Increased numbers of winter steelhead are showing on the lower American River, as evidenced by the trapping of 76 adult American River steelhead at Nimbus Fish Hatchery so far this season.
More fish are expected to come up with the high flows. The Bureau of Reclamation increased releases to the American River below Nimbus Dam to 15,000 cfs on January 5, to 30,000 cfs on January 7 and then to 40,000 cfs on January 9 to accommodate run-off from the latest big storms.
“We trapped 33 adults and one juvenile last week and 35 adults and one juvenile yesterday,” said Gary Novak, hatchery manager. “Most of the fish are four-year old Eel River strain fish in the 8 to 12 lb. range.”
In addition, the hatchery has counted around 200 steelhead from other Central Valley systems, mostly 2 pounders that came in with the high water. All of these fish, like the Eel River strain fish, are released back into the river.
The hatchery has taken less than 60,000 eggs so far. The facility is only spawning the Nimbus strain (Eel River strain) fish. “We’re getting our fish slowly but surely,” Novak noted.
The hatchery has also taken 93 Coleman Fish Hatchery-strain steelhead that are part of a study.
Steelhead fishing has been very slow in the upper river since the opener. Rodney Fagundes of Sacramento reported no steelhead caught by him or Cameron Beck, fishing guide, on the opener below the hatchery.
Likewise, Jerry Lampkin of TNG Motor Sports Guide Service reported hooking zero fish also, although he saw five fish hooked while fishing from his drift boat below Sailor Bar.