California. Dept. of Fish and Game.

California fish and game (Volume 1954-1956) online

. (page 8 of 16)
Online LibraryCalifornia. Dept. of Fish and GameCalifornia fish and game (Volume 1954-1956) → online text (page 8 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

to do extremely well in Lower Salmon Lake, Sierra
County. Several thousand of these fish were planted
in the late summer of 1955 at an average size of 12
fish per ounce (under two inches in length). The
following spring they entered the catch in good
numbers and had attained an average length of more
than 6'/2 inches.

2. Strains of brown trout developed in the eastern
states through many years of selective breeding were
brought into California and appear to be showing a
better return to the angler than California brown trout
planted in the same waters. Tests indicating this were

conducted at Rush Creek and at Lower Sardine Lake,
Sierra County.

3. Rainbow trout imported from British Columbia,
when compared with rainbow trout from Cahfornia's
hatcheries, have shown considerable less return to the
angler. This is offset somewhat by the Canadian rain-
bow's greater sporting qualities, preference for arti-
ficial flies over bait, and the fact that returns from a
plant of these fish of catchable size extend over a
longer period.


{Conlhmed fro?/! page 20)
Fish Screens and Ladders

Fish screens were authorized for several irrigation
diversions where fish losses were the most acute. An
allocation was made for a fish ladder at the Lower
Durham-Mutual Water Company diversion in Butte
County. Funds were allocated for plans and specifica-
tions on several other proposed ladders. The Battle
Creek screen was completed, as was the Deer Creek
Falls fish ladder. Funds were withdrawn from the pre-
viously authorized Glenn-Colusa Canal screen when
engineering estimates proved the project to be too

Hatcheries and Stocking

jModernization of the fish food storage facilities at
the Fillmore Hatchery in Los Angeles County was
completed. The proposed San Gabriel Hatchery in
Los Angeles County was withdrawn because of ques-
tionable water supply.

Funds for broodstock ponds at the rehabilitated Mt.
Shasta Hatchery in Siskiyou County and a 150-tray
bank incubator for the Mt. Whitney Hatchery in
Inyo County were allocated. Funds were approved for
studying the feasibility of expanding several hatch-
eries in Region V in Southern California.

In addition, funds were allocated for projects pre-
viously approved. They were the Cedar Creek Hatch-
ery, fish planting tankers, Darrah Springs Hatchery,
Moccasin Creek Hatchery, Mojave Hatchery and Hot
Creek Hatchery.


The waterfowl management area program was al-
most completed. Some construction work remained to
be done on Lower Butte Creek Waterfowl Manage-
ment Area in Butte County, the Mendota in Fresno
County, and the Delta (Grizzly Island) in Solano
County, and additional allocations were made for this

Practically all land acquisition has been completed.

One small project, Sheepy Ridge Waterfowl Public
Shooting Area, in Siskiyou County was approved and


Beach seining to capfure surf fish for tagging

(Fish and Game Photo by Charles F. Crawford)

The long continuous shoreline of California, stretch-
ing more than 1,200 miles from Oregon on the north
to the Mexican international boundary on the south,
is playing a major part in the development of agricul-
ture, industry and the recreational life of the inhabit-
ants of this State.

From the sea comes basic wealth— protein and
nourishment for the inhabitants of the State and the
Country. From contact with the Pacific comes the
health-giving opportunity for marine recreation and

The commercial fishing industry is one of the major
segments of the economic life of our State. The State
of California alone supplies over 90 percent of the
canned tuna of the Nation. Sportfishing in the ocean
is an additional important factor in the economic wel-
fare of the citizens of this State.

California has one of its biggest stakes in its ocean
fisheries, both commercial and sport. The orderly de-
velopment and utilization of these fisheries for the
major enjoyment and benefit of all is the responsibility
of the Marine Fisheries Branch.

Marine Fisheries Commission

The Pacific Alarine Fisheries Commission was
formed in 1947. It is the result of a compact between

the States of California, Oregon, and Washington, and
was created to promote the better use of those fisheries
which are of mutual concern to the three states and
to recommend parallel conservation legislation.

