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California fish and game (Volume 1954-1956) online

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research has been coordinated under the Pacific Ma-
rine Fisheries Commission. This included a tagging
and recovery program involving relatively large
salmon, most of them over 20 inches in length. This
program alone has already demonstrated that interstate
cooperation is necessary if the salmon fisheries are to
survive. For example: From 30 to 60 percent of the
ocean catch of salmon spawned in the Sacramento
River has been made north of the Oregon line.

Obviously, Oregon and Washington conservation
measures will affect the fishing pressure on these fish.
Conversely, much of California's silver salmon catch
comes from fish originating in Oregon streams.

Studies Result in Action

The combined studies showed that the rapidly de-
clining fall runs of king salmon in the Columbia River
were being too heavih' exploited in the troll fishery
from Oregon north. To overcome this effect, the Pa-
cific Marine Fisheries Commission recommended that
the king salmon trolling seasons of Oregon and Wash-
ington be shortened, the open period to commence
April 15th. Formerly the northern season opened on
March 15th and extended to October 31st. For the
past eight years the California season has been from
May 1st to September 20th.

The Oregon Fish Commission and the Washington
State Department of Fisheries (both of which had reg-
ulatory powers) acted on the above recommendation
in time for the 1956 season.

The shortened season in the north has had a sec-
ondary effect of reducing the intensity of the ocean
fishery on the Sacramento, Klamath, and other runs of
California salmon which habitually move into northern
waters in numbers.


California cooperated in the king salmon marking
program during the biennium when the Marine Fish-

eries Branch completed the first of two operations
designed to determine the importance of Sacramento
River kings to the coastwide fisheries and to California
river fisheries and to show the relationship of the
spawning stock to productivity.

In the first phase of the marking program approxi-
mately 4,500 marked salmon were recovered out of
4/0,000 marked and released as fingerlings early in
1950. They were taken as 2, 3, 4 and 5 year-old fish
from 1951 through 1954. Recovery crews searched
for these marks from California to Alaska under the
coordination of the Pacific A4arine Fisheries Com-

Only one marked fish survived to spawn for every
three that were caught. Of those caught, two-thirds
were landed by ocean commercial troUers. The ma-
jority of these troUer catches were made off Oregon,
Washington, or Vancouver Island, B. C.

The second phase of these experiments began in
1952 and was similar to the first one. Tentative results
indicate that less than two-thirds of the second group
of fish was caught north of California.

These experiments, coupled with similar ones in
Oregon and Washington, have demonstrated that a
change in the salmon producing potential of one state
can affect the fisheries of other states— a fact of very
important significance in the design of conservation
and management measures.


California's contribution to the increasing knowl-
edge of the life history of the salmon and of sound
management practices of the salmon and steelhead
fishery has been substantial. Both the .Marine Fisheries
and the Inland Fisheries Branches of the department
have been actively engaged during the biennium in in-
vestigating the mysterious ways of these migrants, as
well as in management work designed to protect the

Standard tools used by the Marine Fisheries Branch
in its annual salmon checking operations are spawning
stock survej's and sampling of catches.

Spaucning Stock Surveys— Annual inventories of sal-
mon spawning stocks are taken to determine the status
of the resource and the escapement to the various con-
tributing river systems.

During the fall and winter of 1954-55, nearly 47,000
salmon were examined in the rivers of the central
valleys; in 1955-56 over 25,000 were examined.

Salmon and steelhead lagging operations at the Fremont Weir on the
Sacramento River near Verona.

CFish and Game Photo)



0<itcA Sa,»ft^tUti^









16 6




16 7




6 7






11 6




7 3


Percent of catch sampled

Percent of landings by weight


No. fish examined

Percent of catch sampled

Percent of landings by weight

Similar surveys were conducted on key north coast
rivers. Here crews examined over 1,000 king salmon
and nearly 400 silver salmon for tags and marks during
fall and winter of 19.')4-55. During 19.';.^-.?6 crews ex-
amined 16,000 kings.

