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Klamath River Dam Removal Receives Federal Approval

by Bob Garbarino

In what has been a decades long saga, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently approved the removal of four dams on the Klamath River by issuing a License Surrender Order for the Lower Klamath River Hydroelectric Project.  This will be the largest dam removal project in US history.  The primary expected benefit of removing the dams is restoring the Chinook and Coho Salmon runs by expanding spawning area upstream of the dams and allowing unobstructed passage downstream to the ocean.  Pre-construction begins in spring 2023 with Copco dam #2 scheduled to be removed in late summer 2023 and the remaining 3 dams removed by October 2024.  Hopefully this will bring a brighter future for future generations of Native Americans, anglers and all who benefit from a healthy river system!

Press Release:
https://klamathrenewal.org/ferc-approves-license-surrender-and-decommissioning-of-the-lower-klamath-project-dams/

Article:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/17/us-dam-removal-endangered-salmon-klamath-river

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Delta Smelt….Where are you?

by Bob Garbarino

Over period of seven years, surveys in the Delta Estuary have found zero Delta smelt during the month of September. Data is recorded every year from September through December. The last month and Delta smelt (2 fish) were caught was October 2017. See https://www.dfg.ca.gov/delta/data/fmwt/indices.asp
In order to ward off extinction of Delta smelt, UC Davis has raising them in a captive breeding program. Beginning late last year and continuing early 2022, the hatchery fish were released into the delta as part of an experiment.
Along with the Delta smelt, populations of longfin smelt, striped bass, American shad, threadfin shad and splittail have all declined catastrophically coinciding when the State Water Project went into operation in 1967. Other factors contributing to the decline are toxic chemicals, decreasing water quality and invasive species.
For more information, go to https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2022/11/3/2133402/-Breaking-Zero-Delta-smelt-found-in-Midwater-Trawl-Survey-for-seventh-September-in-a-row?utm_campaign=recent

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Steelhead and Coho Found in Mill Creek

by Bob Garbarino

Just over a year ago, a small dam on Mill Creek near Bonny Doon was removed (see my article in the June 2021 newsletter https://www.santacruzflyfishing.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/SCFF_June_2021.pdf). One of the expected outcomes was to expand and improve spawning habitat for fish. Now, scientists have reported some unexpected good news. Twelve juvenile steelhead and 15 coho fry have been found in the creek. It is the first time coho have been found in the creek. Though it is early in the recovery process and more work to be done—like removing invasive plant species and placement of large woody debris—this is encouraging news, no doubt.

For more interesting details on this article, see the following websites:

https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Endangered-coho-salmon-Mill-Creek-California-17492120.php

Coho, Cobble, and Creek Beds: A Year After the Mill Creek Dam Was Removed

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Los Padres Dam Steelhead Migration Data Results

by Bob Garbarino

An interesting recent article from FISHBIO discussed a study performed by the National Marine Fisheries Services on the migration of steelhead from the Carmel River up into Los Padres Reservoir and and their return out of the reservoir and downstream toward the ocean.  The data obtained from the experiment supports the concept that fishways at dams dams present what they call ecological traps.  The article describes ecological traps:  “Animals expressing instinctual behaviors that put them at disadvantage in an altered environment is referred to as an ecological trap.”    The goal of the study was to determine the how many fish made it back out of the reservoir on their way out to the ocean.   There are two routes for the fish to make it out:  over the spillway (when there is enough water) and through a bypass.  Both adult and juvenile steelhead preferred the spillway by a significant margin and that very low percentage of  fish make it back down to an antenna 8.7 miles downstream.  The scientists concluded that the dam significantly impairs downstream passage and the fishway is creating an ecological trap.  I encourage you to read the full article….it’s not long and and is quite interesting.  FISHBIO has an office in Santa Cruz.

https://fishbio.com/what-goes-up-might-not-come-down-fishways-as-an-ecological-trap/

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Conservation Organizations Thank Santa Cruz Fly Fishing Club

by Bob Garbarino

In case you missed the September meeting, I want to revisit one of the important annual SCFF traditions: donations to support conservation organizations. Two of these organizations, CalTrout and the Coastal Watershed Council, received donations. I wanted to share with you thank you letters from them. Through your membership and participation in our fundraising activities, our club is able to support CalTrout, Coastal Watershed Council and other conservation organizations that help repair, enhance and preserve our fisheries.  Thank you!

