Since our founding in 1965, Flycasters has always had very active fishery conservation activities.   We have successfully managed and funded a number significant local fisheries restoration projects.  Working though the Northern California Council of the Federation of Fly fishers (NCCFFF). we have projected our voice to statewide and national issues of concern for all species of fish and all classes of waters.  By providing our membership the vehicle to work their way up through the ranks of the FFF, Flycasters have assumed FFF committee, directorship, and officer positions that have resulted in our participation in the available broad coalitions with all the others fishery conservation groups in areas such as:  Bay-Delta IssuesState Water Resources, HydropowerGolden Trout Restoration, and more.


Marty Seldon conferring the Aldo Starker Leopold Wild Trout Medal to Tom Pero of Wild River Press.

Flycasters, Inc of San Jose Conservation Co-chairman Chuck Hammerstad and prior Conservation Chairman Mike Brinkley joined Marty Seldon at the Wild Trout Symposium held September 27th to 30th in West Yellowstone, Montana. Marty was M.C. of the Awards Luncheon and has been on the Symposium Organizing Committee since 1979 in various positions. Of the some 43 papers and 30 posters, FFF Conservation Committee Chairman Rick Williams presented a paper on the restoration of a sustainable cutthroat fishery on a private ranch.

Roger Bloom head of California's wild trout program presented on the landing efficiency of barbed vs. barbless hooks. There was also a lot of emphasis on climate change. Over 200 fishing conservationists and fishery professionals joined together to not only get the latest in fishery status and restoration techniques but to network in an informal atmosphere that would otherwise not be possible.

At the Symposium Post Mortem Meeting on September 30th, Mike Brinkley former club conservation chairman, and former Director, and Treasurer of the Northern California Council Federation of Fly Fishers was elected as Wild Trout Symposium Treasurer. Mike recently retired as a senior scientist with Thermo Scientific/Duke Scientific Industries and now lives in Eugene, Oregon. The next Wild Trout Symposium is being planned for 2013.

More information:


Striped Bass – One of California’s Iconic Game fish

Can We Save Them?


Striped Bass has been one of the mainstays of central California sport fishing for at least the past 100 years.  In the San Francisco bay area there are many dedicated charter boats that focus most of their year on taking the public out to fish for them in the bays and under the Golden Gate.  In the Delta and tributary rivers there are many guides that spend a significant part of their season fishing for stripers.  Thousands of recreational fishers target them many months of the year from the Monterey Bay to the beaches of Marin County, the shoreline of San Francisco bay, as well as throughout the Delta and its estuary.  Stripers are likely the second most prized game fish in California behind only trout.  They are a focus for many fly fishers, and they are an important part of the fishing fabric of California.


Stripers are currently the target of many in this state for purposeful extinction.  The battle for water continues to heat up, and the past three years of drought made us all realize how far water users will go to obtain water.  Stripers have been identified as predators of ESA listed fish species – salmon, steelhead, delta Smelt.  This is no surprise to any of us.  That said, we all know they have lived in balance with all these species for more than 100 years, but the dire condition of these listed species is driving our public fish agencies to take extreme actions, and reducing predation is one of them.  We have our work cut out for us with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish and Game Commission to counter requests to take them off the game fish list, and eliminate any management regulations.


The single most pressing challenge to Striped Bass is the current lawsuit, “Coalition for a Sustainable Delta, et all vs. John McCammans (DFG Director), et all.  It is the lawsuit that the NCCFFF has joined as defendant interveners, along with CSBA, CSPA and Striperfest (though not listed as interveners).  This is literally, “ The fight for the life of striped bass in California.”  It is not important to understand all the claims here, but to know that the goal is to focus attention on other causes of fishery declines rather than diversions of water from the Delta.  Coalition for a Sustainable Delta is an organization formed by big water users in the southern San Joaquin valley, and who have an interest in diverted water for agricultural use as well as other needs. 


NCCFFF is committed to supporting this suit any way we can, and for a victorious outcome that protects the striped bass fishery well into the future.  We have prevailed in the summary judgment request from the Plaintiffs, but it has come at a cost.  The next step in the legal process will be taking this suit to trial, with associated costs for providing a defense a challenge to the groups and individuals involved.


