CDFW asks anglers to limit fishing hours due to drought conditions

Staff Report

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is requesting that anglers voluntarily avoid fishing during certain hours of the day because of drought conditions.

Called “hoot owl” restrictions, anglers are asked to avoid fishing after noon and to only fish during the cooler “hoot owl” periods of the day when water temperatures are lowest.

The drought conditions and warm temperatures negatively impact fish in many ways.

“Biologically, fish experiencing elevated water temperatures and associated lower oxygen levels will be highly stressed and, in some situations, have elevated levels of mortality or disease. Low water conditions may also limit fish abilities to naturally migrate for spawning or to seek cooler water refuge,” a press release from CDFW stated.

The press release went on to state, “coldwater species such as trout and salmon have the greatest likelihood of being affected by the drought this year, but low water levels and high water temperatures can potentially affect all inland aquatic species.”

Water ways are added to a “Hoot Owl” watchlist when the afternoon water temperature exceeds 67 degrees. While hoot owl restrictions are voluntary, CDFW, “strongly recommends adhering to the recommendations.”

The current restrictions impact:

∙ The Lower Owens River (Pleasant Valley Dam downstream to Five Bridges)

∙ Hot Creek

∙ Mill Creek (Walker Basin)

∙ Lower Rush Creek (From Grant Lake to Mono Lake)

∙ Bridgeport Reservoir

∙ Deep Creek

∙ Crowley Lake

∙ Truckee River (From Lake Tahoe to Nevada Stateline)

∙ East Walker River (From Bridgeport Reservoir to Nevada Stateline)

∙ Upper Truckee River (From Lake Tahoe to headwaters, including tributaries)

During elevated temperatures, many fish species will often search out cold water refuges which include deeper water, spring seeps or cold-water tributaries. CDFW asks anglers to avoid fishing those refuge areas to avoid angling-based mortality.

For more information, visit

Tips to decrease fish stress

Minimize the time you spend “fighting” the fish and any hands-on handling.

Use rubber or coated nylon nets to protect a fish’s slime layer and fins.

Quickly remove the hook with forceps or needle-nosed pliers.

Minimize the amount of time the fish is exposed to air, especially when the weather is warm. Keep your hands wet when handling the fish.

If the fish is deeply hooked, do not pull on the line. Instead, cut the line as close as possible to where it is hooked and leave the hook.

Allow the fish to recover in the net before you release it.

If the fish does not stay upright when you release it, gently move it back and forth.

Avoid fighting fish from deeper, cooler waters and bringing them into warmer waters at the surface.

Target fisheries that have stable water levels or species that are more resilient to elevated temperatures.

Source: CDFW

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