California. Dept. of Fish and Game.

California fish and game (Volume 1954-1956) online

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Commission pointed out that experience gained from
the 1956 season would serve as a guide for future

Experience would determine whether future hunts
Mould be longer or shorter, whether either sex hunt-
ing would extend throughout the season or be more
limited, whether future hunts would be on a quota
system in various sections of the State to control the
kill of deer, and whether it would be necessary to
ask the Legislature for power to control hunter con-
centrations in specific areas.


During the biennium there was a considerable shift
in the department's pollution problems— from fresh
water to salt water.

Preliminary evidence indicated that pollution of
ocean and bay waters by sewage and industrial wastes
is having a widespread, harmful effect on fish life, al-
though extensive studies are still needed to evaluate
this problem and determine what corrective measures
need be taken. There seems little doubt that the sew-
age flow from increasing growth, particularly in
Southern California, has reached the point where
there is no longer adequate dilution in the coastal
waters and additional treatment facilities are needed,
particularly in the San Diego and Los Angeles areas.

The point has been reached where it has become
both feasible and necessary to highly treat and re-use
much of the waste waters in Southern California. This
will help to solve the serious water supply problem
and will also provide needed protection for fish and
aquatic resources of the area.

Beaches in Danger

The beaches and coastal waters of Southern Cali-
fornia are an invaluable part of Southern California's
way of life, and courageous steps must be taken with-
out delay to prevent extensive damage to sport and
commercial fisheries, as well as to the recreational
potential of the beaches.

Warden Bd Johnson checks ihe license of Angler Bill frvnell of Sacro-
menfo while on roufine patrol in El Dorado Counfy,

(Fish and Game Photo)

There has been an increasing emphasis during the
biennium on the biological phases of California's water
pollution program. In two cases, new industries
moving into the State, have retained consulting biolo-
gists to make complete evaluations of conditions in
nearby receiving waters before building new plants.

In the case of the City of Los Angeles and the
Santa Monica Bay sewage discharge, the State Water
Pollution Control Board ordered a policing program
to actually test the toxicity of the discharge. This will
make possible an evaluation of the effects of the dis-
charge and will provide the advance warning needed
in order that further corrective measures c^an be taken
long before conditions in the receiving waters become


Establishment of an in-service training program de-
signed to improve the quality of departmental services
by increasing the effectiveness of employees high-
lighted departmental organizational activities during
the biennium.

The first scheduled training under the new program
was a two-day course for regional managers and staff
officers held in Sacramento in early 1955. At this time
final plans were also made for inaugurating depart-
ment-wide training for all employees.

The in-service program, developed within the
framework of the state training policy, consisted of
orientation training for new employees and continuing
refresher training for all employees.

Operational Manual

Work was started in February, 1955 on a manual
detailing uniform operational and administrative pro-
cedures for statewide use by department employees.



The manual is designed to provide specific information
on problems relating to management and operation
and is to serve as a comprehensive reference source
on policies, procedures, regulations and general de-
partmental information.

Complete, up-to-date copies of the loose-leaf mim-
eographed manual are being maintained at all major
offices and installations of the department.

A streamlining of the supervisory positions at the
state fish hatcheries, undertaken in response to the
changeover from small fingerling hatcheries to big new
multi-crop installations, was completed by the de-
partment and the State Personnel Board during the

The new set-up strengthens supervisory organiza-
tion and control by splitting the old top supervisory
class of Fish Hatchery Foreman into two new classes,
Fisheries Manager I and Fisheries Manager II.


The growth of California's army of sportsmen has
more than kept pace with the over-all population
growth of the State in the postwar period. From July
1, 1948, to the close of the current biennium, the
State has grown by 31 percent, whereas the numbers
of sportsmen buying fishing and hunting licenses in-
creased by 32 percent from July 1, 1948 through 1955.

The problems created for the department's law en-
forcement branch by the increased hunting and fishing
pressure have been manifold, particularly since there
had been no increase in the warden force for many
years. The last addition was in the 1948-49 Fiscal Year
when 32 men were added to the staff.

