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Trout Season Opening Day: Non-Profit Group CalTrout Bolsters Healthy Fish Populations

CalTrout’s work in the Shasta and Sierra regions supports native trout populations

Mt. Shasta and Mammoth Lakes, Calif. – Trout Fishing Season will open this Saturday, April 28th across California, and anglers have good reason to expect tight lines. Their stream-side success will be thanks, in part, to the work of California Trout. A non-profit restoration, research and advocacy organization, CalTrout runs projects throughout the state that support native salmon, steelhead and trout populations. Two current efforts that are helping trout populations are a conservation, recreation, and cultural resource protection program on Hat Creek, in Shasta County, and a research and restoration program in high Sierra meadows, which benefits Kern River rainbow trout.

“As a native Californian and an avid fisherman, I am excited about the recent progress CalTrout has been making in restoring native trout habitat,” said CalTrout’s Executive Director, Curtis Knight. “We have an amazing diversity of inland native trout, and it’s our job to watch over these imperiled fish.”

Cal Trout was founded in 1971 by a passionate group of anglers who were concerned about deteriorating fishing conditions throughout the state. They had a simple mission: to protect and restore wild trout and steelhead waters throughout California.

This mission started on Hat Creek, where decades of habitat degradation, invasive species and overfishing had decimated the Hat Creek Wild Trout Area. The idea of managing trout on a natural basis was proven out and the catch and release ethic was established here. Hat Creek is one of California’s largest and most productive spring-fed native trout fisheries. In partnership with the Illmawi Band of the Pit River Tribe, CalTrout is working to restore in-stream and riparian habitat, improve recreational trails and accessibility, provide workforce training and jobs to tribe members, and improve the health of wild trout populations in Hat Creek. More information can be found on CalTrout’s Hat Creek Restoration web page.

Farther south, headwater meadows throughout the Sierra Nevada have been desiccated by long-running drought conditions and poor land management, reducing the availability of cold water during summer months and elevating stream temperatures to levels that are harmful to trout populations. Osa Meadows, for example, in the Sequoia National Forest, is historic Kern River rainbow trout habitat. In 2016, however, these headwaters dried up half way through the meadow. The year before, it was bone dry.

CalTrout and partners have been working on high-altitude meadow restoration on the Kern Plateau since 2012. In the fall and winter of 2016, CalTrout sent tractors into Osa Meadow to do substantial restoration to the floodplain and stream channels. Encouragingly, in 2017, young rainbows were already thriving again. CalTrout and partners in the Sierra Meadows Partnership aim to restore 30,000 acres of Sierra meadows by 2030, specifically boosting water storage capacity, restoring critical habitats, and bolstering resiliency to climate change. In addition to fostering healthy trout populations, functioning high-altitude meadows contribute greatly to water security for the millions of Californians living downstream. Details about this and related projects can be found on CalTrout’s Sierra Headwater Meadows web page.

For more information about these and other projects that CalTrout is working on, see


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