SACRAMENTO - Spawning salmon and steelhead trout already have a perilous journey to return to their birthplace to lay eggs. Now with many Northern California streams and rivers running very low due to the lack of snow and runoff, state wildlife officials are instituting or requesting emergency stream closures.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is seeking to close the American River from Nimbus Dam to the SMUD power lines over the river at Ancil Hoffman Park until April 30. The department will make its request to the Fish and Game Commission at the group's Feb. 5 meeting.
CDFW has already acted on its authority to close south central coast streams to fishing from Dec. 1 through March 7 after determining stream flows are inadequate to provide fish passage for migrating steelhead trout and salmon. The affect waters are:
1. Pescadero Creek and all anadromous reaches of San Mateo County coastal streams normally open for fishing, from Elliot Creek through Milagro Creek.
2. The San Lorenzo River and all its tributaries, as well as all anadromous reaches of coastal streams normally open for fishing in Santa Cruz County from the San Lorenzo River on North through Waddell Creek.
3. Aptos and Soquel Creeks (Santa Cruz County).
4. The Pajaro River and Uvas, Llagas and Corralitos Creeks (Santa Cruz, Monterey and Santa Clara counties).
5. The Carmel River and those sections of San Jose, Gibson, Malpaso and Soberanes creeks west of Highway 1.
6. The Big Sur River and those Big Sur area streams from Granite Creek to Salmon Creek west of Highway 1.
7. The main stem of the Salinas River below its confluence with the Arroyo Seco River and the Arroyo Seco River (Monterey County).
Additionally, CDFW will ask the commission at its meeting to extend the following river closures from Jan. 31 to April 30:
1. The main stem Eel River from the paved junction of Fulmor Road with the Eel River to the South Fork Eel River.
2. The South Fork of the Eel River downstream from Rattlesnake Creek and the Middle Fork Eel River downstream from the Bar Creek.
3. The main stem Van Duzen River from its junction with the Eel River to the end of Golden Gate Drive near Bridgeville.
4. The main stem Mad River from the Hammond Trail Railroad Trestle to Cowan Creek.
5. The main stem of the Mattole River from the mouth to Honeydew Creek.
6. The main stem of Redwood Creek from the mouth to its confluence with Bond Creek.
7. The main stem Smith River from the mouth of Rowdy Creek to the mouth of Patrick Creek (tributary of the Middle Fork Smith River); the South Fork Smith River from the mouth upstream approximately 1,000 feet to the County Road (George Tyron) bridge and Craig's Creek to its confluence with Jones Creek; and the North Fork Smith River from the mouth to its confluence with Stony Creek.
CDFW is also going to seek approval to
1. Close the Russian River main stem below the confluence of the East Branch of the Russian River until April 30.
2. Extend of low flow restrictions angling closures for the north coast and central coast areas (above San Francisco Bay) through April 30.
4. Close all portions of any coastal stream west of any Highway 1 bridge until April 30.
"We fully understand the impact these closures will have on California anglers and the businesses related to fishing in California, and we really feel for them," said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham in a news release,. "However the science is clear. Two-thirds of the wettest part of winter is now behind us and conditions are looking increasingly grim. Under these extreme drought conditions, it is prudent to conserve and protect as many adult fish as possible to help ensure the future of fishing in California."