Pacific Coast, north of Pt. Arena, Cali-
fornia.

RESEARCH VESSELS

A^. B. Scofleld: Cruising Pacific waters from oflF
Guayaquil, Ecuador, at three degrees south latitude, to
Neah Bay, Washington, at 46 degrees N., the de-
partment's research vessel N . B. Scofield covered dis-
tances of 2,200 miles south of its home port, 700 miles
north, and about the same distance west in a varied
and versatile two-year program. No more graphic il-
lustration can be presented of the far flung nature of
marine fish populations, and the vast biological re-
search necessary to administer these fisheries.

During the biennium the Scofield and her crew
spent 389 days at sea, with tuna research of various
types receiving the most attention.

Varied work done by this vessel is equally indicative
of how versatile marine research vessels and marine
biologists must be. In southern and off-shore waters
the Scofield operated longline gear to search deeper
water layers for populations of yellowfin tuna, bigeye
tuna and albacore. This experimental fishing made
contributions toward delimiting the distribution of
these species and aided fishermen in assessing use of
longline gear in the eastern Pacific. Physical and chem-
ical oceanographic data were also collected. On other
cruises in Mexican and California waters albacore, yel-
lowfin tuna and skipjack were tagged.

Yellowtail Tagging

One trip was made to the Southern California Chan-
nel Islands where kelp bass, caught at San Clemente
Island, were tagged and released off Santa Catalina
Island, a part of the ocean sport fishery studies. The
yellowtail program was aided by two trips along the
coast of Baja California where yellowtail were caught,



FORTY-THIRD BIENNIAL REPORT



73



tagged and released. On one of these cruises mangrove
seeds were brought back and planted in Salton Sea,
one phase of the plan for developing a sport fishery
in this inland body of salt water.

Two cruises in Central California waters resulted in
the development of a mid-depth trawl that can be
operated from a single vessel. Shrimp populations in
the area were also assessed and this fishery given addi-
tional stimulus. One other trip made in connection
with the trawl studies extended to the coastal waters
of Washington and comprised assessments of bottom
fish populations off Central and Northern California
and Oregon and Washington.

Yelloivfiv: Although the work of the Yelloivfin was
not as varied as that of the N. B. ScofieUi, this vessel
kept equally busy, spending 373 days at sea during the
biennium. In the fall of 1952 she made four cruises
along the coast of Baja California waters and three in
the fall of 1953. On these trips, covering the area be-
tween Magdalena Bay, latitude 25 degrees N. and Pt.
Reyes, latitude 38 degrees N., a census was taken of
the abundance of sardines. Pacific and jack mackerel
and anchovies, and of the relative numbers of the year
class of sardines resulting from the previous spring
spawning, when these fish were about six months old.

One of the outstanding accomplishments resulting
from the work aboard the Yelloivfin has been the de-
velopment in the past year of a blanket net for the
rapid and efficient collection of fish samples. This net
and its successful operation resulted from the ingenu-
ity and industry of the vessel crew and illustrates the
importance of the contributions that every member
of the staff makes to the department's marine research
programs.

Marine Research Cruises

In addition to the census of fish populations carried
out by the Yelloivfin, she made three oceanographic
cruises in Southern and Baja California waters collect-
ing plankton samples and physical and chemical ocean-
ographic data, a part of the cooperative investigations
being carried out under the direction of the Marine
Research Committee. Five cruises were made in South-
ern and Baja California waters during the spring and
early summer to study abundance of sardines, jack
and Pacific mackerel and anchovies. Two trips were
made around the Southern California Channel Islands
to determine the condition of abalones in these \\aters.

Nautilus: Added to the department's research fleet
during the biennium was the Nautilus, formerly the
Sportfisher II, a standard northern drag boat, to serve
as a mother ship for the abalone investigations. The
new vessel, purchased in June, 1953, will serve as a
base to dry and thaw out divers, for tagging and meas-
uring abalones, and as a supply depot. It will be able
to work in areas impossible for the 26-foot diving boat
Mollusk, and will be available for many other investi-
gations when not being used in abalone work.



