Tag: Arroyo Seco Foundation

Dry year doesn’t stop another Trout Scout

Screen Shot 2018-04-29 at 5.46.57 PMBy Tim Brick
Managing Director
Arroyo Seco Foundation

Friends:

It’s time to head to the upper watershed in search of native trout. It has been another disappointingly dry year, but there is water in the stream, and some chance of spotting native fish. The flow in the upper Arroyo stream is now about 2 cubic feet per second, compared to the historic average of 5-6 cfs for this time of year, but 2 cfs is better than it’s been for a while.

WHERE TO LOOK: The most likely place to find native trout would be in the pools up around Switzer’s Falls and in nearby Bear Canyon, but trout sometimes go as far as the mouth of the Arroyo near Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (Btw, the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association has been doing monthly trail restoration work in the stretch of the Gabrielino Trail between Oakwilde and Switzer’s Camp.)

Screen Shot 2018-04-29 at 5.47.22 PM

No one that I know of has claimed to see any native trout since the Station Fire nine years ago. I recently went with Wendy Katagi of Stillwater Sciences to visit the Riverside Corona Resource Conservation District, which has an excellent native fish program. They are willing to help us restore native fish in the Arroyo Seco, but first we need to document their current status, so we need your help now.

Take a hike! It’s always enjoyable in the upper Arroyo, particularly this time of year. Let me know what you find, and thanks for caring!

Hi Tim
So does it have to be below Switzerland Falls or above or anything in that drainage?

Anything in the watershed would be great, Mark.

Arroyo Seco Foundation receives $50,000 for trout study

The first book published by Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach details the struggles of the endangered Southern California Steelhead. (Courtesy Aquarium of the Pacific)

The Arroyo Seco Foundation has received a $50,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to determine the best stream conditions for introducing trout, according to the Pasadena Star-News. 

Tim Brick, the foundation’s managing director, adds:

“We’re still look for trout, but the stream is below 1 cubic feet per second again. We need to identify the pools and resting spots where the trout are hiding. Probably Bear Canyon is the most likely spot. Anyone care to go on a trout scout adventure?”

His email is tim@arroyoseco.org.

Finally, to get a taste of what fishing used to be like here, I’m rerunning my 2014 review of historian Tom Tomlinson’s excellent book, ““Against the Currents: The Unlikely Story of the Southern California Steelhead” below.

***

If you think you’ve finished your summer reading list, stop! Consider one more book, please.

“Against the Current, The Unlikely Story of the Southern California Steelhead” could not, in truth, be a more unlikely tale. Author Tom Tomlinson takes the reader on an environmental roller coaster ride that matches our region’s boom-or-bust water supply, and throws in plenty of human Greek drama.

Beautiful color on this trout, which was released, unharmed, back to the water. (Jim Burns)

What just over a 100 years ago was a region so pristine that Easterners came here to mend their health, through hunting, fishing and soaking up the sunshine, quickly turned into what we have today. As someone who has lived here for over 30 years with no plans of leaving, I’m not complaining, but when you read this book and realize what it once was — especially if you enjoy fly fishing the San Gabes — well, get our your handkerchief.

Sob.

One fact to prime the tears: In the early 1900s, the then-equivalent of the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife set the limit of fish taken at … 100. If you’ve ever put boots to dirt and fly to water in our mountains, this should give you a chill. Guests at the local fishing camps regularly hauled in lots of rainbows, and, yes, steelhead. And they hauled, and they hauled and they hauled. Think buffalo in the plains states.

How we got from those abundant fishy beginnings to where we are today is a story of good intentions gone to greed, it’s about that simple.

As for the steelhead once again taking center stage as we enter the Great Los Angeles River Rebuilding, well, this magnificent creature needs our help to get off the endangered species list.

When Congress approves the billion bucks for a river makeover early next year (Update: As of this writing three years later, the federal money hasn’t arrived), I hope every politician, every engineer and every investor gets a copy of this book. They should look up the section on one Henry O’Melveny, lawyer, fishing advocate, Creel Club founder, ice plant owner and, sadly, leader of the pack that done the natural inhabitants of our erratic rivers and streams in. Indeed, he is a figure as defining of Greek tragedy as Oedipus or Agamemnon.

Fast forward to today, and a mayor who is bringing in major bucks from Washington for the river as well as public transportation. I hope that Mayor Eric Garcetti reads this slim volume. It is the most compelling work to date on why the natural habitat can’t take a backseat to our own urban comfort zone. That story already happened.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Calendar Item: Find out the latest ‘trout scout’ news on Wednesday

steelhead
(Courtesy Arroyo Seco Foundation)

Update: The Arroyo Seco Foundation has recently received a $50,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to determine the best stream conditions for introducing trout, according to the Pasadena Star-News . 

Tim Brick, the foundation’s managing director, adds:

“We’re still look for trout, but the stream is below 1 cubic feet per second again. We need to identify the pools and resting spots where the trout are hiding. Probably Bear Canyon is the most likely spot. Anyone care to go on a trout scout adventure?”

His email is tim@arroyoseco.org.

Finally, to get a taste of what fishing used to be like here, check out historian Tom Tomlinson’s excellent book, ““Against the Currents: The Unlikely Story of the Southern California Steelhead.”

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Did the trout survive the drought?
What is the history of fish in the Arroyo?
What is the potential for native fish restoration?
What is the current restoration program?
Fish or Concrete — What’s the Future?