Studies conducted by the department aboard the reseorch vessel Noutilus

led directly to the enactment of legislation requiring alt crab traps (pots)

to provide openings to permit undersize crabs to escape. Arrows show

iour-inch circular openings.

(Fish and Game Photn by D. W. McFadden)

By the end of the 1955-56 Fiscal Year there was
one warden for every 10,392 license buyers. The De-
partment of Finance recommended that the ratio be
one for every 7,500. The 1956 Session of the Legis-
lature responded to the request of the Department of
Fish and Game by authorizing 30 additional game
wardens and six additional game warden captains,
bringing the total law enforcement branch to a strength
of 253, of which 213 are wardens and the others
captains and supervisors. The new men were to begin
their duties in the 1956-57 Fiscal Year. At the 1955
figure of 1,938,027 licensed hunters and anglers, this
additional force will provide a ratio of one warden to
ever>- 8,972 sportsmen.

Ratio to Grow

The ratio will undoubtedly soon be greater, how-
ever, since indications at the close of the biennium
were that license buyers will top the 2,000,000 mark
in the next fiscal year for the first time in the State's

More sportsmen in the field meant a sizeable increase
in the work load of wardens during the biennium. In
spite of this, the wildlife protection function was able
to report a 15 percent increase in arrests over the
1952-54 period. To achieve this mark, wardens had to
put in long hours of overtime work without added

A Department of Finance report in 1954 estimated
that wardens average 12 hours per day in the field.
Wardens were called on for cooperative efforts of the
department with other state agencies, became area
leaders in pheasant co-ops, aided in the stream flow
maintenance program, checked fish screens and lad-
ders in routine patrols, aided in fish rescue work,
worked on pollution control and fact-finding projects,
appeared before public groups, helped in searches for
lost persons and cooperated with other agencies dur-
ing forest fires and other emergencies.

Wardens Helped in Flood

One such eniergenc\' was the disastrous floods of
the winter of 1955. At least 75 department men con-
tributed efforts above and beyond the call of duty
during the period. In some cases wardens were able
to give the first alarm of the trouble to come; in
others they formed the only communication with the
outside world for flood stricken communities.


The Marine Fisheries picture was a variegated can-
vas of some very bright and some very dark hues
throughout the biennium. The brightest spots were
found in the shellfish fisheries and the darkest in the
ocean fisheries, although each contained its opposite
patches of dark or bright.

Two record salmon catch years, a revitalized o>"ster
industry, new legislation to protect the market crab

fishery, a burgeoning new shrimp fishery, and estab-
lishment of a sport fishery in the Saiton Sea were high-
lights of the period.

On the other hand, there were some very gloomy
reports. Continual reproductive failures put the future
of the Pismo Clam in question. The sardine catch was
slightly higher in the biennium than in the preceding
two years, but there is no indication the local fish will
return in any numbers like those of the period be-
tween 1925 and 1945. Sardines which moved north
out of Mexican waters represented the increase in the

Tentative conclusions from pollution studies indi-
cate that various sewer outfalls and industrial waste
discharges have caused harm to ocean fishlife.


Increased hauls of king salmon contributed to a
commercial catch of 8,600,000 pounds in 1954, a rec-
ord that was topped in 1955 with a catch of 9,700,000
pounds. While the commercial catch of kings sky-
rocketed, the silver salmon haul went into a slow

For the first time since 1952, when netting restric-
tions were placed in effect, river commercial fisher-
men in 1955 landed in excess of 1,000,000 pounds of
salmon. A change in commercial river gillnet gear
in the Sacramento River accounted for their increase.
During the biennium Marine Fisheries personnel were
concluding studies to determine the importance of
Sacramento River kings to the coastwise salmon indus-
try. The\" found that a change in the producing poten-
tial of one state affects the salmon fisheries of other
states, and is a factor to be considered in conservation
programs of the entire Pacific coastal region.

A species of salmon new to California, the Pink,
appeared for the first time off the California coast in
1953, and was taken in substantial commercial numbers
for the first time in 1955 when 2,000 were landed from
Monterey to Crescent City. The Pinks were observed
spawning in the American River in 1955.

