Sterile trout being planted in state waters

Fishing report: Many rivers and lakes are in great shape, and fishing is good
By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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The Department of Fish and Wildlife has had numerous lawsuits filed against it over the years challenging the policy of its trout-planting program.

The focal point of most suits is that the planted trout are a direct threat to the purity strains of natural trout, should the two interbreed.

Many years ago, when I was handed my first fishing rod, lakes and streams weren’t planted with hatchery trout, as they are today.

Today, quantities of hatchery born and raised trout are set loose in lakes, reservoirs and streams from the valley floor to high-elevation regions. The DFW, of course, has an agenda for its planting program. It’s called money.

If every angler in today’s world were to go fishing and the waters were never planted with hatchery trout, disappointment would reign supreme to the point of “rejected effort.” That’s a term for doing something over and over and never being rewarded.

So, the DFW over the years has built massive hatcheries throughout the state for one purpose: to provide catchable trout for the anglers. That means anglers will continue to go fishing, and the DFW will be rewarded because anglers are required to purchase a fishing license that in great part funds the hatcheries.

But, environmentalist groups also recognize that planting hatchery trout will water down the natural population through interbreeding to the point where it no longer would exist. That has happened in numerous waterways in California already.

So, how does the DFW still provide opportunities for the recreational public, where they can go fishing with the expectation of catching a fish while not diluting the natural trout population?

That’s easy. It plants sterile fish in those same waters.

A sterile trout is called a triploid. They aren’t born sterile. Hatchery staff has to take measures for that to happen.

Unknown to most people, including the angling public, new legislation went into effect on Jan. 1 that requires the DFW to sterilize most fish planted for recreational purposes.

The intricate mechanics of how the process is completed is a totally scientific one, but it has to do with carefully applied pressure during fertilization that simply encourages the retention of an extra set of chromosomes that normally are in the egg but later discarded. When that extra set of chromosomes is retained, you have a triploid.

Even private hatcheries, such as the Mount Lassen Trout Hatchery near Red Bluff, has provided triploids through its private plants. The nearest lake that commonly receives their plants is Lake Camanche.

Triploid trout tend to grow much larger, quicker. What they eat goes toward growth, not for the energy it takes to reproduce. Additionally, they tend to be vivacious when you bury the hook in them.

If you catch a triploid, you’ll never know the difference between it and a fertile fish, called a diploid. There is no chemical change in the fish, as no chemicals were involved in their sterilization, so they are totally safe for consumption.


Current fishing


American River: The river couldn’t be in better shape for steelhead fishing. The crack of dawn and late afternoons will be the prime time for rod-bending action. The section of river above Sunrise is going to hold the majority of fish, but you can get into decent action downriver. I’ve done well off the gravel bars at Watt Avenue, where you can drift bait or bottom fish with bait on a sliding sinker. Just about anything that looks like a steelhead’s favorite grub — salmon eggs — will attract a bite if you bump them on the nose with it.

Suisun Bay: With the weather pattern the north state has been under for some time now, the sturgeon and striped bass fishery is wide open in the bay. Launch at Martinez, and it’s a quick run under the bridge to the famed Mothball Fleet. Fishing for sturgeon and stripers has been excellent. Go a little further, into the mouth of Montezuma Slough or Honker Bay, and in the shallow waters you could hook into a flurry bite of starry flounder. The usual shrimp baits, eel and roe are attracting sturgeon and stripers. Pile worms are mainly accounting for the flounder.

Lake Amador: Trout plants continue, and the bite has been good. When you can have the opportunity to nail a trout weighing more than six pounds, you can have quite a haul up the bank. One angler had one more than 10 pounds. Cast-retrieving a variety of lures has been getting hits and picking up the big fish. Suspend bait so it doesn’t go too deep.

Folsom Lake: Trout fishing is good. There’s also a wayward, occasional king salmon grabbing a trolled lure. Small Rapalas or a Speedy Shiner have shown success, but change lures until you find the one they prefer that day. It changes daily. Bass are being found around rock piles and off points. Drop-shotting plastics should get you bit.

Camp Far West: The lake is slowly clearing, and even groups are holding tourneys now. It’s mostly small fish taking the baits, but worms and jigs are working. The good thing is the lake is close by and has easy access with good launching.

Rollins Lake: The lake may be full, but it’s too murky for any decent fishing. Anglers are trying, but they’re seeing little success with most coming back having enjoyed a simple boat ride.

Collins Lake: The lake is full, and the fishing is good. Most anglers get fish on the stringer, and there’s the here-and-there limit. Power Bait off a sliding sinker will be your best bet. Fish in either the open area or head toward the dam region.

Contact George deVilbiss at