Editor: Allan Craig – Fish Taxonomy 101
There are four levels of fish taxonomy classification and comprehension. At which level are you?
Level 1: The grocery store group. When passing by the fish section in the meat department, if it looks like a fish, smells like a fish, and when cooked tastes like a fish, it must be a fish.
Level 2: At this level and after closer examination, people notice that there are distinct differences between a trout and a bass. Anglers at this level time their fishing trips to coincide with the arrival of hatchery trucks.
Level 3: Here people are really getting scientific, and noticing subtle differences between species such as brown trout, rainbow trout, and cutthroat trout. They might even know that a brook trout is not a trout- it is a char. People at this level join fly fishing clubs!
Level 4: Here anglers have reached the pinnacle, and can boast that they are advanced or even expert. People in this group know that there are many different sub species of cutthroat, and also know there are different strains of rainbow trout. It is very important that hatchery biologists know the different strains. For example fish from the Mount Shasta hatchery should not be planted in Baum Lake because they would not survive there.
Why? Anglers have probably heard of Whirling Disease, a fatal infection that can occur in rainbow trout (but not brown trout). It is caused by a parasitic protozoan Myxobolus cerebralis resulting in convulsive movements and the fish swimming in a whirling motion. There was such an infestation at the Mount Shasta Hatchery a few years ago. Some fish had to be destroyed, including all those large ones set aside for Kids Fishing Days. M.cerebralis has hopefully been eradicated from the hatchery and is not the reason those fish can’t go to Baum Lake.
In Baum Lake there is a different parasite, Ceratomyxa Shasta. This parasite is naturally found in the waters of the Pit River system. Pit river strain rainbow trout have evolved with resistance to this parasite. In the Mount Shasta Hatchery, Shasta strain and Coleman strain rainbows are reared, which do not have that resistance. The Crystal Lake hatchery adjacent to Baum Lake does raise Pit river strain rainbows, and also brook and brown trout which are resistant. So fish planted in Baum Lake would need to be Pit River strain, not Shasta or Coleman strain.
The Crystal Lake hatchery also raises Eagle Lake trout, which would be susceptible to the infection. To prevent the parasite from entering the hatchery, screens and other devices are designed to keep out the parasites intermediate host- a type of annelid worm.
Knowing that pathogens exist is a good reason why people should not be transporting and stocking fish on their own accord. Maybe not as obvious as finding Northern Pike in Davis Lake, but introducing different pathogens in waters previously clear of a disease can potentially be disastrous for fish populations. The Trout in the Classroom program receives Shasta strain rainbows from the Mount Shasta Hatchery because they spawn earlier in the year than Coleman strain. Our fish can only be released in specific locations, and students learn that pathogens are one reason why that is the case.
So: are you now level 4?
2019 Fish Camp Scholarship Program
The Fish Camp Scholarship Committee for 2019 included Marsha Caranci (chair), Allan Craig, Cris Hartman, Judy Inouye, and Phil Ryan. We awarded a total of five full scholarships to Fish Camp in 2019, four of which were funded by STFF and one by the Shasta Mayflies. Two alternates were also selected.
The committee read many very well written essays from 19 applicants – choosing the five lucky recipients was difficult. The kids each had to state why they wanted to go to Fish Camp and why they are interested in fly fishing. All the winners were very excited and appreciative upon receiving that special phone call and each had a great experience at camp learning to fly fish, cast, and tie flies, along with experiencing the outdoors, telling campfire stories, and making new friends.
2019 Fish Outs
2019 saw Shasta Trinity Fly Fishers host 18 Fish outs for its members. Seven of the 18 fish outs were on a weekend to enable our younger members to participate. Also, we held 4 bonus fish outs at various venues in Oregon and Nevada. For those of you unfamiliar with our bonus fish outs, they are planned for multiple days in or out of state. Quite often spouses attend these events, which turn into fantastic social gatherings after everyone returns from fishing. The most notable bonus fish out last year was held at Shady Cove in Oregon. The fishing was good, running the river in a drift boat or pontoon boat was fun, but the good times had by all in the evening was the highlight of the outing.
Our first fish out last year was held at Baum Lake in January. Fishing was cold but good. A hot lunch consisting of homemade Elk Chili and corn bread spiced up with green chilies and cream corn was served and enjoyed by all. This event boasted the best participation of the year and will likely continue to do so. This year, we will have to slip the event as the fishing at Baum Lake has been poor of late. We will still fish there it will just be later in the year. Check it out when the annual schedule is posted.
