Historic records reveal abundant numbers of steelhead once migrated from the Pacific Ocean to Southern California's coastal waterways in search of spawning grounds. The presence of steelhead in southern California is memorialized in places like Steelhead Park, which sits along the the Los Angeles River near Dodger Stadium. In the early 1900s, anglers visited this park in hopes of filling their creel with the formidable fish.
Images from the early twentieth century also portray successful steelhead fishing in Orange County at San Juan Creek, and in San Diego County in lower San Mateo Creek and lower Santa Margarita River.
Today, steelhead are nearly non-existent in Southern California - a strikingly different picture than the one painted by historic accounts. See The Story of Recovery.
Recovery of this magnitude requires patience, diligence and optimism, and, luckily for the steelhead, Capelli and Winchell, and a host of scientists, anglers, tribes and agencies have united under the banner of the South Coast Steelhead Coalition to help the species.
The Fisheries Service's 2012 Southern California Steelhead Recovery Plan is foundational to the coalition's strategy. It provides a description of the species biology, a watershed-by watershed habitat assessment of threats to the species, and a set of recovery actions to address these threats.
Capelli, the main author of the Recovery Plan, says it also sets forth a strategy for monitoring the status of the steelhead and the recovery actions, as well as a research program to increase the understanding of the species’ ecology in southern California.