From the CalTrout website:
“At California Trout, we work to ensure healthy waters and resilient wild fish for a better California. It’s our belief that abundant wild fish indicate healthy waters and that healthy waters benefit all Californians. With more than sixty large-scale conservation projects underway, in tandem with public policy efforts in Sacramento, our six regional offices work tirelessly to advance our cause through a three-pillared approach to conservation.”

Letter from CalTrout:

Dear Bob,
Thank you so much for your gift of $500.00 received on 09/08/2022. Our vision of a California with healthy waters flowing from headwater to sea, where the diversity and resilience of our waters and fish match that of the people throughout our state, is achievable.
We are working harder than ever! Your contribution directly supports:
Removal of Rindge Dam and upstream barriers to restore Malibu Creek watershed which includes critical habitat for endangered Southern steelhead.
Working to establish baseline science on the Klamath River to capture variability and response in the post-dam removal era.
Recreating a healthy ecosystem in Humboldt Bay by restoring Cochran Creek estuary, which has been cut off from the ocean and no longer provides quality habitat to native fish and other wildlife.
Tracking coho and more in Walker Creek while monitoring water quality and temperature to better understand conditions for endangered salmon and threatened steelhead.
Expanding our presence in two new regions critical to habitat recovery and statewide impact: Battle Creek and Sacramento.
Building our Outreach and Education Program to effectively foster the next generation of conservationists, one that mirrors the diversity of our state.
Together, we will leave California a better place for future generations.
Yours in resilience,

Casey O’Sullivan
Membership Manager

From the Coastal Watershed Council website:

“The Coastal Watershed Council is transforming the lower San Lorenzo River into a community destination by inspiring people to explore, enhance and protect this critical natural resource.”

Letter from the Coastal Watershed Council:

Dear Bob and members of the Santa Cruz Fly Fishing club,

Thank you for being among the growing group of people committed to transforming the lower San Lorenzo River into a place where all Santa Cruzans can connect to nature in their daily lives.

Your donation of $250, received on August 31, 2022, matters so much. Together, we’re enhancing native habitat, improving water quality, and engaging thousands of youth through environmental education and leadership development. With your gift to the Coastal Watershed Council, we’re increasing positive activity along the river and the Santa Cruz Riverwalk, an urban park that lines its banks.

l’d welcome an opportunity to walk along the Riverwalk, meet for a chat, or schedule a call to learn more about why you care about the watershed. Let’s talk!

Every day, l’m inspired by our vision of a thriving urban riverfront and the support of people like you. Thank you.

ln gratitude,

Laurie Egan
Executive Director

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The Drought—Lake Shasta and Downstream

by Bob Garbarino

Lake Shasta, the largest reservoir in California is 124 feet below its fill line. It is at 36% of total capacity. The last three years have been the worst in the history of the reservoir, which was formed in 1948. While many of California’s reservoirs receive water from snowmelt, Lake Shasta gets 90% from rainfall. Power generation, fish, farmers, municipal water departments are all negatively impacted by restricted flows from Shasta. Central Valley farmers have been reduced to 18% of a normal year’s allocation. However, with one good year of rain, the reservoir can almost fully recover as it did in 1977 when it was down 230 feet. For more on this ongoing story and a short news video go to: https://www.ktvu.com/news/drought-critically-low-water-levels-at-lake-shasta-californias-largest-reservoir

In other news related to the drought and the Sacramento River, the Bureau of Land Management and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working together to help the winter-run Chinook salmon in the midst of the ongoing drought. The work is taking place at the Livingston Stone National Fish Hatchery directly below Shasta Dam. One of the projects is the installation of chillers to maintain the cold water temperature required for rearing Chinook at the hatchery as the lake water supply warms. For more information, go to: https://goldrushcam.com/sierrasuntimes/index.php/news/local-news/39957-in-california-reclamation-and-u-s-fish-wildlife-service-launch-innovative-plan-to-aid-winter-run-chinook-salmon-amid-extreme-drought

