SteeheadFryHow many steelhead can you fit into a given watershed? Put another way, what is the carrying capacity of a given watershed for steelhead? This question, and its answer, are important for steelhead fishery managers, and anglers, as we collectively try to rebuild wild fish runs up and down the West Coast.

Nothing in steelheading is constant. The intricacies of rivers change daily along with the chosen lies of steelhead. While this can drive anglers mad it is also part of what keeps us coming back. But changes in steelhead angling over the past few decades have contributed to declines in the quality of many of our steelhead fisheries. The popularity of steelhead fishing has increased concurrent with a reduction both in wild steelhead populations and places to fish for them. Simply put, there are now more people crowded into fewer places and fewer fish to go around. See Wild Steelheader

BristolBay2Pebble mine threatens one of the world's last great salmon fisheries. North America's salmon powerhouse, Bristol Bay, Alaska, is threatened by the massive proposed gold and copper mine. Working closely with commercial fishermen, tribes, sportsmen and women, local businesses and many others across the country Trout Unlimited works to protect these iconic and productive rivers and the people they support.

Progress has been made in prior years but the Pebble Mine is filing for permits. Review the current activity and take action now.

YellowCreekHandpicking places for protection is becoming the conservation norm. As mass extinctions and climate flux confront ecosystems with the most unpredictable challenges the natural world has seen in millennia, scientists and land managers are discarding their efforts to resist all change. Cindy Noble, chair of Trout Unlimited’s Feather River Chapter reports “We don’t want to dump a bunch of time and money into a problem we can never fix, We are not going to do this the stupid way.”

Assessing where fish seem to be thriving, and where threats are most prevalent, will allow scientists to prioritize their efforts to protect and restore aquatic habitat in the upper Feather River region. The project is part of Trout Unlimited’s mission to sustain California’s cold-water fisheries. Read the full story to understand the work.

BDASquawCreekBeaver Dam Analogs, BDAs, have become popular in meadow restoration. Our chapter has worked with them in Audrain Meadow. Simultaneously they have contributed to a significant restoration in Squaw Valley.

Trout Unlimited believes that conservation work begins with people. This belief was affirmed again when over 75 volunteers gathered recently to renew one of the Lake Tahoe region’s most popular places—Squaw Valley—and begin the process of restoring its namesake stream to a more natural state. Squaw Creek is that stream. Once home to native Lahontan cutthroat trout, it is now the focus of a partnership-driven restoration project with TU at its heart. Read full story

Sandy River circa 1980 0
Ten years ago, on a river revered for its huge wild steelhead, more than a ton of dynamite reduced a 47-foot high dam to rubble.  At the time, it was the largest dam ever removed in the United States. It was also the first dam to be removed without first removing entrained silt. The operation was a success in removing the silt within a few days and long term return of steelhead.

As with subsequent dam removal projects on rivers such as the Penobscot, Elwha and Carmel, it didn’t take long for migratory fishes such as salmon and steelhead to begin moving into the upper reaches of the Sandy River, habitat they hadn’t reached for more than a century.

But would taking out the dam lead to a real boost in anadromous fish numbers in the system? This October, in a 10-year retrospective, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife looked at the numbers and offered the answer: an “unqualified yes.” The action was also revealing in that all of the silt was removed in days with the river returning to normalcy.

Read the full story.

IMG 1103 800x600Four members of Trout Unlimited El Dorado joined with other groups to assist in restoration work on the Audrain Meadow. The work was done on August 29 and 30 in support of owner Dale Pierce. Beaver dam analogs, bda, created last year were repaired and extended to further water  retention in the meadow. 

Dams installed last year survived the severe winter and seasonal runoff with minimum damage. Dams were reported to be over topped with water during the spring. They were effective in retaining water in the meadow and sustained minimal damage.

The meadow appears very healthful after this winter. Grass has grown taller and more dense and filled many of the open channels seen last year. Vegetative growth and downfall is plentiful this year.

The project will continue to retain water in the meadow and correct the down cutting experienced in the last 60 years. Replacement of a culvert under the access road is a major item of future work.

Jann Williams, John Sikora,  Bill Burden, Pat Barron and Stan Backlund participated in the work.

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EelSalmonUnderwater

The Eel River is on the brink of disaster, its ocean-going fish species threatened with extinction, its nurturing estuary diked, drained and diminishing.

At the same time, this massive watershed in California’s northwest corner offers the state’s best hope of ensuring a future abundance of wild anadromous fish.

This paradox of the Eel, California’s third largest river system, is driving an urgency to save it while there’s still time. For the Eel’s diverse and often adversarial stakeholders, this is a rare and fleeting opportunity to set aside differences out of a common commitment to what they share.

 More

salmonA University of California and CaliforniaTrout study last month indicated that some species of salmon are in danger of going extinct by the end of this century. Their persistence in modern California is practically miraculous, given the profound alteration of rivers and streams.

To ensure these fish endure, with the added dimension of a changing climate, we must take strong steps. Salmon need help in the stream gravel where they hatch, the pools and floodplains where they grow, the Delta channels that carry them to the ocean, and the rivers they power up in order to spawn and die in the same gravel from which they emerged.

More

PajaroFishRescue

In 2006, the Pajaro River on California’s central coast came out of obscurity to make national headlines—for the wrong reason: it was named the most endangered river in America.

Historically, the Pajaro was one of the most productive steelhead streams in this region. Old-timers in Watsonville and other local communities recall chromers stacked like cordwood in the holding water as they came in after winter storms blew open the sandbars at the river mouths.

But water diversions, widespread habitat loss and degradation, and drought reduced this river’s once robust run of wild steelhead to a shadow of its former self.

Local fish advocates, led by the indefatigable Herman Garcia and his group Coastal Habitat Education and Environmental Restoration (CHEER), sprang into action. By 2006, Garcia and CHEER already had been working for a decade to keep the Pajaro’s dwindling steelhead run alive, through fish rescues and work with landowners to restore aquatic and riparian habitat. Read the Full Story

Kamchatka
Yeti Presents: Kamchatka Steelhead Project is a film from Felt Soul Media and Yeti Coolers about what happens when you enlist fly-fishermen to help on a scientific quest to study and preserve one of the world's last great steelhead populations. As Grayson Schaffer reported in the August Issue of Outside, the Kamchatka Steelhead Project is a U.S.-Russia partnership that monitors the steelhead population through catch and release fishing, and over its lifetime has produced an incredible body of research on the fish in their native habitat. Watch to get a sense of why the area and the fish are so special, and worth saving. View the Film

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