The return of the oyster to a place of importance
in the commercial catch of the State reflects credit
upon \\ise conservation practices recommended by the
department and enforced by the Legislature, upon
modern farming methods instituted by oyster cultur-
ists, and upon physical conditions highly conducive to
successful oystering.

Unfortunately, the areas in which oysters may be
planted successfully is limited to those presently in
production. Many thousands of acres of the State's
bays would be suitable for oyster culture, but are now
polluted by waste disposal.


Steady decline in the catch of market crabs from a
high of 12,941,418 pounds in 1952 resulted in a change
in crab laws in 1955 and a request by the Legislature

Limits of ducks taken at Imperial Waterfowl Management Area are dis-
played by Robert Redline of Et Monte (left) and Tom Souders of South
Son Gabriel.

(Fish and Game Photo)

for additional information to improve the fishery. A
shortening of the crab season and the establishment
of a fixed opening in crab pots to give the smaller
crabs a chance to escape were placed in effect in 1955
by the Legislature. While it is too soon to assess the
effect that these conservation measures have had upon
the fishery, there were signs that 1956 would be a
record year for the commercial crab men.

Landings in the Eureka-Crescent City area in 1956
were nearly five times the 1,500,000 pounds recorded
in 1955, and may push the state-wide catch close to
the record of 13,000,000 pounds established in 1952.


A direct result of work of the Alarine Fisheries
Branch has been the establishment of a new industry
which shows every sign of a healthy, vigorous future.
Continuing research and exploration by the depart-
ment uncovered the possibility of a shrimp fishery in
California waters. In 1952 commercial fishermen were
interested enough to net 206,000 pounds. In t\vo years
this figure grew to 300,000 and in 1955 to 855,000
pounds. Through June 30, 1956, a total haul of 419,000
pounds, an increase of more than 20 percent over a
similar period in 1955, was recorded. The Crescent
City shrimp fleet contributed 308,000 pounds to the
total, followed by the Bodega Bay fleet with 111,000

pounds. Further research is continuing in the efforts
of Marine Fisheries worl<ers to expand this industry.


Sports fishermen in the southern part of the State
should benefit soon from efforts of the department to
establish a sport fishery in the Salton Sea. An estimated
100,000 corvina, the descendants of fish planted there
by the department, have successfully spawned and
biologists look for a continually expanding population.
A study of this inland sea, begun in 1954, has revealed
that it has a life expectancy of at least 30 to 40 years as
a sports fishery under conditions that now exist.


Fears that the Pismo Clam may be on its way down
formed one of the clouds that cast a shadow on the
overall Marine Fisheries picture. The popular shore-
line delicacy just hasn't reproduced as it should. The
years 1944 at Morro Bay and 1947 at Pismo Beach
were the last times the Pismo Clam has produced
"sets" in numbers considered sufficient to sustain the
fishery. The cause may be the result of a combination
of many factors. Investigation is under way, but con-
clusions have not been reached.


In spite of a record two-year deer bag, it was ap-
parent at the close of the biennium that Californians
were taking only a token harvest of their most valu-
able big game resource. The record year was 1954
when 75,602 bucks were taken by hunters. This fell
off slightly to 71,126 in 1955 for a two-year average
of 73,374 bucks, far above the 29-vear average of
39,782, but far below the annual reproduction factors
of 250-300,000 fawns.

One area in the State has shown a constant increase
in harvest. This is the Barton's Flat area of Fresno and
Tulare Counties where both sexes have been thor-
oughly harvested under special hunting seasons since
1952. Within this area, the buck harvest during the
regular season has increased each year from 208 in
1952 to 334 in 1955.

One of the most serious problems encountered by
the department has been access by the hunter to lands
where game species are found. In an effort to relieve
this problem, hunting arrangements have been worked
out on certain parcels of private land, such as the
Tejon Ranch and San Emidio Ranch areas of Kern


Public domain lands have been examined, and large
blocks found to have wildlife potential have been
requested for use as hunting and fishing areas. With-
drawal applications, approved by the Fish and Game
Commission and filed with the U. S. Department of the
Interior, totalled more than a half million acres at the

First open season on the wily chuicar partridge, introduced by the depart-
ment in the semi-arid areas of the Stale, was held in 1954.