From these surve>'S, and from f\-ke-net studies
which determine the duration and intensity of the
downstream migration of young salmon, as well as
from counts at fish ladders and other observation
points, accurate population estimates are obtained.
Man)' of these estimates remain in the files for years,
but when they are needed they are immediately avail-
able. The salmon and steelhead fish hatchery at Nim-
bus on the American River, which was completed and
placed in operation during the biennium, was justified
entirely on the basis of spawning stock surveys made
from 1944 through 1952.

Catch SajiipUng—TKis operation supplies basic in-
formation concerning the stocks of salmon, their con-
dition, and their relationship in the fishery. It is a cen-
sus that reveals how the fish are reacting to the fishery
and the changes \\ rought by man and nature.


During the biennium the department attacked vari-
ous problems involving salmon and steelhead on three
fronts. The Marine Fisheries Branch undertook a
study to determine conditions in the ocean salmon
sport fishery. The Inland Fisheries Branch divided its
efforts on the otiier two fronts. It conducted one
anadromous trout and salmon investigation on north
coastal streams and another on the Sacramento and
San Joaquin River drainages.


Financed mainly by federal aid funds, the Marine
Fisheries Branch began a study in July, 19.'>4, to deter-
mine conditions in the ocean salmon sport fishery. The
goals were to learn the numbers and sizes of fish taken,

the amount of effort expended in the taking, the esti-
mated \alue of the fishery, and the relationship of the
fishery to the over-all salmon picture. The study is
still under wa\% but some conclusions have been

The investigators found that anglers fishing from
party boats and skiffs land most of the sport-caught
salmon in the ocean and bays and estuaries; a small
part of the catch is made by shore fishermen who fish
near river mouths.

Party Boats

Party boats operating out of most California ports
take passengers fishing for hire. From San Francisco
northward most of them fish almost exclusively for
salmon. From Half Moon Bay south to Avila (San
Luis Obispo County) party boats fish primarily for
rockfish and salmon. The proportion of salmon in the
catch varies from port to port and month to month.

Party boat captains are required b\- law to turn in
daily logs of their fishing activities. Logs show the
number of passengers and the number and kind of fish
caught, and are used to measure quality of fishing
from month to month and year to year.

Skiff Fishing

During the past few years there has been a very
rapid increase in the amount of ocean sport fishing for
salmon from skiffs. Rental facilities have been pro-
vided at nearly ever)' small port from Monterey north.
This t\'pe of fishing is a comparatively new develop-
ment and its significance in the over-all salmon picture
is still under study.


The Inland Fisheries Branch began a study in Feb-
ruary, 19.55, of trout and salmon in coastal streams in
response to needs recognized by the department as
w ell as by legislators and sportsmen.

Federal moneys are used to finance the project.
Much of the work is performed at the new Cedar
Creek Experimental Station on the South Fork of the
Eel River, west of U. S. Highway 101 between Gar-
berville and Laytonville.

The objectives of this project are:

1. To determine the survival to the angler and
to spawning of artificially propagated steelhead
and salmon.

2. To determine the survival to the angler and
to spawning of naturally reproduced steelhead
and salmon under varying conditions.

3. To measure the reasons for, and extent of,

4. To test the effects of various management
methods, including physical and biological
habitat improvement and regulations on these
fish and the fisheries.

A sportfishing dock at Noyo Harbor, Fort Bragg. The small boats are
typical of those used by salmon fishermen in the ocean.

(Fish and Game Photo by C. H. Meacham)

5. To provide information for evaluating the
effects of proposed and existing water develop-
ments on salmon and steelhead in the north-
coastal portion of the State.

Work Started in 1955

During the biennium the growth of young steelhead
at Cedar Creek Station progressed as expected. Mark-
ing of approximately 170,000 fish at the station started
on December 19, 1955, and continued through Decem-
ber 21st, when torrential rains caused the river to rise
over the rearing ponds and wash away all the fish.
At that time 75,186 marked steelhead and approxi-
matelv 90,000 unmarked fish entered the river.

At the close of the biennium approximately 500,000
voung steelhead were in the rearing ponds and the
losses from the flood had been replaced.