Additional gear is being installed on the vessel to
broaden its scope and usefulness. Among the installa-
tions are radar, enabling crews to take the boat close
to shore in bad weather; a sonar "Sea Scanar" show-
ing size and depth of underwater obstructions, and
schools of fish within 1,600 feet; radio equipment; an
anchor winch; and crew facilities. It already is
equipped with Loran, a Bendix recording depth finder
and two drag winches.

The Nautilus will be based at Redwood City, clos-
est harbor to the Marine Fisheries Branch office at
Stanford University. Storage located there consoli-
dates equipment formerly kept at four scattered loca-
tions.

FISH SCREENS AND LADDERS

A coordinated fish screen and ladder program, im-
proved in some respects through reorganization and
decentralization of the department, resulted in several
far-reaching developments. These include new types
of screens, devices to prevent trash accumulation, and
improvement and remodeling of ladders. Added effi-
ciency through decentralization of repair facilities was
another major accomplishment. Assistance from the
Dingell-Johnson Federal Aid Project F-4-D, on stream
and lake improvement, came in the form of repair and
remodeling of several existing fish\\ays on coastal
waters.

Under regional organization a new machine shop
was established in Red Bluff. Besides servicing screens
in Trinity County, the new shop maintained screens
and ladders in the southern part of Region I, formerly
handled by the Elk Grove shop. This eliminated much
travel time for employees of the latter shop in servic-
ing distant screens. The Yreka shop continued to han-
dle screen and ladder construction and maintenance in
the northern portion of the region.

Transferred to Region II from Marine Fisheries in
1953, the Elk Grove shop has been engaged in devel-
oping and testing new types of screens as well as in
prefabricating conventional perforated plate models.



Newly designed fish screen for dfversjons, showing automatic gate in

open position. The gate prevents loss of head in canal when debris has

accumulated on screen.




74



DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME



A h\draulic drive mechanism for i<ccping screens free
from trash, rccentl\- de\cloped by department per-
sonnel, lias been simplified and improved.

Coordinates Program

To make most efficient use of shop facilities in Re-
girins I and II a member of the headquarters staff co-
ordinates the program and establishes state-wide prior-
it\- for screen and ladder construction and installation.
Screen activities have been confined mainly to the
northern part of the State, where serious losses of
young salmon and .stcelhead trout occur in irrigation
diversion canals. Perforated plate type screens were
installed in 23 water diversions in Siskiyou and Trinity
Counties in addition to maintaining existing screens.

An outstanding innovation in fish screen design, an
automatic safety gate, was developed by Ernest Mur-
phe_\- of the Yreka shop. This gate is opened auto-
matically by a float arrangement when the water level
on the downstream side of the screen drops appre-
ciably, insuring a full flow in the diversion even in the
event of mechanical failure in the cleaning mechanism.
Several irrigation districts and other water users, form-
erl\- opposed to screen installation in their canals, were
fa\orabl\- impressed with the design, and approved
installation of screens equipped with the new gate.

Among the projects of the Elk Grove shop was
remodeling of ladders at Clough Dam, and the lower
dam of the Los .Molinos Mutual Water Company on
Mill Creek in Tehama County. Two fish ladders on
the Stanford-V^ina Dam on Deer Creek in the same
count\' also were renovated. Federal aid project crews
repaired fish ladders on Sweasey Dam on A'lad River
in Humboldt County, and on Van Arsdale Dam on the
Eel River in Mendocino County. Jumping pools were
added to the San Geronimo Creek ladder in Marin
Count\', and on the Old Creek ladder in San Luis
Obispo County.

Louver Type Screen

A louver t\'pe fish screen patterned after U. S. Fish
and Wildlife Service experimental installations at
Trac>', built at the Elk Grove shop, was tested at a






water diversion on Deer Creek in Tehama County.
This installation consisted of a series of vertical baffles
placed diagonally across a channel with a bypass open-
ing at the downstream end of the structure. Fish re-
sist the change in water velocity through the openings
between the baffles or louvers and are carried along
the line of louvers into a bypass.

While young salmon and yearling steelhead trout
were successfully deflected by this device, trash grad-
ually accumulated on the vanes, causing considerable
head loss in the canal. It is believed that the debris
problem can be solved either by using wider spacing
between the individual louvers to allow trash to drift
through the screen or by developing a cleaning device
for intermittent operation when the head loss at the
screen reaches a predetermined point.

