San Diego Trout

A Charter Member of the
Southern California Steelhead Recovery Coalition

Hot off the press (below)/Yesterday's Papers (beginning Nov. 2007)

Allen Greenwood swapping his felt fly hat for a beret,
shares his offering to the Coastal Commission
A San Mateo Steelhead--click for larger image

Allen reports:

Yesterday, Bob Stewart, Mike Pottorff and I met with Jeff Lee, the Supervising State Park Ranger at Palomar Mountain State Park Palomar State Park and went over the installation, signage, and care of the net. We then proceeded to the pond parking lot unloaded all our gear and equipment and installed the net. We finished around 4:00 P.M. It looks nice and is not too intrusive to the natural park setting. There is a maintenance component to this installation and I will discuss it Monday night with the hopes that some members will help out.

We are now ready to stock the trout as soon as possible. Then let all the trout fishermen of San Diego have a wonderful mountain trout fishing experience. It is really nice that the club came through as we all should be proud of doing a positive action to protect our native rainbows of Pauma Creek. Thank you and the San Diego Fly Fishers Club for all their help. Also thanks go to DFG and new Regional Manager Ed Pert for giving us permission to accomplish this project.


Allen Greenwood
San Diego Trout

Pictured left, Allen Greenwood, Bob Stewart, and Mike Pottorff (taking the picture) arrived at Doane Pond, on Friday 2/29/08. met with Ranger Lee and proceeded to drive new anchor stakes into the mud bottom At left, view Allen and Bob placing net over support structure; at right, view Allen and Bob securing the net to the supports.

Click on images for larger view

On Wednesday, February 28, County Commissioner/San Diego Trouter Bruce Campbell, photographic witness to Pauma devastation Mark Wagner, and San Diego Trout's Mike Pottorff met with DFG District 5 Regional Manager Ed Pert and Senior Fisheries Biologist Dwayne Maxwell to target "the most achievable goals." Results were:

1.) Continued work on the waterways with the gold plated DNA pedigrees--the Sweetwater drainage and Pauma Creek are to stay on the table, and,

2.) Fiscal and personnel constraints demanded that we limit additional work to three other streams to be chosen out of the list of historical trout waters. They were:

A.) San Ysabel Creek, known to have wild fish until 1974 with all the plantings occurring from the old dirt ranch road crossing at the lower end of the upper meadow downstream to the highway 79 crossing, except for an 1893 California Fish Commission attempt to establish a refugia of Cutthroat (they planted 15,000 Piute cutthroat fingerlings in Santa Ysabel Creek)
B.) The Kitchen Creek drainage, known for its ability to hold and brood fish continuously between drought cycles; and,
C.) Cedar Creek. because of the presence of fish in areas planted by neither the DFG nor San Diego Trout (at least in the last 43 years).

On January 30, San Diego Trout. under the auspices of the California Department of Fish and Game, measured the spillway at Doane Pond to be fitted with a fish screen. This will help block the infection of Pauma Creek from the non-native bluegill, catfish, crayfish, and bullfrogs that inhabit the pond. And, the screen will minimize any genetic pollution that might occur between the trout in the pond and the wild trout in the stream. Those taking part in the outing were Allen Greenwood of San Diego Trout, Gary Strawn of the San Diego Flyfishers, and Michael Pottorff (ret) of the San Diego County Fish and Wildlife Commission. Equipment used was graciously provided by the San Diego Stream Team

San Diego Troutis an ad-hoc consortium of outdoor enthusiasts, scientists, conservationists, and consultants who share the common goal of improving and maintaining San Diego's wild trout fisheries in as many as possible of the 58 historic trout/steelhead streams in San Diego County. Member enthusiasm is a blend of zeal to preserve our heritage as well as to partake of our Constitutional Right To Fish.. The monitored 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1998 Steelhead runs comprised -0- fish. . .although we obviously missed a couple of pairs in 1998. Flows in 1999 did not provide above surface water for any steelhead that might have entered the river mouth, so there was no chance of a run. The Spring rains of 2008 give us hope.

