Our El Dorado chapter of Trout Unlimited held its November 16 meeting to report on the Survey of Caples Creek conducted by the TU Inland Trout Project personnel located in Truckee, CA. The survey was completed at the end of July and comprised six people over three days. Lauren Herbine, Restoration Scientist, and Dan Johnson presented and discussed the material. Documentation had been provided previously via a Google Earth project which provided location, pictures and text of observations. Fifty log jams were noted, ten pools were fished, seven passage barriers were found and twenty-seven potential sediment sources were described.
Lauren and Dan stated that the terrain proved tough, but the landscape was beautiful!
Their broad impressions were that Caples presents as a healthy, dynamic river responding well to recent wildfires. There were very few places that any sediment input looked dramatic, and for the most part were very happy with the amount of sediment and structure found in the creek. Log jams provided fantastic fish habitat and in some cases were even pushing water out into older oxbows. Sediment deposition took place in pocket floodplains where a healthy riparian buffer is forming. They saw or caught many trout around log jams. The lower part of the reach was exclusively Rainbow trout and the upper 1/3 contained Brook trout. No Brown trout were caught or observed. Fish were found in all sections although numbers and sizes were small.
The team has no recommendations for further study or restoration action. They believe that nature will continue to improve the biological conditions and hence the fish populations. The biologists present concurred in this belief. Some type of monitoring should be established to periodically review the conditions and fish population. Our chapter can develop a monitoring plan in the coming year. The El Dorado Irrigation District performs an electro shock survey for rainbow trout every fifth and sixth year at the Kirkwood meadow. this is useful data but limited in the broad scope of the creek.