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Nevada Paiute Tribe Receives Federal Grant

by Bob Garbarino

There is a dam on the Truckee River just upstream of Pyramid Lake near the town of Nixon. Numana Dam was built in 1971 to divert water from the river to be used by the Paiute Tribe for irrigation on their reservation. However, this dam was not originally constructed to allow the cui-ui fish to migrate up the Truckee toward Lake Tahoe to spawn. The cui-ui is an endangered fish only found in Pyramid Lake and the Truckee River.

In April the Interior Department approved $8.3 million to support Lahontan cutthroat and cui-ui recovery. The project will include installation of screens to allow the fish to move down to Pyramid and an underwater ramp to migrate up past the dam.  For more information on this and how climate change is having a negative impact on fish populations in our rivers, go to the web page.

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Stephen “Stosh” Rudzinski Remembered

by Conservation Chair Bob Garbarino

This edition of Conservation Concerns is dedicated to Steve “Stosh” Rudzinski. A self-described “tree hugger” who contributed in so may ways to our club. He actively served the club in many roles including President, Conservation Chair, Fly Casting Master, Facilities Coordinator, Fishout Master—just to name a few. I had the pleasure of spending time with him caravanning up to Pyramid Lake at 4 AM, having a brew at Beer 30, shuttling buckets of steelhead fry on Bean Creek, sharing fish stories at over breakfast at the Cookhouse and sitting next to him at his favorite “spot” at Blockhouse.  When you were at Blockhouse it was only right that you yield the “spot” to Stosh. Those of us who had an opportunity to fish with him came to appreciate his angling knowledge and curiosity in all things fishy. The guy could flat-out fish. Those of us who spent time with him got to experience his unique views on a wide range of subjects. But what I remember most about Stosh was his witty sense of humor and big heart. He always had time for people and liked to engage in conversation. And if you didn’t have a nickname,  he would conjure up one!  Thank you Stosh for all the good times. You are missed!

Your pal Bob Grababurrito.


NOTE:

Steve Rudzinski Memorial Celebration – July 6th / 12th Avenue Beach area – Santa Cruz- 5-7 P.M.

There will be a potluck on the beach coordinated by Steve’s daughter, Renee.  If you are going, please let Tom Hogye (thomashogye@yahoo.com) know  so that he can pass the information to Renee.

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Endangered California Salmon Returned To Safer Waters After More Than A Century

by Conservation Chair Bob

Teams from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have begun relocating endangered winter-run Chinook salmon to upper Battle Creek and threatened spring-run Chinook salmon to Clear Creek. The last time this relocation took place was 110 years ago. The fish are being moved from the Sacramento River below Shasta and Keswick Dams. The hope is that the colder water in the new environment will support spawning conditions and increased egg survival. The lasting drought, higher water temperatures, thiamine deficiency, predators and other stressors have devastated the Chinook over the last two years in this region. For additional details, go to the website below.

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Klamath Tribes and Klamath Water Users Respond to BOR Water Allocations

by Conservation Chair

On April 11th, the Bureau of Reclamation announced plans for the Klamath Project water allocation for 2022.
https://www.klamathfallsnews.org/news/reclamation-opens-klamath-project-irrigation-season-with-limited-water-allocation

The Klamath Tribes and Klamath Water Users have both responded. As you might expect, both groups are extremely disappointed with the BOR announcement. Being that SCFF is focused on fish and environmental conditions that support them, we look for ways to support conservation causes.  However, issues that involve water have many stakeholders. When I came across the Klamath Tribes response, I saw a link to the Klamath Water Users press release. So I decided to include both.