General meetings are held once a year usually in
November or December. The meeting place is ro-
tated among the three states. Attendance includes the
commission, advisers from the fishing industry, re-
search staff members from the three states and the
general public.

Canada, Alaska, and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife
Service send representatives to the general meetings
and to the research stafi^ meetings, which are also held
once a year. Wherever possible the study and man-
agement programs of these groups are coordinated
with those of the three states.

Slate Projects Coordinated

A research coordinator employed by the com-
mission assists in coordination of the state research
agencies, elimination of gaps in the work and in the
development of joint programs of management which
can be applied along the entire Pacific Coast of the
United States and including Canada and Alaska when




During the biennium, the Pacific Marine Fisheries
Commission has coordinated research work on various
ocean species conducted by the three states, Canada,
Alasiia, and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The
work has included studies on the king and silver
salmon, albacore, sablefish and the otter trawl fisheries.
Accounts of the commission's work appears through-
out this report under the species above-named.

'Poftt^ 'S<unt 0<zCc/ieA





Kelp bass








Marine sport fishing continued to show interesting
changes during the biennium. The widely distributed
rockfishes of the genus Sebastodes assumed a state-
\\ide importance never equaled before.

Even in Southern California, where the traditionally
important barracuda, white seabass and kelp bass have
held popular sway for many years, rockfish produced
from 30 to 50 percent of the total catch. In the north-
ern part of the State, salmon continued to provide in-
creasing sport.


Sport fishing party boats are increasing in number
in the northern part of the State. In former years,
there were three boats in the south to one in the north;
now the ratio is approximately one to one. There is
still a big difference in the relative sizes, as the south-
ern boats average 18 anglers per trip as compared to
nine for boats in the north.

Recent legislation in Congress aimed at improving
the safety of the passengers on all manner of craft is
expected to reduce sharply the number of active sport
boats in California waters.

The increase in the southern rockfish catch indicates
one or more conditions. Fishing success for the more
popular game fishes has been decreasing, causing a
search for substitutes. Rockfish are abundant and easy
to take and very naturally fall into the void catches.
Secondly, some evidence points to a possible extension
of some cold water species to the south. This means
that rockfish may be present in locations that were
previously unproductive.

Salmon fishing from skiffs, /ifce //le one below, in Monterey, grew in
popularity during the biennium.

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

The California halibut is one of California's popular
game fishes, but this species has shown a marked de-
crease in numbers since 1950. Following the comple-
tion of the kelp bass study in the biennium, a tagging
study to determine the growth and migration of the
halibut was started in March, 1956. Three thousand
of these fish \\ ere marked over a period of six weeks,
mostly within the confines of the Long Beach-Los
Angeles Harbor. Tagged halibut have been recovered
by both commercial and sport fishermen, and the re-
turns will be used as the basis for recommended man-
agement adjustments in the fishery.


The four most important species in the popular
sport of surf fishing have been studied as a federal
aid project. In order of numbers taken they are: the
barred surfperch, the California corvina, the spotfin
croaker (the latter two in almost equal numbers) and
the yellowfin croaker.

Work on the barred perch is nearing completion.
The fish of this species have been aged, a food studv
has been completed, as have fecundity and maturity
studies. Tagging w ill be completed soon and an analy-
sis of movement patterns compiled.

\'olunteer records from surf fishermen and a
monthly survey and creel census, conducted for one
year, have yielded much data on catch per hour, the
importance of each species in the catch, seasonal fluc-
tuations in catch and the geographic distribution of
the surf species.

Over 11,000 fish of the four project species were
evaluated. Of these, 7,000 taken by beach seine pro-
vided the material needed for the various aspects of
the study. Over 3,500 fish have been tagged, with
about a 5 percent tag recovery.

The summarization of data obtained on the three
species of croaker is continuing with considerable
portions of the study completed.

Maturity studies, relationship of abundance and
movement of the fish to tidal and seasonal cycles, and
tagging analysis have been made on these fish. Obser-
vation of underwater conditions in suppl\ing infor-
mation to round out the picture. When completed,
the analysis of the fishing and life histories will serve
as the basis for a factual management program.