Evolutionarily significant, for living in the first place that the progenitors of modern Rainbow Trout appeared on the Pacific Coast, the steelhead of Baja California and San Diego, northward to Santa Barbara County, are classified by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) as Evolutionarily Significant Unit #11 (ESU 11). It is theorized (aided by genetic identification) that the Rainbow Trout evolved from the Cutthroat Trout that migrated down the Colorado River, in an evolutionary journey that began mid-continent some 2 million years ago and concluded approximately 50,000 years ago. These "rainbow-like" Cutthroats evolved/branched into Proto-Rainbow strains; these trout entered the drainages of the Southwestern United States, and, upon entering a much less saline Sea of Cortez, the trout migrated and evolved up the drainages of mainland Mexico and Baja California, Mexico. The genetic patterns of the Gila Trout (upstream) and the Apache Trout, the more southerly Yaqui Trout, the Rio San Lorenzo Trout, the Mexican Golden Trout, and the southernmost Rio Presidio Trout of mainland Mexico support this migration and evolutionary theory. Another strain, the Red Band Trout rounded Baja California, Mexico; they entered the streams of northern Baja California, San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara Counties. There are strong genetic patterns among the remaining fish, which are the direct descendants of the progenitors of all Rainbow and anadromous Steelhead Trout. Today's Coastal Rainbows, from Santa Barbara north, which descended from the Red Bands, exhibit closer genetic kinship to the Proto-Rainbows than to the Cutthroats, indicating evolutionary development, rather than an evolutionary split.

The San Diego streams that have/had fish are listed here, while the streams that have/had fish in Baja are listed here. As the last glaciers retreated, 10,000 years ago, the streams of eastern Baja California dried up, leaving the streams of northwestern Baja California and San Diego to harbor future generations of Rainbow Trout. When the glaciers retreated northward the fish followed them, adapting to their new, colder environment, losing many of the gene traits that allowed them to survive in Southern California's unique chaparral/fire prone/drought ridden environment. By the time the fish made it to Kamchatka, environmental adaptations had led to gene-pool composition permutations that clearly distinguished the Northern fish from their Southern ancestors. This accounts for variations of gene alleles. Still, there is no original mitochondrial gene marker in any Rainbow Trout, anywhere in the world, that is not present in San Diego's fish, but the opposite cannot be said. San Diego's gene pool is, arguably, the historic motherlode of all Steelhead Trout, and, certainly, a unique treasure trove of genetic material.

The presence of a gene marker, say the "new" #16 mitochondrial marker, that is not present in San Diego Trout at all, only serves to cement, rather than diminish, San Diego's trouts' claim as being the progenitor of all modern rainbows, for the #16 marker is found in the Eagle Lake Trout and the Golden Trout, which live in the Eastern Sierra--no longer accessible to the Pacific/Sacramento Delta from whence they came. . .and they had to pass San Diego to get there. Geologic dating of volcanic and glacial displacements can tell us when this isolation occurred. . .plenty of time for sub-speciation and new gene markers. Rainbow Trout evolved in San Diego and radiated north. Contrary theories, that the Red Bands went north, evolved into Coastal Rainbows, then radiated south cannot explain away the existense of isolated trout populations with Red Band characteristics in the North and in San Diego and Baja California (the northern fish with Red Band characteristics are non-anadromous, unlike our southern fish, which are ocean going, just like the fish that originally swam north, supporting our claim that our strain is older); if modern Rainbows (post Red Bands) evolved in the North and radiated south, why aren't there any 16s in the South?; if Rainbow Trout evolved from Red Bands in the North, prior to the last ice age, and, if "The North" was buried under a block of glacial ice, south, to the Southern Sierras, for thousands of years during the last ice age, where did these Rainbow Trout live, if not in the South?; if Coastal Rainbows evolved in the North from southern Red Bands, how would such an exotic fish--that evolved in the North--be able to radiate south and replace a population perfectly adaptable to our climate? Logic would suggest it didn't happen. San Diego's fish, the descendants of Red Bands are the first evolutionary step beyond the Proto-Rainbows. Our trout--the descendants of Red Bands and an ancient mixing with the evolving Coastal Rainbows (with some genetic pollution by recent hatchery plants) survive to this day--their claim as the oldest Rainbow Trout in the world has strong arguments.

San Diego Trout owes its creation to the pioneering work of such conservationists as Whitey Perry, Harlon Bartlett, Bill and Eilene Stroud, State Senator Bob Wilson, Allen Greenwood, and Jim Brown. It was the latter two, Allen Greenwood and Jim Brown, who decided to bring everyone into one big tent--hence, they co-founded San Diego Trout. Greenwood's repeated plantings of trout with genes similar to our original coastal rainbows has provided for a natural selection and survival of the fittest, resulting in generations of wild trout adaptable to San Diego's environment. The trick, of course--now that dams, concrete channels, culverts and water diversions on virtually every San Diego river have precluded natural reintroduction, through natural migrations between drainages, following natural temporary extinctions due to drought--is to implement a plan to create and maintain a multitude of these populations so that assisted reintroductions can occur following extirpations due to drought. Jim Brown, drafted what has become the basis for what we believe will be the DFG's Wild Trout Management Plan for San Diego--when the DFG's plan gets drafted/released to the public, you will see it here. Following the birth of San Diego Trout, members of The San Diego Flyfishers--most notably Bruce Campbell and Gretchen Yearous, offered support. Member, and, San Diego County Fish and Wildlife Commissioner, Mike Pottorff, also offered support as well as web space for this page, which he hosts, as did the San Diego County Fish and Wildlife Advisory Commission. San Mateo Creek researcher David Woelfel quickly supported the San Mateo restoration plan. George Sutherland and Mike Kolacz of Trout Unlimited provided support for the plan, as did trout enthusiasts Chuck Hauser, and Mark East.