Here is the Klamath Tribes Response:
https://www.klamathfallsnews.org/news/klamath-tribes-respond-to-bor-water-allocations
Bureau of Reclamation 2022 Operation Plan hastens extinction of endangered C’waam and Koptu
CHILOQUIN, Ore. – Yesterday’s announcement by the Bureau of Reclamation of its 2022 Operations Plan is perhaps the saddest chapter yet in a long history of treaty violations visited upon us by the United States.
Under the Plan, Reclamation intends to usurp “up to 62,000-acre-feet” of water from the nearly extinct and (Klamath Tribes) treaty-protected C’waam (Lost River sucker) and Koptu (shortnose sucker) at the height of their spawning season. Instead, despite the clear mandate of the Endangered Species Act to prioritize the needs of endangered species, Reclamation intends to send that water to irrigators in violation of Reclamation’s own water allocation formula.
Today, we see in the Klamath Basin the consequences of nearly 120 years of ecosystem degradation at the hands of the settler society. They have drained hundreds of thousands of acres of open water and wetlands, mowed down the largest pine forests in the west, mined the groundwater to the point that wells now go dry where marshes and lakes formerly prevailed, straightened whole river systems and striven to eradicate beavers that once engineered complex waterways, allowed their cattle to destroy riparian zones and defecate in icy cold springs, and dammed the mighty Klamath River five times.
The Klamath Tribes are tired of hearing: “it is another bad water year,” “we are all suffering,” and “come to the table so we can negotiate an end to this conflict.” This disaster is the entirely predictable and inevitable consequence of multi-generational mismanagement and poor judgment.
Neither the Klamath Tribes nor our downriver tribal brothers and sisters made any of the decisions that brought us here. And we have nothing left with which to “compromise.”  Global warming is undoubtedly a global problem, but thus far its local consequences appear to be exacerbating existing and systematic inequalities between ourselves and the larger society.
It is time for all involved to realize that this homeland ecosystem we all share and profess to love has limits. This sacred place that has always been the home of the Klamath Tribes is exceedingly complex, evolved over thousands of years, and made from symbiotic life-forms.
The Klamath Tribes remain committed to cooperating with those genuinely interested in restoring the ecological health of our treaty-protected lands. We are equally committed to fighting those who don’t.