A great deal of time was devoted to getting data
on the Trinity River for population estimates. This
information was needed in order to make recommen-
dation for facilities to maintain the important salmon
and steelhead fisheries in the face of the huge water
development project recently begun at this stream.

flow Measurements

Water flow measurements, in conjunction with
gravel analyses, were made to develop methods for
determining an optimum flow over a spawning area.
These methods are being applied in the Trinity River
and will be applied in the Eel River and other coastal
streams. Information on optimum water flows is essen-
tial, in order to recommend the proper water releases
from reservoirs constructed on salmon and steelhead

Fish sampling on Alendocino coastal streams has
revealed that the present summer closure on these
streams is a sound regulatory measure. This closure
is designed to assure a maximum winter fishery for
adult steelhead and is serving its purpose well.


The Inland Fisheries Branch began a study in 1953
of the salmon and steelhead of the Sacramento and
San Joaquin Rivers, financed mainly by federal funds.
The Marine Fisheries Branch, the U. S. Fish and Wild-
life Service and sportsmen's organizations have par-
ticipated in the work, various phases of which were
nearing completion at the close of the biennium.

The study has two principal goals. The first is the
evaluation of salmon and steelhead losses in the nu-
merous irrigation diversions in the Sacramento and San
Joaquin Valleys. Information gathered to date is
already being used as a guide to the economic justifi-
cation of fish screens at various sites, and to set up
fish screen priority lists for diversions in which salmon
and steelhead are being destroyed.

The second goal is to determine the effectiveness
of supplementing natural steelhead production in the
Sacramento River system with hatchery-reared fish.
Facts obtained will form the basis for a sound man-
agement plan for steelhead trout in the upper Sacra-
mento River.

Fish Losses Evaluated

During the previous biennium, \\ ork was performed
on irrigation diversions along the Sacramento River
between Redding and Sacramento. It was found that
losses of seaward migrant king salmon fingerlings,
though present through most of the irrigation season,
were relatively small because most of the young sal-
mon migrate into the Delta before the normal irriga-
tion season gets into full swing in late April and early

However, evidence shows that if the irrigation
season started earlier, for example in early iMarch, con-
siderable losses would occur. It was also demonstrated
that serious losses of adult salmon and steelhead occur
at pump intakes lacking trash grids or screens.

Delta Investigation

During the 1955 irrigation season, work was shifted
into the San Joaquin Valley and into the Sacramento-
San Joaquin River Delta. Here, between the middle of
March and the last of May, eight typical large diver-
sions were sampled for fish losses. These diversions
included three located along a 43-mile stretch of
the San Joaquin River between Stockton and Pat-
terson, four in the Delta between Antioch and Rio
Vista, and one on the Mokelumne River near Wood-
bridge. Losses of fingerling king salmon at irrigation
diversions along the San Joaquin River were much
greater than at those sampled along the Sacramento
River. This is due for the most part to an earlier irri-
gation season in the San Joaquin Valley, when the
fields are being flooded as the peak of the seaward
migrant salmon run is passing. One of the larger diver-
sions near Stockton was found to have taken over
20,000 young salmon in late March and April alone.

Bufte Creek

Work in 1956 centered on Butte Creek, an impor-
tant tributary of the Sacramento River. Eight large
diversions are present along a 25-mile section of this
stream; one was screened experimentally. It is essential
that they be evaluated with respect to fish losses before
a screening program is developed. However, due to
floods during the previous winter, no young salmon



At left department personnel and members



ount and measure marked steelhead at Coleman Hatchery. Yearling steelhead are

of Kamloops,

d (right) alter marking into the Sacramento River at Princeton Ferry.

(Fish and Game Photos by Don LaFaunce)

were found either in the diversions or in Butte Creek
in the spring of 1956. This work will be continued
in 1957.

Considerable losses of adult salmon were observed
in diversions from Butte Creek in the spring of 1956,
and recommendations for elimination of tiiese losses
were made. Some of the answers to fish screening
problems have been found, but many problems still
remain, and the department is working toward solu-

Evaluation of Steelhead Planting

Since completion of Shasta Dam, the Sacramento
River has become excellent habitat for steelhead trout.
Releases from the dam have lowered river tempera-
tures to a level ideal for steelhead. Many fishermen
no\\ travel considerable distances each fall to fish the
upper Sacramento. Creel censuses indicate that at least
10 percent of the anglers are from Los Angeles
County. Questions of \\ hether present regulations are
adequate to maintain the excellent fishing, in view of
ever-increasing fishing pressure, and whether it is
economical!)' feasible to maintain or even improve
the fishing by planting yearling hatchery-reared fish,
are being studied.