SEISMIC EXPLORATIONS

Department of Fish and Game personnel continued
to act as observers on all offshore seismic oil explora-
tions conducted by use of explosives, and to report
all observed damage of marine life. Each seismic ex-
ploration crew is accompanied at all times by an offi-
cial representative of the department, whose principal
duty is to observe the operation and take whatever
steps are necessary to keep damage to marine life to
an absolute minimum. Oil companies holding seismic
permits from the Fish and Game Commission must de-
fray costs of the department observers.

From July 1, 1952, until June 30, 1953, there was
but a single oil survey crew working in California's
coastal waters. During this period the crew detonated
1,414,790 pounds of black powder with an observed
kill of 614 fish representing about a dozen species.
During the second half of the biennium, July 1, 1953,
to June 30, 1954, one seismic crew operated the entire
time, a second operated from July 28 to A'lay 31, a
third from December 2 through A4ay 31, and a fourth
from January 6 through May 20. These four crews
set off a total of 4,533,080 pounds of black powder
with an observed kill of 2,057 fish. In addition a fifth
crew, in the spring of 1954, carried out some experi-
mental work under special permit from the Fish and
Game Commission.

In addition to seismic permits which allow the use
of black powder only, several permits were granted
various construction companies for use of high explo-
sives to remove pier structures, build sewer outfalls
and control teredos. Few of these operations lasted
more than two or three days but a department em-
ployee was on the spot to observe and oversee the
operation and report all observed damage to marine
life.



Crob traps being set from a fypical crab boat off cenfral California.



PACIFIC MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION

Continued strides in promoting better use of fish-
eries which are of mutual concern to California, Ore-
gon, and Washington, and in development of a joint
conservation program were made by the Pacific Ma-
rine Fisheries Commission during the past biennium.
Formed in 1947 as a result of an interstate compact
between the three states, the commission concentrates
on coordinating the research activities of fisheries in-
vestigating agencies connected with the commission's
staff.

All general and staff meetings are attended by re-
search staff members from Canada, Alaska, and the
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Whenever possible
these men have attempted to coordinate their own
programs with those of the member states.

A research coordinator employed by the commis-
sion devotes much of his time to help research agencies
avoid duplication, eliminate gaps in the work, and de-
velop joint programs to find answers which can be
applied along the entire Pacific Coast from California
north.

Cooperative Tagging

One such program was the troll salmon investigation,
a cooperative tagging program involving thousands of
ocean salmon entered by all three states, Canada, and
Alaska. Later the three states marked millions of young
king and silver salmon in the streams, and the ocean
salmon catch was sampled from California to Alaska.
Although the tagging program has been concluded
there will be marked fish at sea until 1956.

Results so far obtained have conclusively shown that
king and silver salmon move such distances at sea that
a disaster in the salmon streams of one state can affect
the ocean fishery far beyond its borders. For example,
the mark returns have indicated that in some years
there may be more Sacramento River salmon taken in
Oregon and Washington combined than in the Califor-
nia ocean fishery.

Prior to 1952 the commission's investigations, meet-
ings, discussions, and recommendations had resulted in
troll salmon laws which were essentially the same in
the three states. A further change in the silver salmon
laws was then recommended and was passed by the
California Legislature, to become effective as soon as
Oregon and Washington make a similar change in
their laws. A portion of the law recommended by the
commission would delay opening of the silver salmon
season in California from May 1st to July 1st.

The commission did not regard any size limit as nec-
essary, but instead of eliminating the size limit entirely,
the Legislature reduced it to 22 inches. Almost 100
percent of silver salmon taken are in their third year.
, In May most of that year's crop measures under 25




Catching yellowtait for tagging purposes off Guadalupe Island.



inches, but by July almost 90 percent are over that
length. Thus the 22-inch limit serves to protect second-
year fish \\hich are actuallx- much smaller than 22
inches.

A sablefish investigation started by the commission
has included racial studies, tagging, and boat catch
analysis. This work has demonstrated that sablefish
wander relatively little and that California's stocks are
in reasonably good condition.

The commission was instrumental in obtaining SIO,-


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