Here is the Klamath Water Users response:
https://www.klamathfallsnews.org/news/failed-federal-water-policy-will-shut-down-klamath-basin-food-production-for-second-consecutive-year
KWUA Responds to Reclamation’s water announcement
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – The federal government announced today that it will deprive highly fertile farms and ranches in the Klamath Basin of irrigation water necessary to produce food this year. The decision comes at a time of global food security fears, rapidly rising food prices, and concerns that grocery store shelves may become empty this year.
Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA), which represents irrigation water users who produce food based on once-reliable irrigation water supplies from Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon’s largest surface water body, decried today’s announcement.
“We have 170,000 acres that could be irrigated this year and we’re ready to get to work,” said KWUA President Ben DuVal, who farms with his wife and daughters on land served by the Project. “On a single acre, we can produce over 50,000 pounds of potatoes, or six thousand pounds of wheat. This year, most of that land will not produce any food because the government is denying water for irrigation. We’ll just be trying to keep the weeds and dust under control.”
KWUA leaders said that there is adequate water available this year to provide irrigation from Upper Klamath Lake to the Klamath Project, a system of infrastructure that was built to deliver water to a community of family farms straddling the California-Oregon border. The Project provides water to some of the richest soils in the world. But federal regulators intend to deny irrigation water needed to produce food, at a time when the country and world most need it.
Rigid operating guidelines mandated by federal regulatory agencies mean that the Project’s family farms and ranches will have an uncertain amount of water, probably less than 15 percent of what they need, although producers will not finally know how much water they will have until it is far too late to plan their operations.
This federal policy comes on the heels of the federal government’s 2021 approach, when the government afforded zero water through Project facilities for irrigation for the first time in the 118-year history of the Project. The announced 2022 supply is the second-worst ever.
In today’s announcement of a 2022 Klamath Project Operations Plan, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation directed that water that could be used for irrigation or wildlife benefits will instead be used to artificially augment flows 40 miles downstream in the Klamath River, and to maintain specified elevations of water in Upper Klamath Lake.
In each case, the water will be dedicated to fish species based on regulatory commands of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). NMFS has authority related to coho salmon, considered a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and USFWS has authority related to Lost River suckers and shortnose suckers, both of which are listed as endangered under the ESA.
The federal agencies’ experiment of increasing water allocation to these ESA-listed species has been tried for 25 years in the Klamath Basin, yet there is no evidence this policy has benefitted the target fish populations.
“If we farmers failed as badly as the federal agency biologists who are controlling water policy, our bankers would have foreclosed on us 20 years ago,” said Mr. DuVal. “The regulators’ performance is unacceptable and should be embarrassing to federal decision-makers.”
KWUA Executive Director Paul Simmons said that NMFS’s requirements are egregious and out of balance. “Between now and the end of irrigation season, there will be about 210,000 acre-feet of inflow to Upper Klamath Lake,” he said. “But NMFS is telling Reclamation to release over 400,000 acre-feet of water down the Klamath River.”
To furnish that much water requires artificial supplementation of natural flow by releasing water that was stored behind a dam at the outlet of Upper Klamath Lake during the non-irrigation season.
KWUA leaders insist that NMFS’s regulatory demands are neither fair nor effective.
“It’s the world’s worst-kept secret that NMFS is using Klamath Project water to try to mitigate problems not caused by the Klamath Project,” said Mr. Simmons. “And when that doesn’t work, they just do it again, and then again.”
Although food producers in the Klamath Project are hamstrung, by regulatory demands, they share the concern that Pacific salmon stocks are struggling. “That’s bad for fishing communities and it’s bad for all of us,” said Mr. DuVal. A combination of many factors has affected fish populations, including a history of overfishing, sea lion predation, and ocean conditions. “I understand that it’s hard to regulate ocean conditions,” said Mr. DuVal. “But harming my family and destroying my community doesn’t fix ocean conditions and it doesn’t save fish.”
Project water shortage will also be exacerbated by USFWS’s stringent requirements for Reclamation to withhold water from the Project to maintain specified depths of water in Upper Klamath Lake. There is no evidence that regulation of irrigation supplies has yielded any benefit to sucker populations in Upper Klamath Lake.
Federal water policies’ negative impacts on food production comes at a time of global food security concerns, soaring prices at the grocery store, and fears of empty shelves. Klamath Basin farmers and ranchers are bracing for dust storms and resulting poor air quality and other local environmental impacts that predictably arise when once-reliable surface water supplies are directed elsewhere by federal agencies.
In addition, in 2022, for the first time ever, two federal national wildlife refuges will go dry because water will be redirected to a few ESA-listed species. Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge both depend on water diverted and delivered by irrigation districts. Those critically important features of the Pacific Flyway for waterfowl are disabled.
“Under the current application of the ESA in the Klamath there are no winners,” former KWUA President Tricia Hill said in testimony before a congressional committee last month. “Only losers. And I cannot convey how heartbreaking it is to watch our basin—from its people to its environment to its wildlife—crumble around me.”
Reclamation also announced today that there will be $20 million available to help mitigate economic damage to farms that do not use irrigation water this year. While KWUA expressed its gratitude to its congressional delegation and the Commissioner of Reclamation for that funding, local irrigators lament that dollars cannot replace the loss of food production, jobs, and community stability directly caused by unbalanced federal water management policies.
Klamath Irrigation District President and KWUA board member Ty Kliewer said that his family and his neighbors cannot live through a repeat of last year. “Government mismanagement is causing this situation, period. Many of my fellow producers liquidated entirely last year, and I don’t know who will make it through this year. If the government doesn’t restore balance to water policy immediately, it will have wiped out this community of food producers, for nothing.”

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Plastic in Our Oceans—Revisited

by Conservation Chair Bob Garbarino

It’s amazing how much plastic is a part of our world. It’s hard to imagine how we could go about our daily lives without the utility and convenience it provides. However, our planet is becoming overwhelmed with plastic—especially in our oceans. Here are some statistics that appeared in a recent article in Fishbio titled “Toxic Soup in the Plastic Age”.

