California trout season opener
The general trout opener in many counties throughout California will commence on April 24, one hour before sunrise. In Inyo and Mono counties, all waters are open to fishing on this date.
“We have planted more than 56,000 pounds of trout for the opener and expect to plant about as many trout as usual by July,” said Bill Cox, Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Hatchery Program Manager.
Eric Engbretson – U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceDFG is making every effort to stock trout in all accessible waters approved for planting prior to the season opener. Lingering wintery conditions could play a major role in how many rivers, creeks, lakes and reservoirs can be stocked before April 24.
This year each body of water in the state that is stocked with trout must go through a pre-stocking evaluation procedure outlined in a recently completed Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement. This procedure requires the Department of Fish and Game to consider each sensitive or listed species relative to the stocking of trout. DFG fisheries staff have made the evaluations a top priority and thus far 45 waters have been approved for stocking in the Eastern Sierra, with more expected to be approved prior to the opener. Biologists plan on completing habitat assessments for remaining waters as conditions permit prior to the end of July.
Anglers can find out which waters are approved for stocking by going online at www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Hatcheries/FishPlanting/Evaluation.asp.
Most lakes, rivers and streams have a limit of five trout per day and 10 in possession. However, regulations differ on season opening and closing dates, bag limits, minimum and maximum size limits and gear restrictions. Anglers are advised to check the 2010 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulation booklet, found online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations, for regulations specific to each body of water.
Crowley Lake in the Eastern Sierra is expected to be one of the most popular opening day destinations for anglers from around the state. In past years, an estimated 10,000 anglers have turned out for the opener, and approximately 50,000 trout are caught during the first week of the season. Last fall, the reservoir was planted with approximately 190,000 small and medium-sized trout, and last spring, the lake was planted with 250,000 small trout. Because of excellent food sources in the 5,280-acre lake, these trout grow to catchable sizes and weigh at least three-quarters of a pound by the opener. About ten percent of the trout caught at Crowley during opening weekend weigh over a pound and a half. These fish are from stocks planted before 2009 or are wild fish produced in Crowley’s tributary waters.
Anglers are asked to be particularly vigilant when cleaning fish and fishing gear at Crowley Lake and in the upper and lower Owens River Drainage. The New Zealand Mud Snail was discovered several years ago in the Owens River Drainage and DFG is trying to keep the snail from spreading into other waters. To avoid spreading New Zealand Mud Snails to other waters, anglers are advised to clean and dispose of their fish guts in trash cans, rather than throw them back into the water. Wading gear should be properly cleaned before using in new waters.
All persons age 16 and older must possess a valid California fishing license to fish within the state’s borders. Freshwater fishing license can be purchased online for the first time on line at www.dfg.ca.gov/OnlineSales or at regional DFG offices or other authorized dealers. Anglers no longer have to display their license visibly above the waist but they must have it in their possession while fishing.
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