Knights Landing Project

To answer these questions, the department is mark-
ing and planting hatchery-reared steelhead in the
upper Sacramento River. This work is supplemented
by an adult steelhead trapping and tagging program
in the lower river near Knights Landing each fall and
winter, coupled with an examination of adult steel-
head upstream from the trapping site.

These fish are examined at the project's counting
station on Mill Creek, at the United States Fish and
Wildlife Service's Coleman Fisheries Station traps on
Battle Creek, and in anglers' catches from the upper
Sacramento River and tributaries.

During the biennium, 9,037 steelhead were trapped
and examined for marks and tags at Knights Landing.
Of these, 7,63 3 were tagged before being released. An
excellent return of tags by sportsmen has indicated
a harvest of about 30 percent of the runs during the
past two seasons.

The steelhead planting program is conducted in
cooperation with the L^nited States Fish and Wildlife
Service and two sportsmen's organizations: California
Kamloops, Inc., and Steelhead Unlimited. The steelhead
are reared to yearling size at Coleman Station, where
eggs are taken from wild fish trapped in Battle

Planted Fish Supplement Runs

A total of 447,812 marked yearling steelhead was
planted during the biennium. The 177,269 fish released
in 1955, as well as the 270,543 released in 1956, were
all planted in the Sacramento River at Princeton
Ferr\-. The project has planted 663,260 marked year-
ling steelhead since its inception.

Approximately 3 percent of the entire run of
adult steelhead into the upper Sacramento River sys-
tem in 1953 consisted of hatchery fish, followed by
S percent in 1954, and 18 percent in 1955.

Facts gathered to date indicate that steelhead runs
in the upper Sacramento River are substantial and
that planted steelhead are making a sizeable contribu-
tion to the fisher\'.

Project studies have also shown that the new year-
round open season on steelhead in the Sacramento
River has not increased the total catch appreciably
and is not detrimental to the fishery.


The department introduced 43,025 yearling silver
salmon into the Sacramento River System in March,



These silvers, averaging 11 to the pound, \\ere
reared at Darrah Springs Hatchery and planted in .Mill
Creek, Tehama County. Additional plants will be
made during the next two years in an effort to estab-
lish silver salmon in the Sacramento River.


The department's fish screen and ladder program,
designed to protect runs of salmon and steelhead, re-
sulted in the construction of five fish ladders and 21
fish screens. The extreme floods of December, 1955,
also caused a large amount of repair and maintenance

There were three permanent crews involved in
screen and ladder work during the biennium. These
crews were headquartered at screen shops located at
Vreka, Red Bluff and Elk Grove.

Among the five fish ladders constructed, two in-
volved major costs and engineering services. Both
were financed largely with \\'ildlife Conservation
Board funds.

The new ladder constructed on the Mokelumne
River at the W'oodbridge Dam, San Joaquin Count\',
was completed in the spring of 1956 at a cost of more
than S3 1,000.


A tunnel ladder constructed at Deer Creek Falls,
Tehama County, is the first of this t\"pe in California.
It has several advantages over conventional types in
circumventing natural barriers, such as waterfalls. It
is considerably less expensive to construct and equally
important, does not detract from the natural beauty
of an area.

Considerable experimental work was conducted on
screens, including a combination air bubble-sound vi-
bration screen, as well as on new drive and cleanins

Fish Hatchery Assistant Btvis Gunderson shows husky salmon tagged in
Trinity River census.

^Fish and Game Photo^



>'j^r«.>'*' '

^Ck4 S<sU*tlCK

A species of salmon new to the California com-
mercial fishery has recently been taken. Pink salmon,
usually found in Pacific waters from Washington to
Alaska, appeared in some numbers in the ocean off
California in 1953. They reappeared in greater num-
bers in 1955, when nearly 2,000 were landed from
Monterey to Crescent City.