  • By the year 2050, the amount of plastic in the world’s oceans may outweigh all of the fish combined.
  • Plastic use will triple in use by 2050
  • Almost a third of the plastic produced each year is not disposed of, and much of it eventually makes its way to the sea
  • Plastic is ingested by more than 700 species of marine wildlife including fish, birds, and marine mammals
  • Once present in the food web, plastic particles can end up in market species such as tuna, and eventually humans
  • They tiny pieces of plastic that result from degradation can persist for hundreds to thousands of years
  • Our country disposes of 30 billion plastic bottles a year

This all sounds overwhelming and we are going to drown in our own creation. So, what can we do? Here are ideas from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

  • Support policies to reduce single-use plastic
  • Cut back on single use plastic
  • Recycle properly
  • Get involved

For more specific actions you can take from these ideas from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, go to
https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/act-for-the-ocean/plastic-pollution/what-you-can-do

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Steelhead Spa–What’s That?

by Conservation Chair Bob Garbarino

If you are interested in fish-related scientific information, you should check out fishbio.com. They have articles on fisheries research, monitoring and conservation. I came across an article on steelhead kelt reconditioning. What the heck is that? First of all…what is a kelt. Not all steelhead die after spawning one time. Some spawn multiple times. Steelhead that return to the ocean or an estuary after spawning are called kelts. During the journey back down the river post-spawn, kelts are challenged by obstacles such as dams that are typically designed to aid juvenile salmonids—not adults. This is the case on the Columbia river. To help the fish survive, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and the Yakama Nation have been practicing kelt reconditioning. This involves capturing the fish and placing them in holding tanks where they are given medical attention, fed and allowed to rest for several months before release. The fish are also tracked by PIT tags after being released. For more information on this interesting subject, go to the link.

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Prairie Creek Restoration

by Conservation Chair

Save the Redwoods League, in partnership with Caltrout, the Yurok Tribe, National Park Service, California State Parks, California State Coastal Conservancy, NOAA Restoration Center and Wildlife Conservation Board has begun a project that includes returning Prairie Creek and adjacent floodplain habitat for salmon and steelhead back to a more natural state. The project is taking place adjacent to the former Orick Mill site north of Eureka in Humboldt County. For more information on the overall scope of the project and an inspiring video, go to the link.

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SCFF Club Members Volunteer Locally

by Conservation Director Bob Garbarino

Our club has been active lately in supporting local conservation groups.  This is an important aspect of the club mission where we can help improve, repair and sustain the fishery—especially on a local level.  Here are a few noteworthy events.

Coho Salmon Release with MBSTP

Late last December, Jeff Gose, Jerry McKeon and I helped the Monterey Salmon and Trout Project release adult Coho Salmon into two locations in Pescadero Creek.  These fish began life at the MBSTP at the Kingfisher Flat Hatchery near Davenport.  After the CZU fire hit, they were trucked up to the Warm Springs Hatchery in Sonoma County where they were raised to adult spawn maturity.  These fish were RFID tagged so each one can be identified in the future.  The three of us were all able to shuttle the fish from the truck and handle some as well as revive a few.   Some of the fish were in the 6 pound range.  Here is a quote from Jerry McKeon that I think expresses Jeff and my sentiments as well:

“Helping MBSTP release over a hundred Coho into Pescadero Creek was very rewarding for me.  As anglers we have the unique ability to help revive fish that don’t immediately take to the new water.  I was also very impressed by how well a group of mostly strangers worked together.  Everyone had a sense of urgency and a single focus of getting these salmon safely into the creek.  It was a real privilege to be a part of and if the opportunity arises again, I’ll happily raise my hand. “

Coastal Watershed Council January River Health Day

On January 15th, our own Elaine and John Cook, Jeff Slaboden and Camille Padilla volunteered their time to help plant and maintain native seedlings along the banks of the San Lorenzo River to increase biodiversity and revitalize the river ecosystem.  I spoke to John and Elaine and they both said it was a worthwhile and rewarding experience.  Good work and thank you all!