(Fish and Game Photo)

close of the biennium. Approximately 40 miles of ac-
cess roads were constructed to open up public lands
for hunters.

Acquisition of the Alendota Waterfowl Manage-
ment Area and purchase of additional acreage for
Gray Lodge and Imperial, expanded state-managed
areas by more than 15,000 acres to a total of 47,198.
Another 2,887 acres in the San Luis Wasteway is un-
der lease by the department. Significantly, the 1954-56
biennium witnessed an all-time low in waterfowl dep-
redation. This is particularly noticeable in the Grass-
lands area near Fresno. Acquisition and development
of the Mendota area and a cooperative program be-
tween rice grow ers, duck club owners, U. S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, and the Department of Fish and
Game, wherein several thousand acres of duck club
lands are flooded during the crop depredation period,
has substantially reduced crop damage.


The solution to the coot problem has not been as
simple, however, as eflForts to herd the birds away
from crops have not met with success. Despite the
fact that the coot is a popular game bird in certain
other flyways in the east, California hunters have re-
fused to recognize this bird as a desirable target. Thus,
the species has been virtually unharvested. The result
has been that large populations of birds not only have
damaged crops but have competed for food w ith other

During the late winter of 1954 and 1955 the taking
of coots was made legal through a Depredation Con-
trol Order of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In
an attempt to reduce the depredation problem and
to teach the hunters the sporting potential of the bird,
an intensive educational program was carried on by
the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the depart-



merit, and a considerable effort was made to interest
hunters in areas where large populations of coots pre-
sented problems.

During 1954 it was difficult to generate any interest
among the hunters, but during the second opening in
1955 interest in the bird was increasing. The campaign
continues, and it is possible that eventuall\' this bird
may become a valuable resource instead of a nuisance.

Upland game hunters found conditions better than
ever during the biennium. The quail bag in the 1954
season was above normal, but poor hunting weather
was the big factor in a below-normal 1955 season.
Otherwise, the shotgun hunters had a fine time. Near
record takes of doves, \\ hich run a close second to
ducks for popularity among sportsmen, occurred dur-
ing both years.


Total bag of pheasants increased nearly 25 percent,
largely because of liberalized regulations which length-
ened the season from 10 to 16 days and permitted the
taking of one hen in the seasonal bag limit for the first
time. Also for the first time, pheasant hunting was
permitted on weekends on federally owned waterfowl

While the pigeon take was below normal, the blame
should be placed on poor distribution of the birds and
not on a decrease in the population. The 1955 nesting
period was above average.

Upland game enthusiasts found another target during
the period with the introduction in arid areas of the
chukar partridge. Installation of guzzlers has created
a habitat for this new game bird, which is reproducing

Fish screen at Tracy Pumping Plant of Delta Mendota Canal on San
Joaquin River.

(Fish and Game Photo)

well and should provide good sport in numbers for
Southern California hunters. Two open seasons were
held during the biennium and a third was authorized,
to coincide \\ ith the 1956 quail season in chukar areas.


California's growing population and its ever-increas-
ing interest in outdoor activities have been felt in the
department most strongly by the Inland Fisheries

Angling license sales have jumped 235 percent in
only 15 years, from a prewar figure of 390,342 fisher-
men to 1,302,927 in 1955. In five-year increments, the
number of anglers went up 42 percent by 1945, up a
whopping 76 percent in the five-\'ear period following
the end of the war, and it jumped 43 percent in the
next five \'ears. Currentl)', the annual trend is an in-
crease of 5 percent, with no end in sight to the post-
war boom that has just about doubled California's
population in 10 years.

The steadily mounting demand for fishing, as re-
flected in license sales, has resulted in stepped-up activ-
ity in all of the department's fish-increasing programs.