One item of concern to this Fish master is the participation in our fish outs. As a result, some of or most experienced fly fishers participated in a meeting to determine how best to improve attendance at our fish outs. For starters, we will have a dedicated table with a set of sign up sheets spanning six months. In addition, a copy of the fish out schedule for the year will also be displayed permanently and updated as required. Also, as in the past, fish outs will be announced via mail chimp and will contain the fish out description sheet. Our website will still have the annual schedule posted and the fish out description sheet for the upcoming fish out will also be posted.
Finally, I am considering holding one or two “beginner” fish outs depending on requests. They would consist of fishing with a mentor and work on fly selection, knots, rigging, reading the water, and hopefully playing and landing the fish. Anyone interested in participating in this event should contact Jim Tornillo at email@example.com.
Trout Unlimited- Redding
The Shasta Trinity Cascades Chapter represents the north state region of Trout Unlimited. The reins of leadership were handed over to the Redding group in 2016. One of the group’s first major undertakings was to host the organization’s national meeting in Redding in 2018.
The focus of the Redding chapter is conservation, and it has been active in that role. In addition to river clean up projects the group has assisted with trout and salmon rescue following periods of high river flows. Winter run salmon are of particular concern so the chapter has been working on habitat improvements. Brush piles have been added at various river locations for juvenile fish shelters. The next phase is urban stream enhancement beginning with Middle Creek and Sulfur Creek.
The chapter will be assisting the Department of Fish and Wildlife with trout and steelhead monitoring. Beginning in Clear Creek, fish will be captured and fitted with tracking devices. The group will then take part in following the migration patterns.
Funds are raised for conservation projects in several ways. 87% of Trout Unlimited dollars go to conservation programs and a portion of the annual dues are forwarded to the local chapter. The chapter sponsors an annual film tour shown at the Cascade Theater. In addition to national and international fishing adventures, films include conservation projects. One of this year’s films documented a TU member’s work in protecting the native Cutthroat Trout in Yellowstone Park and the efforts to eradicate invasive predatory lake trout.
The Shasta Trinity Cascades Chapter also has the support from local businesses such as Fall River Brewery. They have produced a special “Winter Run Redd” and $1.00 for every can of beer sold goes directly to the local TU chapter.
TU and STFF partner together for many of the activities. Meetings are held at the STFF clubhouse throughout the year. Often on the agenda are conservation presentations, as well as planning sessions for projects.
Beginning Fly Tying Classes
In they come, out they go – it happens six weeks in a row. Each spring and each fall, STFF offers a series of six beginning-level fly tying classes. Club members interested in acquiring the basic skills and knowledge necessary to tie their own flies come to the STFF clubhouse on six Tuesday evenings in a row to complete this class. The focus is on learning about tying tools, materials, terms, methodologies for fastening materials to hooks, and fly pattern resources so that when they finish this series, they can seek out and follow instructions to tie almost any fly. They’re also prepared to attend the club’s monthly intermediate tying classes, as well as those held on Saturdays. The spring series starts up in early March, and the fall series begins in early October.
Class members are encouraged to bring their own tools, if they have them. If not, they can either purchase a beginning vise and tool kit from the club or borrow what they need from the club. The classes are free to members, and all materials are included. Each class session has an instructor up front tying that week’s fly(s) and showing on the big-screen TVs each step of the process. At the same time, other instructors are circulating among class members to give hands-on help where needed. Each week at home, class members are asked to tie flies, so they get lots of practice. If you haven’t yet caught a fish on a fly you’ve tied, you’re missing out on something special.
Members who would like to attend a beginning fly tying class can sign up at general club meetings or contact Tom Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org
Beginning tying instructors this year were Alan Jones, John Durfee, Carl Aronson, Dennis Reasoner, and Tom Taylor. The team created a new 48-page manual designed specifically for the beginning fly tier. Each student purchases one and has it for reference. They are in loose-leaf binders, so that the fly recipe handed out each week can be added in the back. Reminders and short videos are sent out each week via the Remind app, and a survey is completed by the students at the last class. Results from the spring survey resulted in class sessions being increased to 2 ½ hours each.