Coho Salmon Release with MBSTP—Part Two

On January 19th, member Sam Bishop assisted MBSTP with a follow-up release on Pescadero Creek.  Sam said “They are ripe and ready to spawn. We hope they will do that right there near the release so their kids head out to sea next year.”  Amen!  Thank you Sam helping out and for serving on the board at MBSTP.

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Klamath River Salmon Release

by Conservation Director Bob Garbarino

As of last month, the California Department of Fish and Game has released 1.1 million juvenile fall run Chinook salmon into the Klamath River. The goal is to release 2 million fish. These fish were hatched at the Iron Gate Hatchery on the Klamath River and were originally scheduled to be released last spring. However, due to drought conditions and a disease outbreak, the fish were relocated to three other locations over the summer. This is good news for a river that has seen its once-storied Chinook salmon runs decimated for a variety of reasons—including low flows and dams. The other positive news is the planned removal of four dams on the Klamath that will allow fish more access to spawning waters.

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Zayante Creek Habitat Improvement Project

by Conservation Bob Garbarino

The Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County, the City of Santa Cruz, the San Lorenzo Valley Water District and the County of Santa Cruz have partnered to complete an instream improvement project on Zayante Creek. The work took place on a one mile stretch of the upper creek. Large trees were anchored in the creek to improve the natural habitat for steelhead and coho salmon. Historically, some of the higher juvenile steelhead population densities in the San Lorenzo River watershed been found in Zayante Creek. Check out the web link below: https://carcd.org/2021/10/rcd-san-cruz-completes-an-instream-habitat-improvement-project-on-zayante-creek/

Make sure you view this brief Youtube video that describes the project.

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Salinas River cleanup 2021

by Geoff Malloway - Central Coast Flyfishing

About 24 volunteers showed up at the Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge this morning to clean up garbage and illegal camps. The Salinas Valley Fly Fishers, Santa Cruz Fly Fishermen, Trout Unlimited and the Carmel River Steelhead Association were represented. This year, about half of a 30-yard dumpster was collected…down from the full 30-yard dumpsters of previous years. Thanks to all who showed up and, to those who fish the refuge but couldn’t help this time, see you next November.
A special thanks to Benny and Jay Jefferson, of Jefferson Ag Management, for their continued stewardship of the refuge and use of their heavy equipment! Also, thanks are due to the Monterey Regional Waste Management District for the use of their 30-yard dumpster!

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Fish Handling–Best Practices

by Conservation Director Bob Garbarino

Before I delve into the subject of this article, I want to thank Steve (Stosh) Rudzinski for encouraging me to get involved in a more active role in SCFF as Conservation Director and to Tom Hogye and the board for welcoming me and their support.   If any of you reading this have any input, questions about conservation as it pertains to the club or want to get involved, please contact me.

On the subject of fish handling to help them survive after release, I came across an organization devoted to that endeavor.  I never heard of them but some of you members may have. The outfit is called Keep Fish Wet. I found out about them while visiting the FFI website. Reading some of the science-based tips on the website has me realizing I can do much better in the process of landing (or netting), photographing (if desired) and releasing fish under various conditions.

Here is a summary of the Tips found under Best Practices on the Keep Fish Wet website

Follow Local Regulations
Examples are some areas prohibit removing specific species of fish from the water and requirements to use barbless hooks.

Think Twice Before Going After Spawning Fish
One of the reasons given is that targeting and catching fish while spawning can disrupt and impact their lifecycle. This depends on the species of fish and spawning habits.

Be Wary of Warm Water
As water warms, the dissolved oxygen in it decreases. This causes the fish to get stressed quicker and take longer for them to recover. Some species are less resilient than others.

Use Barbless Hooks
Barbless hooks cause less damage to the fish’s mouth and are easier to remove. They are also much easier to remove from your body and clothing.

Use Artificial Baits
We fly fishers by nature adhere to this suggestion. This is the number one cause of fish mortality as they are more likely to swallow bait.