In response to a 40+ page paper, written by Mike Pottorff, entitled "Government V. Steelhead," State Assemblyman (Now Senator!) Bill Morrow, asked if he might be able to help. Very quickly, he found himself across the table from both Pottorff and Greenwood, with the result being AB-691--a bill aimed at restoring the plant ecology, streambed integrity, arboreal canopy, and ultimately the three native freshwater fish of the San Mateo, the southern Steelhead, the partially armored three-spined stickleback, and the arroyo chub (renderings by Allen Greenwood). AB-691 languished as a result of the politics of Assemblyman Morrow's party (Republican) losing control of the Assembly, but (now) State Senator Morrow remains leading the charge of support, which is now bi-partisan, in the person of United States Senator Barbara Boxer (Democrat). Senator Morrow's renewed efforts have resulted in an $800,000 allocation for steelhead recovery, pending approval by the voters (Prop 12). The comprehensive plan has enlisted the support of many private groups and government agencies with proven records in such restorations and it has been endorsed by a host of environmental groups. Audubon, the Sierra Club, and a host of fishing organizations are onboard. The San Mateo Creek restoration promises to be the shining star in San Diego Trout's list of planned and ongoing projects.

San Mateo Creek is significant as it harbored the last steelhead runs of any consequence in San Diego County; it is the only undammed river in the county, running from the mountains to the ocean, and it is the only river entirely on public land. Fifty percent of the creek is on Camp Pendleton, where almost 100% of the habitat degradation has occurred. Camp Pendleton, which once ran a managed steelhead fishery program, by themselves, hopefully, will eventually embrace and support the plan. The plan is in accordance with the Fish and Wildlife Service recommendations for the base, the accords struck between General Reinke and Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, 16 United States Code Chpt. 5C, the California Department of Fish and Game Steelhead Restoration Plan, and the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Department of the Navy (represented then by the current Director of CA Fish and Game, Jacqueline Schafer), between the Navy and Trout Unlimited. Click here for a comprehensive look at the plan.

San Diego Trout is actively pursuing its dinosaur hunt--by attempting to locate native San Diego Coastal Rainbow Trout (those not polluted by hatchery genes in any way)--by searching for stranded populations of "pure strain" fish. Research by Greenwood and Pottorff, with corroboration from hikers, seasoned flyfishers/pioneers, and Indians have provided the impetus for a pack trip into hidden corners of San Diego's back country. The US Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Game, and the National Marine Fisheries Service anxiously await the results. View the historical chain for this dinosaur hunt.

If fish are found, and if they are "pure" Southern Steelhead, or, if there are no fish, or if they are not pure, expeditions will return during the Spring rains to intercept the run of smolting fish from our other known, albeit impure, populations of fish (there were no rains or runs this year), and, those fish will be taken to Hubbs (Sea World) Institute, where they will be raised in grow out pens, graciously made available by Mr. Don Kent (who is a major architect of Southern California's recovering White Sea Bass, Halibut, and Salmon Fisheries). The San Diego County Fish and Wildlife Commission, a partner of San Diego Trout, has partnered with Hubbs Research Institute and has approved the purchase of a chiller/pump to nurture these fish. Hopefully, subject to permits, these fish will become the broodstock of our restoration efforts.

For other essays related to San Diego Trout and/or San Diego's trout, click here.

To e-mail supporters of San Diego Trout, click here.

To check out San Diego Flyfisher's page, click here.

To check out SD Fishin's page, click here.

To find where San Diego Trout planted fingerlings, click here.

To check out other San Diego fishing sites, click here.

To meet other San Diego recreational fishermen, click here.

Steelhead .gifs graciously provided by Annie Kook.

E-MAIL Band space for this web page has been donated by Mike Pottorff, who is solely responsible for its content. It is intended to be a reference work; therefore it would be appreciated if required clarifications or emendations were brought to the attention of the webmaster, so that they might be promptly addressed.

This Fly Fishing Loop site is owned by San Diego Trout.
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