  It is time for the fishing community to rally around striped bass, and pull together for their benefit.


Striperfest, CSBA and NCCFFF will continue working together to develop funding strategies for the case with appeals to their chapters, clubs and special angler events.  It is going to take all of us working together and contributing time, money and effort if we are to save the striped bass fishery as we know it.  That is why the NCCFFF Council is asking for your continued support in the form of individual contributions, as well as support from your associated clubs.



Up coming angler events where you can show your support:

NCCFFF Placerville Fly Fishing Festival, October 2nd, Sportsman’s Outdoor Expo, 

Striperfest on November 6th, Facilities at Sugar Barge Marina,

Striperfest details to be listed at:

More information from the author NCCFFF V.P. Dr. Mark Rockwell D.C.  

Mark Rockwell, VP Conservation, NCCFFF

September 4, 2010 -- All anglers, not just fly fishers, take a moment and read Mike McKenzie's e-mail below to members of the Striperfest board.  We need your help now to encourage Director McCammons to support striped bass, and direct his agency and the Attorney general's office to not settle the striped bass lawsuit.  We are working with Striperfest and CSBA as defendant interveners on behalf of DFG in this case, but we need the department to be steadfast in their position that striped bass are a game fish, and deserve game fish status in California.  Ask the Director to continue their defense of Striped Bass, and fight the lawsuit initiated by the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta.  The Director's contact info is below.   We need you to call this coming week.  Settlement hearing is on the 16th of September, and the Director needs to hear from us before that!!!  Please send me an e-mail if you call, just so I can track the response.  Thank you! Mark Rockwell, VP Conservation, NCCFFF
Posted by Mike McKenzie on 2010-09-03 13:49:41on Dan's BB

 As most people in this board community know, there has been a lawsuit filed by "The Citizens for a Sustainable Delta" to force the Department of Fish and Game to remove all regulation and control of Striped Bass populations in the San Francisco Bay, the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta and all its tributary rivers. Striperfest has been in the front lines of this battle since the filing of the lawsuit and this Board community has given a lot! Aside from supporting the Striperfest activities we need a little more from you.

The lawyers for Department of Fish and Game are the lead team for the Defendant (DFG). They have been doing Yeoman's work thus far in the lawsuit, however we need the angling community to take the time to write (or e-mail) John McCamman the Director of DFG and "encourage" him to maintain the Department's full support and dedication to winning this thinly veiled attack, by special interests, on our iconic Striped Bass, one of the premier fisheries in California.

Please, each and every one of you that appreciate this Striped Bass fishery, take the time to write the Director and let him know you want to keep our Striped Bass protected.

Here's the contact info:

John McCamman, Director
1416 Ninth Street, 12th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 653-7667
(916) 653-7387 fax

Write, e-mail, Fax...get the message to him and each of you get 10 others to do the same.

 Following is an example letter provided by Captain Dan Blanton.

 September 3, 2010
John McCamman, Director
California Department of Fish and Game
1416 Ninth Street, 12th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Director McCamman,
I write to urge the California Department of Fish and game to continue in earnest, without capitulating to the plaintiffs, defending striped bass in the lawsuit to declassify them as a regulated and protected game fish.  The economic and recreational value of our striped bass is profound as I am sure you are keenly aware.  Many anglers, such as me, make all or a portion of our income guiding anglers on the Bay/Delta system, targeting striped bass. 
The science clearly shows, as well as any “scientific data” can, that striped bass are not responsible for the dramatic decline of salmon, steelhead and various smelt species, native to the Sacramento/San Joaquin river and Delta system.
Again, I urge you, no matter what the cost, to continue the effort to keep our striped bass protected as a game fish.  Please do not give up the fight!

Captain Dan Blanton – Chair – Striperfest
Editor-at-Large - Fly Fishing in Salt Waters Magazine
Editor-at-Large - California Fly Fisher




I’ve always wondered about fish mortality when catch and release is practiced.  I have seen mortality numbers ranging from a few percent to over 40%, and I worry about playing the fish too long.  I’ve also wondered about the effectiveness of barbless hooks.  Do they really help and are they worth the trouble?  I am always forgetting to crimp down the barb before casting the fly. 