More fishing opportunities were created by two
Wildlife Conservation Board programs. One is con-
cerned with opening formerly inaccessible areas by
providing access sites, and the other is the warm-
water fisheries program.

The department's continuing program of habitat
improvement has created still more fishing opportuni-
ties for the sportsman. Protection of existing fisheries
occupied considerable attention during the biennium.
The department continued its efforts to establish
screens and ladders on important streams and stepped
up its investigation of new water projects and the
growing pollution problem.


The Tracy Fish Conservation Facility, which em-
bodies a new concept in fish screening, was completed.
The department cooperated fully in the project. The
structure was built by the U. S. Bureau of Reclama-
tion at a cost of about $2,000,000 after research had
shown the desirability of saving millions of small
striped bass and salmon which would otherwise be
lost. The tiny fish, which drift with thp current, tail
downstream, seem to sense obstructions in their way
and are able to avoid them. With this knowledge,
engineers designed a vertical system of louvres which
the fish avoid by means of their built-in "radar" and
thus pass along the obstructions into a safe diversion

Construction of new screens and replacement of
older screens either in need of repair or obsolete be-
cause of changing conditions kept the screen shops
at Elk Grove, Red Bluff, and Yreka working at


■■^ '■* *l


Spraying fish toxicant in treatment of City of Son Diego's to/ce Hodges to
remove over-popufation of carp.

(Fish and Game Photo)

The extremely heavy floods of December, 1955, cre-
ated more than $100,000 in damage to hatcheries, fish
screens and ladders essential for the protection of the
State's steelhead and salmon.


Early in 1954 the Wildlife Conservation Board
assigned its highest priority to development of warm-
water fisheries by placing a h\draulic engineer full
time on the job of investigating possible projects.
More than a dozen projects, of several hundred investi-
gated, were presented to the board for its consid-

The program is directed toward utilization of exist-
ing impoundments, access to other existing impound-
ments, and creation of new impoundments.

By means of dredging, weed control, and construc-
tion of parking areas, boat ramps, or other access
devices, 15 lakes with a total area of 14,361 acres have
been acquired or developed, or are in the process of
being acquired or developed (completed, 3,830 acres;
under way, 4,194 acres; planned, 6,337 acres). One is
a trout lake and 14 are warmwater lakes. These lakes
were formerly either closed to fishing or unsuitable
because of shallowness or lack of access. Nine public
angler access sites totaling 109 acres were acquired
and 20 others averaging five acres each are in the
planning state. Most of them are located along the
Sacramento River and in the Delta region.


A consolidation of the hatchery program has re-
sulted in more efficient production, and a change in
planting policy by the commission has increased the
size of catchable trout.

In 1955 the number of catchable trout dropped
slightly from the previous year to 7,585,000 but the
weight increased to a new all-time high of 1,240,576

pounds. The weight increase is partially due to a late
1955 policy change by the Fish and Game Commission
which increased the planting size range of catchables
from 6-8 per pound to 4-6 per pound. A total of
18,000,000 fingerling trout and salmon weighing 85,000
pounds was planted, nearly doubling the previous
year's fingerling production.


Heavy emphasis was placed on control of rough
fish populations through use of chemicals. The Russian
River, and the entire drainage of Putah Creek were
treated to reduce rough fish. The Russian River proj-
ect was the largest chemical treatment program ever
undertaken on a river system. A total of 286 miles of
stream was treated to eradicate squawfish, suckers,
roach, and carp, and thus improve conditions for nat-
ural reproduction of steelhead; and 57 lakes, compris-
ing 11,447 surface acres, were treated for the same
purpose. At the end of the biennium, the rough fish
appeared to be making a comeback, but were still not
up to their former numbers. iMeanwhile, summer trout
fishing greatly improved after the treatment of No-
vember, 1954.

San Diego Reservoir

A "California first" was marked up on January 31,
1956, when the City of San Diego chemically treated
Hodges Reservoir with fish toxicant. More than 100
tons of carp were removed from this domestic water
supply reservoir and the fish kill was believed com-

No similar project involving a large supply of pota-
ble water had been attempted heretofore in California.
The project succeeded in improving both water qual-

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