Wednesday, July 12, 7 p.m.

Donald Wright Auditorium
Pasadena Central Library, 285 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

Company volunteers for Native Trout Restoration Project

ASF_FEDBy John Goraj

Guest Contributor

Hey Everyone,

I just wanted to touch base with you all and give you a quick update about what’s been going on the Native Trout Restoration Project.
Last week, we had a large event with the FedEx Cares volunteers, 48 people total doing a stream survey/invasive species mapping in the Gould Mesa and in Switzer Falls areas. We measured stream depth, stream temperature and measured invasive plant patches, in addition to doing habitat assessments.
It was a great success and I couldn’t help thinking of all of you and how great it would be if we all could accomplish something like this together?
So, anyway, I’m going to work on that and I will let you know some dates.
Below is some of the data we collected with the FedEx Cares group.
I encourage you all to go up to Arroyo Seco and look for trout in the meantime – there are several big pools in the Switzer Falls and Bear Canyon areas.
Thank you all for your time and commitment to conservation!
John Goraj is the Native Trout Program Manager  at the Arroyo Seco Foundation.

Second ‘Trout Scout’ update: Gabrielino Trail to Gould Mesa

NICE SECTION of the Arroyo near Gould Mesa with large in stream boulders that create pools. (Courtesy John Goraj)

By John Goraj

Guest Contributor

Myself, along with three other volunteers, began the scout at the Altadena Crest Trailhead in Altadena. We hiked for about two and a half miles on the Gabrieleno Trail along the Arroyo Seco to Gould Mesa Trail Camp, eventually turning around somewhere between Gould Mesa and Paul Little Picnic Area. The Arroyo is beautiful right now and as always, a very thriving ecosystem. We saw several California newts, who are mating right now and mountain yellow-legged frogs.

We stopped several times along the way making several notes about trout habitat and riverine conditions. We saw several things that made me confident of the existence of rainbow trout in the Arroyo. Here are some of the major habitat features that we discovered in several key habitat categories.

This central section of the stream currently possesses all of the necessary habitat requirements needed for native southern California trout to thrive; cool and clear water, stable undercut banks, clean gravel beds with little to no silt, overhanging vegetation, structural/habitat diversity and the food that trout eat.

‘TROUT SCOUT’ volunteers from left, Ren Vokes, Ryan Anglin and Roland Trevino. (Courtesy John Goraj)

The stream is flowing well about 5-10 cfs and the water temperature is cool. The banks along this section of the stream are undercut creating sufficient pool depth for trout to live in during the drier summer months.

Additionally, the roots of white alder trees which grow abundantly along the stream provide strong support along the banks. The gravel beds are clean and soft creating high quality habitat for trout to possibly spawn in the future. Canopy cover above the stream (overhanging vegetation) was almost always 50-to-75 percent, which keeps dissolved oxygen adequately high for native trout to thrive.

Lastly, many of the key components of trout dietary needs were present as well. These include terrestrial insects, spiders, midges, dragonflies and water boatman bugs.

Perhaps the most promising feature was the discovery of several two-to-four-foot-deep pools created by in-stream structural diversity, such as boulders and large woody debris. These pools are essential for trout survival and illustrate the important function that downed logs and boulders play in providing high quality for trout.

I will keep you all updated on the next “Trout Scout” and any possible trout sightings!

John Goraj is the Native Trout Program Manager  at the Arroyo Seco Foundation.

 

“Trout Scout’ finds water, critical habitat conditions, in Arroyo Seco

By John Goraj
Guest Contributor

Hello all:

I wanted to give you a quick update on the initial “trout scout” that Arroyo Seco Foundation and volunteers did last week at Switzer’s Falls on Feb. 11. Please keep in mind that this first trip was not meant to be a technical, scientific survey, but rather to get a general idea of the habitat conditions for native trout and stream ecology/hydrology at the moment. But, the next few trips will become more technical as time goes on, employing GIS, DNA extraction and using snorkeling and wetsuit gear to look for trout.

arroyo
One of several 3-4 foot deep pools we saw as we made our way through the canyon. (Courtesy John Goraj)

We walked about two miles down the trail, stopping several times along the way to survey conditions and look for evidence of life. One thing is for certain — the Arroyo Seco has not flowed this turbulently in several years! I would guess that the streamflow was close to 50-75 cubic feet per second. It was so wonderful to see. We had to jump over the stream on rocks and downed logs several times along the way. There were several three-to-four-foot-deep pools as we made our way through the canyon. Many of these pools possessed some critical habitat features needed for rainbow trout: clean gravel beds; in-stream woody debris and boulders that create additional pools, turbulent, cool water and overhanging vegetation creating cover. Additionally, the strong root systems of white alder and cottonwood trees that line the stream have established solid banks, which is another key component of healthy mountain streams needed to sustain trout species.

Although we did not see any fish this time, the most salient observation I can make right now is that I do believe some trout are living up there. All or most of the necessary habitat conditions are present and I think it’s only a matter of time before we see some fish.

The next survey will focus on going deeper into the Bear Canyon area. I have heard from several anglers that they have seen trout up here prior to the 2009 Station Fire. The combined effects of the fire and the recent five-year drought had made seeing trout in this area improbable. But I don’t think this is case anymore. The Switzer Falls/Bear Canyon area is recovering quickly and now with all the rain and snowmelt, conditions have changed for the better.

Thank you for your interest as always and feel free to email me with any questions or comments at: john@arroyoseco.org.