Yellowtail tuna, range from Central California
(Monterey Bay) south along the Baja California
coast and into the Gulf of California. They are most
abundant between Sebastian Viscano Bay, and Mag-
dalena Bay, Baja California, where they may be found
all year around. California is on the fringe of the

That a large part of the population moves freelv
up and down the west coast of Baja California has
been demonstrated by 96 of the 341 returns from
15,116 fish that have been tagged and released. These
fish all moved between 50 and 360 miles from the
locality where they were released. Movements of less
than 50 miles were shown by 224 recoveries and mi-
gratory patterns show that yellowtail go north durmg
the spring and summer and south during the winter.
Few yellowtail remain in California waters during the
winter, thus good angling for this species is depend-
ent upon the success and strength of the migratory
movement out of the Mexican wintering grounds.

That yellowtail tuna are all part of one homogene-
ous population has been shown by studies of body
proportions and counts. Fish from all parts of their
range have been compared and no significant diflFer-
ences were found.

Sport Fishing Increasing

Recreational fishing during 1955 was good, with
36,468 yellowtail as the reported catch. This com-
pared to the postwar average of 30,386 fish per year
by party boats. High catch vulnerability of yellow-
tail in areas heavily exploited by anglers has been
demonstrated by the high rate of tag returns in such

Commercial yellowtail fishing, on the other hand,
declined to a meager 164,000 pounds in 1955, the
lowest commercial catch made since 1916. This de-
cline is the result of lack of market demand and not
shortage of fish.

The commercial yellowtail fishery is now regulated
by laws and additional restrictions are unnecessary in
view of the poor market condition and the biological
facts concerning its life history and migrations.

Progress toward the objectives of this federal aid
project have been achieved; the tagging, statistical and
most other studies are finished. Nearly completed are
studies of food, age and growth, maturity and fecun-
dity. Final preparation of the report of this project
is being made and upon its presentation the project
will be terminated.


The Salton Sea Project, conducted under contract
with the department by the University of California
at Los Angeles, with Wildlife Conservation Board
funds, progressed exceedingly well and with good re-


California corvina being tagged by deparfmenf personnel.

(Fish and Game Photo by Charles F. Crawford)

suits being made toward the establishment of a sport
fishery in this body of water.

Project personnel, working from a headquarters
established at Fish Springs, Salton Sea in 1954, have
been successful in stud\ing conditions at the sea and
determining much of the potential that exists there.
Physical and chemical factors have been carefully in-
vestigated and indicate that the life expectancy of the
sea (for a sport fishery) should be at least 30 to 40

An extensive "dead" area (lacking oxygen) has
been located over much of the bottom of the sea that
lies below 30 feet. This involves about 15 percent of
the total area of the sea, but it is anoxic continuously
only during the hot summer months. All of the or-
ganisms, living in this area during these prolonged
periods when oxygen is lacking, die off and are not
replaced until cooler winter months when oxygen
again becomes available at these depths.

Worm Is Key to Life Cycle

The polxchaet worm, Neanthes succinea, has been
determined as the most important invertebrate in
Salton Sea. The entire fish population, with the ex-
ception of the threadfin shad, is dependent upon it
for food. Studies have been made upon the barnacle
and various planktonic forms found in the sea. Their
importance in the sea's development has been investi-

Of the various fish species now found in the sea,
life histories and food habits have been determined
when possible. In September, 1955, the threadfin shad
was first taken in Salton Sea and the species has since
been captured at a number of widel\' scattered locali-
ties throughout the area.

Many Corvina Present

In the early summer of 1956, personnel investi-
gating the covina in Salton Sea, estimated some 100,-
000 of these fine game fish inhabit the inland body of
water. These represented four \ear classes that had
successfully hatched in the sea, the oldest of which

had attained weights exceeding 18 pounds by mid-
summer 1956.

Fish and invertebrates planted by the department
in Salton Sea to date include: 1,659 shortfin corvina,
63 orangemouth corvina, 2,500 anchovetas, 3,000
mysids (small shrimp-like creatures) and 500 poly-
chaet worms.