There is no minimum size specified for pink salmon
in California laws. Reportedly, fishermen released
many pinks less than 25 inches long (minimum size
for silver salmon). Those landed in 1955 averaged 7.6

Two groups of pink salmon occur ofF California.
One group south of Pt. Arena moves southward to-
ward the Golden Gate as the season progresses, while
simultaneously a second group north of Pf. Arena
moves northward into Oregon waters. In 1955 eight
pink salmon were caught by river gill netters during
August end September. Pink salmon were also ob-
served spawning in the Russian River in the fall of

Pinks live to be two years old. Landings and spawn-
ing runs are characteristically large every other year.
A run of pinks should reappear in 1957. None were
observed in California waters during 1952 and only
a few were seen in 1954 and 1956.

mechanisms. Table 47 in the appendix lists the streams
on which screens and ladders were constructed.

The U. S. Bureau of Reclamation completed the
Tracy Fish Conservation Facility which emplo\s a
new concept in fish screening. It is a gigantic louver-
type structure which passes water and diverts the fish
into bypasses. The department acted in an advisory
capacity- on the project. If successful, the new louver
should annually save millions of bass and hundreds of
thousands of salmon. A similar type was tested in an
irrigation diversion from Deer Creek, Tehama County.
The results of this test were promising to the extent
that this new screen is expected to fill the needs of a
number of larger di\ersions.


The department removed 20 barriers which had
blocked 15 coastal streams during the biennium, thus
creating or improving accessibility to 81 miles of fish-
ing waters.

Some of these barriers were formed by small log
jams and were removed at relativeh" small cost. Xo
major log jam removal projects w ere undertaken dur-
ing the biennium.

Natural barriers created by rock slides or water-
falls were surmounted by complete removal of the
barrier, by the construction of a channel around the
barrier, or b\- building a series of small pool-forming
dams to decrease the distance between the top of the
barrier and the pool immediately below .




Conductinq a creel census on /he Sacramento River near Ball's Ferry. Fisheries Biologist Bill Van Woerl measures an angler's catch.

(Fish and Game Photo by John E. Riggs)

Inland Fisheries activities during the biennium \\ ere
stepped up in nearly every phase of fisheries manage-
ment. Certain activities needed to cope with the ever
increasing water utilization projects received special
emphasis, but increased emphasis was also placed on
the many programs designed principally to maintain
or improve sport fishing in the face of intensified
angling pressures.

Special fact-finding investigations, coupled with ex-
tensive negotiations between department fisheries per-
sonnel and water development agencies, resulted in
adequate protection measures for the fisheries threat-
ened bv \\ ater developments, as well as plans to take
advantage of any new^ fisheries possibilities the\' pre-

Listed on page 46 are some of the major new
public fishing waters created during the biennium.
The Folsom Reservoir in Sacramento, Placer and El
Dorado Counties, Pine Flat Reservoir in Fresno
County, and Isabella Reservoir in Kern County are
three of the most important new reservoirs.

Good Fisheries Developing

Eff'orts to create good fishing in these waters have
been an added burden, but have been highly success-
ful in most instances. A splendid smallmouth bass fish-
erv is developing rapidly in Pine Flat Reservoir, and
it may well attract state-wide attention by the spring
of 1957.

An initial planting of more than 1,000,000 warm-
water fish in Folsom Reservoir created some excellent
fishing in the spring and summer of 1956. It, too,
should develop rapidly into one of the best warm-
water fishing waters in the State.

The department's inland fisheries investigations,
aimed at learning how- to improve and regulate im-
portant fisheries to best advantage, provided the basis
for all changes in regulations.

Thev also provided the basis for other management
activities such as fish stocking and rescue, rough fish
control, flow maintenance dams, construction of
screens and ladders, and the installation of other


stream and lake improvement devices. Tliey are among
the branch's most important activities.


The period covered in tiiis report saw the com-
pletion of California's fish hatchery expansion and
modernization program undertaken more than five
years ago and made possible by funds supplied by
the Wildlife Conservation Board.

During the last fiscal year, California waters were

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