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing
The Project Healing Water Fly Fishing (PHWFF) program continued to benefit our disabled local veterans with its weekly meetings for program participants throughout the year. Typical meetings were at the STFF clubhouse on Monday evenings with one Monday session a month dedicated to fly tying/knot tying and one session dedicated to fly casting instruction on the lawn at the Civic Center.
Weekly Monday sessions were supplemented by rod building classes in the spring and net building classes in the fall. In addition the PHWFF participants staffed informational booths at both the Anderson Boat, RV and Sportsmen’s show in February and the Redding Sportsmen’s Expo at the Civic Center in April.
Since our program is in the heart of fly fishing waters, we have focused on having our participants get out to fly fish. For the year we will have had 19 fish out events, some of which have included multiple overnight trips. We have also implemented a one on one mentoring program where a volunteer takes a participant out for a day of instruction and fly fishing mentoring at a venue in northern California.
The program’s major yearly fundraiser was held in April. Currently called the Sundial Challenge, the event was held over two days with a fundraiser/mixer that included live and silent auctions and raffles held on Saturday and the Lower Sac drift fishing challenge and awards dinner held on Sunday.
Our major fundraiser for 2020 will be held on April 11 and 12. We look forward to having STFF’s support with both volunteers and attendance to our event. We’d also like express our thank you to STFF members who have supported PHWFF in the past and continue to support our program to help in the emotional and physical healing of our disabled local veterans. We look to continue with our work helping with and for them in 2020.
Trout in the Classroom
For over a decade STFF has been involved with an activity initiated locally by the late club member, Earl Johnston. The program is known nationally as “Trout in the Classroom or T.I.C., while in California it is called “California Aquarium Education Program”, or CAEP. The Shasta County program is supported financially and with personnel by STFF and the Department of Fish and Wildlife, with some assistance from the local chapter of Trout Unlimited.
In Shasta County rainbow trout are raised in school classrooms, while steelhead or salmon are raised in Tehama County. The trout are provided from the Mt. Shasta hatchery under a DFW permit. These fish are triploid- the eggs have been submitted to pressure and forced to retain an extra chromosome. As adults the fish are sterile. They may only be released in specific approved locations where they will not compete with wild or andromous fish, nor transfer any pathogens that may be present in some waters but not others.
In the DFW north state region there are over 100 schools involved. In 2019 there were about 20 schools in Shasta County, and 4 in Tehama County. Eggs are typically available in early February, and hatch a few days later. The young fish are released just prior to spring break. Last year was particularly challenging. Snow fell the very day eggs were being delivered, and power to the aquariums was out for several days. Release sites had been impacted by the Carr fire, then by the damage from the heavy snowfall. Plans had to be very flexible!
STFF volunteers help set up aquariums, deliver the eggs, possibly assist with tank maintenance, transport the fish to the release site, and teach fly rod casting and fly tying. Last year over 600 students released fish and cast a fly rod, and over 250 tied a fly, mostly in the STFF clubhouse.
More volunteer help is always needed and appreciated! A planning meeting for teachers and volunteers will be held at the clubhouse at 3:00 on January 14. Fish release days for 2020 will be on March 24, 25, and 26. Locations tba.
Fly Casting Instruction
Jim Wigington, a Fly Fishers International (FFI) Certified Master Casting Instructor, offered two free, casting classes for STFF members during 2019. The first course was a one-day introduction to spey casting (Spey 101) in which 10 STFF members learned the basics of spey casting. Twelve STFF members participated in the second course which featured a two-hour class each week for four weeks. The course was designed for people with no fly-fishing experience to learn the basics of fly casting.
During 2020, the basic fly-casting course will be offered during May, and an on-water class will be offered as a follow-up. In addition, the FFI Fly-Casting Skills Challenge will be an important component of fly-casting instruction during 2020. The Fly-Casting Skills Challenge is a fun way to improve casting skills. It includes three challenge levels progressing from Bronze to Gold that include fly casts used in many fishing situations. The Bronze level Challenge is designed at the novice (but not beginner!) level fly fisher, while the Silver and Gold levels are aimed to advance the casting skills of intermediate and advanced level fly fishers. Recognition award documents and pins are available for each level achieved. Additional fly casting and spey casting classes may be offered as weather and scheduling allow. Please watch for sign-up information for all the fly-casting classes in the new year.
Jim also offers individual fly casting and spey casting lessons for a fee. Please contact Jim at: email@example.com you have questions about STFF free classes or about individual lessons.