The total commercial abalone catch, while declin-
ing slightly from the previous biennium, is still run-
ning better than 4.1 million pounds per year. Almost
the entire catch is composed of two species of aba-
lone, the red, of which the majority are taken in
Central California, and the pink, which comes from
the Channel Islands off Southern California.

The Channel Islands off Southern California were
not opened by law to commercial diving until 1943
and the fishery there did not get under way until
1947. Prior to that time almost all the take consisted
of the red abalone from Central California. By 1949
almost 50 percent of the total catch was pinks, in-
creasing each year to over two-thirds of 195 3's 4.7
million pounds.


Since 1949 the pinks have shown a decline but the
production of reds has remained relativel\' steady.
Although this decline affects the income of the aba-
lone industry it does not mean that the pink abalone
population is in danger. The take appears to be level-
ing off. Most of the older individuals have been har-
vested and now the fishery depends more on the pro-
duction of the younger abalone which have grown
to marketable size. As the remaining older individuals

Department's biologist diver coming aboard after collecting somp/e of
abalone (in net basket on deck) from ocean bottom near Ft. Bragg.

CFish and Game Photo by Glen Bickford)

Underwater pf^otograph taken by a department diver of five red aba-
lone in natural habitat. The two abalone at the top of the photograph
are feeding on seaweed.

(Fish and Game Phuto by Glen Bickford)

are harvested, the catch will probably drop somewhat
below its present level.

This stabilization has been reached in red abalone
production at about 1.5 million pounds per >ear. Since
1949 the annual catch of reds has been between 1.2
and 2 million pounds.

The San Simeon-Alorro Bay area, from which most
of the red abalone come, has been in almost con-
tinuous production since 1929. Abalone in this area
have a rapid growth rate and in most years the
majority of those which reach legal size are to be
harvested. The bulk of the shellfish appearing in the
catch are young, tender abalone of the highest quality
and command a premium price.

Because of the price difference between reds and
pinks many of the Southern California divers moved
into the l\Iorro-San Simeon area during spells of good
diving w eather, but moved back as soon as the weather
got rough.

Aba/one Study Conducted

Whether a commercial abalone fishery could be
established north of the Golden Gate was the subject
of an investigation during the biennium.

Almost the entire red abalone population of the
north coast is located close to the shore line and in
relativel\' shallow water. Few, if any, are found be-
yond 50 feet in depth.

Representative sections of the northern coast line
were examined during the study. In some small areas
observed abalone were found in local abundance, but
with few exceptions were small, their growth rate
slow and their meat was generally of inferior quality.
In many places there were very few abalone above
the eight-inch legal size limit required for reds.

Nowhere among the sections observed were
abalone found in sufficient numbers to support a sus-
tained commercial fishery, as it currently is sustained
on the southern coast of the State.

Transplanting operations have been conducted with
red abalone to determine if this species can be intro-
duced into apparently suitable areas where they are

Bringing on eight-foot beam trawl aboard the deporfmen/'s research

vessel Nautilus. This gear plays a ma/or role in sampling the juvenile

crab population.

(Fish and Game Photo by W. A. Dahlstrom)

not present, or if the population can be built up in
places where they are relatively uncommon. Results
of the transplants were not determined at the end
of the biennium.


Many years ago the research on crabs led to sound
conservation regulations. As a result a valuable re-
source thrived during years of intensive harvesting.

However, conditions in the crab fishery changed
during the last few years and it was necessary that
the fishery be re-evaluated. The results of studies,
coupled with the cooperation of the crab industry,
brought about changes in the crab laws in 1955 in
w hich the season was shortened and provision was
made for openings in crab traps through which many
undersized crabs could escape.

The 1955 Legislature requested additional investiga-
tion to further improve conservation and management
of this fishery.

The research is determining the effects of intensive
fishing on the resource. Observations are being made
of commercial fishing operations and the catch at
Eureka and San Francisco. Records are made of the
sizes and sexes of crabs taken and released aboard the
fishing vessels as well as those kept for marketing.
Study of juvenile crabs is being conducted to deter-
mine the factors causing strong and weak years of
survival which result in years of relatively high and
low harvest.