Use Rubber Nets
Rubber nets cause less damager to fish slime, scales, fins and gills. Hooks are less likely to get stuck in the net.

Limit Use of Lip Grippers
Lip grippers should only be used if there are no alternatives to controlling and handling fish (tiger fish, is an example). If it is used, never hold a fish vertically.

Carry Hook Removal Devices
Ideally this tool will help reduce the time it takes to release the fish with less damage. If the fish swallows the fly, cut the line instead of trying to remove the fly.

Limit Fight Time
Try to bring the fish to hand quickly without overplaying it. This will reduce stress on the fish.

Hold Fish In or Over Water
If held over land or a boat and if it slips out of your hand, that is obviously not good for the fish.

Grip Fish Carefully
Try to hold the fish gently without squeezing. Avoid placing you hand over the fish’s mouth and gills. Hold larger fish at the base of the tail and support the body close to the pelvic fins. Consider keeping very large fish in the water.

Photograph Wet Fish
This shows fish in their element which can make cool photos. Try to keep air exposure to ten seconds or less.

Only Revive Fish That Cannot Swim
If a fish can swim away on its own, let it do so. It will recover better. If the fish appears to have lost its equilibrium, submerge it and face it into the current. If you are in still water, move the gently to simulate swimming. See the website for other techniques specific to other fish like tuna.

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November River Cleanup Days

by Bob Garbarino

Hi SCFF club members,

There are three river cleanup days scheduled in November. This is a great way to provide community service in a hands-on fashion. Volunteering for these events could be an opportunity for those members with children needing community service credits for school.

Soquel Creek

Soquel Creek Cleanup

San Lorenzo River

San Lorenzo River Cleanup

Salinas River

Volunteer for Salinas River Cleanup, Sunday November 21st.

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Conservation Shift, Welcome Robert ‘Bob’ Garbarino

by Conservation Slim

Board members sometimes get bored with the same job year after year and realize it’s time to change course which is what happened at our board meeting Wednesday night Sept. 15, as is tradition every Sept we look for someone to replace us which does not happen very often but when it does, a new energy brings freshness to the group.

First of all, our official CastMaster Mark Traugott is stepping down as the active club instructor while instead working with 3 or 4 fishermen at a time on the river and not part of any crowd. I will be stepping down as the Conservation Chair and into Marks waders where I feel more comfortable and enjoy offering a regular monthly or bi monthly casting clinic at Jade St Park for the time being.  Sam Bishop who has been the leader of the ‘before meetings’ casting clinic (Now Covid Closed). Between Sam and I, we can help a larger group and with such an experienced membership, we have specialists who can do presentations on spey or switch rods and advanced techniques I have yet to learn.

I want to welcome Bob Garbarino as our new Conservation Chairman, who I first met on a volunteer mission to save fingerling steelhead trout from a rapidly drying up local stream (over 100 fish that day). I asked Bob to help me out sometimes and submit articles for the newsletter which he did and now after a few fishing trips together, I asked him if he could help us/me out.  Hooray!  This is my last post as California Slim.  My last duty I performed was to slash our annual contributions to charitable organizations we all agreed could survive without our $100-$300 donation. (Savings $1900.) Local organizations were funded as usual or cut in half.    Thank you all and watch your GoogleGroup email for the next casting clinic and reminders for the fish outs at the ForeBay. Oct 7-9 and Nov 4-7 2021.

Peace, Stosh

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CalTrout News – California Budget, Water and Fish

by Conservation Contributor Bob Garbarino

CalTrout—one of the organizations that our club supports—reported that the California Legislature has released the final budget language. CalTrout has been actively engaged in the budget process to advocate for the many factors that influence healthy wild fish. In the budget is funding for addressing conservation issues such as:

$105 million to support fish passage and wildlife corridor projects.
$33 million for fisheries and wildlife support.
$323 million to fund water and drought programs.
And notably, $12.5 million for the removal of dams to preserve the federally endangered southern steelhead trout.

Thank you club members for your support that is used to fund groups like CalTrout. For more details, click on the web link.