I got some interesting information the other evening on these issues as I was reading Robert Behnke’s wonderful collection of articles from Trout Magazine.  Dr. Behnke, in his essay “Putting Them Back Alive” reported on some studies that were carried out  in 1964-65 by aquatic biologist Leo Marnell at Yellowstone Lake as part of his Ph. D. research.  This is perhaps the most comprehensive research ever carried out on hooking mortality of wild trout. 

In this study, many hundreds of Yellowstone cutthroat were caught using various hooks and lure types and then held for 10 or 30 days to document mortality.  Some of the results surprised me.  With all factors constant except hook and lure type, 3 of 75 (4%) of trout died after release from barbed flies, 2 of 60 (3.3%) died after being hooked with barbless flies, 3 of 113 (2.7%) on barbed treble hooks (spoon lures) and 6 of 100 (6%) on barbless treble hooks.  Statistical analysis of this data shows no significant difference between the different hook types; the differences are explained by random chance. 

A significant difference in mortality did occur with fish caught on trolled worms and released.  In this case, out of 161 fish caught, 78 (48%) died after release.  If the trout did not swallow the bait, only 8% died, while 73% died if the bait was swallowed. 

A stress test was also done.  For fish caught on a treble hook, 4 of 100 died after landing quickly, 6 of 100 died after playing for 5 minutes and 5 of 100 died after 10 minutes of playing.  So, again, there was no difference among groups that experienced different levels of exhaustion. 

The cause of mortality was detailed.  Marnell found that of the 33 deaths out of 652 trout caught on artificial flies and lures, 30 were due to the hooks causing bleeding, usually from the gills.  Only 3 deaths were from unknown causes, which might suggest lethal stress. 

Temperature is  a  much more serious concern in mortality of released trout.  A study was carried out in Heenan Lake.  Fish were caught on artificial lures during early June, mid-July and September.  Released fish were held in live boxes for four days to determine mortality.  In June and September (with water temperature ranging from 50-600 F), 1.3% of the fish died.  During the July trial, when water temperature was near 700 F, 48.5% of the fish died.  Interestingly, the highest mortality (55%) occurred with a single barbless hook.  When I was recently fishing the Williamson River, our guide, Marlon Rampy mentioned that trout that are caught in Klamath Lake are usually holding in cold areas near subterranean springs.  When they are hooked and played near the surface in the warm summertime water, their chances of survival are poor due to the stress of the warm water environment. 

This article was very interesting and answered a lot of the questions that I have been asking myself since I took up fly fishing.  I have caught a lot of fish in the past on spoons with treble hooks and always released them.  I am comforted now to know that their survival rate was just as good as the fish I catch now on tiny flies.  Maybe we should review our contempt for “hardware bubbas” with their spoons and nasty looking treble hooks.  As long as they release the fish, it looks like they are doing no more harm than we are. 

Mike Brinkley

Jan 22, 2010

By Jonathan Partridge GIlroy Dispatch


A jury trial will begin Monday for a San Francisco real estate developer who is charged with damming Little Arthur Creek and poaching a threatened species of steelhead trout in 2007.

Luke Brugnara faces four counts of "taking" the trout and two counts of making a false statement in the course of an investigation after he was indicted by a federal grand jury in April 2008. He has pled not guilty to all charges. This is the first federal criminal case in the country charging an individual and corporation with the poaching of steelhead by blocking an upstream habitat. The federal government contends that Brugnara intentionally blocked the flow of Little Arthur Creek, an important watershed for steelhead, for at least three months between January and April 2007. Regulators say that the habitat above the dam is critical to the survival of the South-Central California Coast steelhead, which are found in Little Arthur Creek and are listed as threatened on the federal Endangered Species list.  

The charges against Brugnara come as a result of an investigation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the California Department of Fish and Game.  State and federal investigators said they found numerous trapped adult steelhead downstream of the dam that could not migrate upstream to a suitable spawning habitat. When a rescue team arrived to move the steelhead upstream, investigators said the steelhead were gone and they found evidence of poaching. 

The trial will begin at 9 a.m. Monday at the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California in San Francisco. It is expected to last five to seven days. Judge Maxine M. Chesney will preside over the trial.  