Escape Openings

Studies conducted aboard department research ves-
sels and from commercial vessels revealed the value
of escape openings for small crabs. Approximately 20
times as many crabs (mostl\' females and small males)
are held in traps with no escape openings as are held
in traps with four-inch circular openings providing
an exit for the smaller crabs.

The natural movement of market crabs is being
investigated by department scientists through tagging
studies initiated in the San Francisco-Bodega region
during October and November, 1955. Recoveries
made during the 1955-1956 season showed movements
of onh- a few miles from points of release with a

general seasonal migration toward deeper water as
the season progressed. Similar tagging work was
being followed in the Eureka-Crescent City area
prior to and during the 1956-57 season.

Record Seen Possible

Landings of market crabs leveled off at 7,000,000 to
8,000,000 pounds for the three years following the
high of 13,000,000 pounds in 1952. However, the
1955-56 season landings indicate that the total land-
ings for 1956 may approach the high level of 1952.

In the San Francisco area the market crab catch
has remained relatively stable with annual landings of
from 4,000,000 to 5,000,000 pounds for the past eight
years. The drop from 1952 to 1955, was due to a
decrease in north coast landings which hit a low of
about a million and a half pounds in 1955. This year
(1956), the landings in the Eureka-Crescent City
area have sk\rocketed upward to almost five times
that recorded in 1955.


During 1955 the oyster fishery saw the greatest
activity since 1942, and 1956 figures may be even
higher. Landings of Pacific oysters in 1955 very
closeh- approached the all-time high of 1.7 million
pounds of 1941. Oyster culture allotments for over
5.000 acres have been issued by the department since
1954, bringing the total area under oyster cultivation
to nearl\- 14,000 acres.

The 1955 Legislature adopted extensive changes in
laws governing shellfish culture. Fish and Game Code
sections w ere updated to include license fees, privilege
taxes and rental fees to be paid by shellfish cultivators.
Support of the oyster industry and organized sports-
men helped to bring these changes about.

Regulations were amended by the Fish and Game
Commission. These regulations now prescribe mini-
mum use of state water bottoms allotted for oyster
culture and provide for expedient inspections of shell-
fish shipments destined for planting in California

Cases of seed oysters on pieces of shell are Imported ham Japan. The

ship is hurriedly unloaded so that the valuable seed can be planted in

California bays.

(Fish and Game Photo by H. G. Orcutt)


Seed oysters attached to pieces of shell are scattered on tidal flats.

CFish and Game Photo by H. G. Orcutt)

Reason for Imports

Temperature and salinity conditions do not reach
the proper level for a long enough time ordinarilv to
permit spawning of imported oysters in the water of
our bays. How ever, this seeming shortcoming is more
than overcome by the abundance of food organisms
in these bays and the very favorable environment for

This results in a very fast growing, meaty ONSter,
with prime quality and flavor much in demand by
the oyster-consuming public.

The Pacific giant oyster is the principal product of
the California industry. The young seed oysters are
imported from Japan and grown in our bays to meet
the great consumer demand in San Francisco and Los
Angeles. This market is large and is expanding to
include special canned and frozen products.

California oystermen enjoy remarkable production
from their plantings. They have a crop ready for
market in 14 to 20 months from time of planting seed.
This is a year shorter than the time required in
Washington state and two years shorter than that
required in Japan. The shipments of seed oysters
from Japan have increased tremendously during
recent >ears.

With such phenomenal increases in seed plantings,
a corresponding increase in landings can be expected.
The accumulating effect on landings can be seen in
the "Oyster Imports and Landings" table in this

New Methods

With the re-establishment of the industry in 1952,
Morro Bay culturists took the lead in oystering by
introducing methods in California to \-ield greater
landings per unit of area farmed. During the 1954-56
biennium, Humboldt Bay operations have proceeded
from test plantings to large scale oystering w ith highly
specialized equipment. A modern hydraulic harvesting
dredge, a large shucking plant and a new cannery are
now in operation where in 1954 there was only the
encouragement from results of test plantings.

1 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Online LibraryCalifornia. Dept. of Fish and GameCalifornia fish and game (Volume 1954-1956) → online text (page 8 of 16)