Flycasters, under the leadership of the Conservation Committee built a fishladder on this property many years ago to provide access for steelhead to this upstream watershed many years ago.  A short history of this project summarized by Marty Seldon follows.

Flycasters Little Arthur Creek Fish Ladder

Marty Seldon


After many years of surveying south bay fisheries the FFF and San Jose Flycasters located a high dam on the important Little Arthur Creek tributary of the Pajaro River in Gilroy that predated the 1924 California Water Code. There were no minimum flow requirements and the dam was silted in, completely blocking steelhead migration. Under the leadership of the late great Fred Houwink in the 1980’s we found that the very cooperative ranch owner, Edward Pickells, had attempted to build fishways in the canyon only to have them destroyed twice by flood-stage flows.  Mr. Pickells had a flash board portal in the dam that he opened in winter to flush out accumulated rubbish.


My involvement with the FFF turned me on to the potential of the Alaska Steep-Pass Fish Ladder.  DF&G engineers and biologists visited the site and were also enthusiastic.  Fred and our member-contractor Jerry Hensley used the data, surveyed the site, and then designed a four-section, forty foot long ladder system.  With agency participation and agreement, a formal proposal was later made to the CDF&G for Bosco-Keene funds that resulted in a grant of $31,500 for the project.


Then project was complex with a number of vendors, our contractor, and club volunteer labor.  500 tons of rip-rap rock were purchased and placed in the canyon to form a 40 foot ramp up to the portal of the dam. 10 foot above streambed.  Flycaster’s work teams muscled the rip-rap into a trough for the fishway sections that were fabricated in Gilroy.  Each section had a two-foot wide bottom and side sections with complex interior welded baffle plates.  Dozens of angle-iron straps braced the open top and hundreds of 1/2x1 inch bolts held them all together. The bulldozer and shovel crane used to handle the rip-rap were inadequate to handle the fishway and a 45-ton crane was brought in to lift the fishway and reach out 75 feet to lower it into the rip-rap trough.  A two-foot high concrete weir was built across the end of the ledge with openings for the fishway and a rubbish exhaust port.   The last construction phase of the project pumped 32 cubic yards of concrete to consolidate the rip-rap and tie it all together with reinforcing bars set in holes drilled in the sheer canyon wall.  CDF&G monitored all phases of construction and we passed every inspection with flying colors.


The bottom line is that this very successful project was able to open 15 miles of good steelhead habitat.  Unfortunately, the ranch was later sold and the current landowner, Brugnara, has been less than enthusiastic about even allowing access.  Our original project design included a subsequent modification that would replace the flash board dam with a large gate valve to eliminate the need the remove and replace the large timbers.  We had obtained participation from the Santa Clara County Flood Control and Water District to compete this last phase of the project but have been stymied by the lack of cooperation by the landowner.   We will be following the upcoming trial closely and hope to use this event to reopen the issue of replacing the flashboard dam.




What is the New Zealand Mudsnail?

New Zealand Mudsnails are tiny INVASIVE snails that have now been found in certain creeks in the Santa Monica Mountains area.

They may be small, but don't be fooled! In large numbers, these small snails can completely cover a stream bed and wreak havoc on local stream ecosystems. Introduced from New Zealand to the Western United States in the 1980s, New Zealand Mudsnails have already invaded many Western rivers in California, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming including Yellowstone National Park. They have now been found in three streams in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Local and state agencies and environmental organizations are now enlisting the help of local hikers, horseriders, anglers, and others who use the creek, in preventing the spread of the New Zealand Mudsnail waterways in Southern California.

Photo: D. McKinney, with thanks to

New Zealand Mudsnails on a wading boot. Mud snails hitch hike on gear such as boots, waders, bike tires and even pets. "These mudsnails behave rather differently as snails go... They are almost aggressive in the way they motor around and seek new things. If you are walking around in a stream, these snails are going to be checking out your feet. And if you stand in one place very long, some of them are going to come onboard." - Pete Walker, Colorado Division of Wildlife Senior Fish Pathologist (from McKinney, Dennis. "Destructive Mudsnails Found." The Gazette. 4 Apr. 2005)

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What are invasive species?

In a day and age of global trade and international travel, it is not surprising that plants and animals are also traveling by hitching a ride. Today, you can find Japanese oysters in Ensenada, Mexico, or in your backyard! However, some non-native plants and animals get out of control-when they reproduce very rapidly and crowd out other, native species, they are considered INVASIVE. Every year, 1.3 BILLION dollars are spent in the United States to battle invaders.

In fact, half of all endangered species in the United States are being threatened by invasives who eat them, eat their food, crowd them out, and destroy their natural habitats.

Photo: R. Draheim, with thanks to Center for Lakes and Reservoirs

New Zealand Mudsnails on a small rock, with penny for size comparison. Mudsnails create dense colonies-often 100,000 mudsnails can be found in an area the size of a large kitchen sink. "Where they have been found, they make up a large proportion of the living material that's in the ecosystem. But they are a dead-end, in terms of the food chain. They consume, but can't be consumed. They can out-compete and reduce the number of native aquatic invertebrates that fish and amphibians rely on for food. This reduction in food supply can disrupt the entire food web with drastic consequences." - Marc Abrahamson, Heal the Bay

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What makes the Mudsnail invasive? Why is it a problem?

In some ways, the New Zealand Mud-snail is the perfect invader. Mud-snails reproduce parthenogenetically-that is, by cloning themselves. It only takes a SINGLE snail to produce an invasion. In fact, a single snail can result in a colony of more than 40 million snails in just one year! New Zealand Mud Snails can completely cover a streambed, crowding out the native aquatic insects that provide food for native creek animals, including local endangered species like steelhead, tidewater goby, and the red-legged frog.

Photo: Miwa Tamanaha

Located just 25 miles from downtown Los Angeles, Malibu Creek flows through the Santa Monica Mountains to Malibu Lagoon, offering residents and visitors opportunities for hiking, fishing, bird watching and horseback riding. “These creeks and streams are incredibly sensitive systems. Anything that messes up that balance can have a grave impact. Changes we, as humans, create in the system are not always easy to change back. We should recognize that the more we alter the system, the more difficult it is to turn the clock back.” –Gary Busteed, National Park Service

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That sounds bad. What can I do?

Well, there is good news and bad news. Unfortunately, once a creek or stream has been invaded by mud-snails, the invasion is irreversible. There is no known way to eradicate mud-snails once they have been found in a water body.

The good news is that there is A LOT we can do to prevent mud snail invasions. And the things we do to prevent mud snail invasions will also help protect our local lakes and streams from other kinds of dangerous invaders—other invasive plants and aquatic animals that can also spread from place to place. While mud snails have been found in certain portions of Malibu Creek and Lake Piru, there are many of other places where we do not have mudsnails, and hopefully never will!

Remember, mud snails are tiny. They can be as small as a grain of sand, and only get up to 1/8 of an inch long. As you go from place to place, these tiny hitchhikers can easily attach to your wet boots, clothing, sports gear, pets, horses, and bikes, and spread from one stream to another.

You can help protect our local creeks by NOT SPREADING the New Zealand Mud-snail.

  1. Follow the tips on the left when visiting streams and lakes in your area. Don’t carry mud snails from place to place.

  2. Learn more about mud snails and invasive species. Click here for more resources.

  3. Spread the word! If you have friends and family who visit streams and lakes in your area, tell them about the threat of New Zealand Mudsnails and other invasive species. Encourage them to do the right thing and stop the spread!

  4. Creeks with poor water quality and degraded habitat quality are MOST susceptible to invasions-by mudsnails and other aquatic invasive species. Simple actions-like picking up litter and pet waste-can go a long way towards protecting creeks and streams. Click here to find some easy things you can do to improve water quality in our watershed.

We are fortunate, in an area as highly urbanized as Southern California, to have natural areas with truly beautiful lakes and streams. These places are home to many important native creatures, such as the endangered Southern Steelhead Trout, Arroyo Chub, Western Pond Turtles, Pacific Tree Frog, California Newt, Arboreal Salamander, Western Toad. Let's protect our natural heritage sites! Prevent the spread of New Zealand Mud-snails and other invasive plants and animal

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