[env-trinity] Mad River Hatchery Back In the Steelhead Business

Daniel Bacher danielbacher at hotmail.com
Tue Jan 18 15:04:58 PST 2005

Mad River Hatchery Back In The Steelhead Business

by Dan Bacher

The Mad River Fish Hatchery is again spawning and raising steelhead this 
year, due to a unique state-private partnership, according to Ryan 
Broddrick, Department of Fish and Game Director.

Broddrick was one in a lineup of star speakers at the Anglers Caucus on 
January 15 at the Fred Hall Fishing Tackle & Boat Show at the Cow Palace in 

“I just got back from Blue Lakes, where I spawned the first steelhead to be 
spawned under the new partnership,” said Broddrick. “After the hatchery was 
mothballed because of budget cuts in 2003, I made a challenge to the locals 
to raise the funds for the hatchery. They met the challenge and raised the 
funds necessary to put the hatchery back in business.”

Under a memorandum of agreement signed in December, the DFG and Friends of 
the Mad River Fish Hatchery will provide the necessary funding, personnel, 
and volunteers to operate the hatchery this year.

Because of severe budget cuts, the Mad River Fish Hatchery took its last 
adult steelhead in the winter of 2002 and released its last yearlings in 
April 2003.

“This partnership allows the communities around Mad River Hatchery, through 
their participation, to provide significant economic, educational, and 
recreational benefits,” said Broddrick.  “I am truly impressed with the 
dedication of the local communities to make this partnership a reality.”

This is not the first time that the Mad River Hatchery has faced a crisis. 
In 1994, the hatchery was put on the chopping block by then DFG Director 
Boyd Gibbons.

However, Larry Williams of the Northern California Association of River 
Guides, Howard Bailey, a board member of United Anglers, myself and other 
anglers waged a campaign to keep the hatchery open. Pressured by an 
outpouring of phone calls and letters from dedicated steelhead anglers, the 
DFG management decided to keep the facility open, although they reduced the 
numbers of steelhead produced.

At a news conference at the hatchery, on January 12, Dave Varshock of the 
Friends of Mad River, state Senator Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata) and Humboldt 
County Supervisor Jill Geist joined Broderick in spawning some of the 
steelhead that had entered the facility.

Under the agreement, the Friends of the Mad River Hatchery will provide 
funding through a tax-exempt, non-profit corporation. The group also will 
provide volunteers and additional resources necessary to operate and 
maintain the hatchery.

The group will assure the DFG by the beginning of each December that 
sufficient funds have been raised to produce a minimum of 150,000 yearling 
steelhead before spawning any fish that year The conservation group has 
raised $83,000 to date and plan to raise another $40,000 by December 2005 
according to Friends president Dave Varshock.

DFG will assign a full time fisheries employee to oversee day-to-day 
operation of the hatchery. This person will be based on-site and will train 
and supervise volunteers, and respond to emergencies. DFG also will provide 
additional staff to assist during peak activity periods, such as fish 

During the Caucus, Tim Alpers, producer of the unique strain of Alpers 
trophy rainbow trout that is stocked in lakes and streams throughout the 
Eastern Sierra, also spoke about a public-private partnership formed in the 
battle to keep the DFG's Hot Creek Fish Hatchery open. He emphasized the 
importance of the hatchery in the national tradition of recreational 

“California is the largest market for recreational fishing in the U.S.,” 
said Alpers. “When we heard the word two years ago about the state’s plans 
to close the hatchery because of budget cuts, I got drafted by the locals to 
keep the facility open.”

Local business leaders and anglers decided to start a non-profit 5013C 
private non-profit organization so that individuals, civic leaders and 
organizations could donate to the group. “With the non profit corporation, 
we can embrace the best of both the private and public sectors,” said 

Alpers emphasized the key role of Hot Creek Hatchery in California’s trout 
fishery. The hatchery provides 13 million fertile eggs per year – 60 percent 
of the fertile eggs needed for trout production in DFG hatcheries throughout 
California. It provides 1.7 million catchable rainbows, 500,000 super trophy 
brood stock trout, 700,000 subcatchable Kamloops trout and 500,000 
fertilized Kamloops eggs to be distributed to the entire U.S.

Alpers also plans to expand the facility’s potential, making into a 
beautiful tourist attraction. “Hatcheries like Hot Creek are located at some 
of the most beautiful places in the state, so we need to take advantage of 
this,” he explained.

Among other plans, he plans to convert some of the ponds at the facility to 
kids’ fishing ponds to introduce more anglers to the joys of fishing. “The 
importance of the fisheries to our civilization – to Americana and our 
family traditions - is so important,”

Roger Thomas, a member of the Pacific Fisheries Management Council and 
president of the Golden Gate Fishermen’s Association, reviewed some of the 
latest salmon fishery data from the council and the outlook for the upcoming 
ocean season.

Recreational ocean anglers in 2003 landed 220,000 salmon in California 
waters in 2004, in contrast with 93,000 fish in 2003, according to Thomas. 
Adult chinook returns on the Sacramento this fall were 250,000 fish, meeting 
the natural spawning goal of 120,000 to 180,000 natural spawners. The winter 
run also continues to rebound, with 7,000 adults and 2,000 jacks recorded 
last year.

On the other hand, Klamath River king salmon returns were poor, the legacy 
of bad water management that favors subsidized agribusiness over fish, with 
the final tally just missing the target goal of 33,000 natural spawners.

The ocean recreational fishery from Point Arena to the Mexican border will 
open on April 2, with biologists predicting good fishing. However, the North 
Coast salmon fishery outlook is less optimistic.

“Because of the low adult returns, we could have problems with the salmon 
fishery north of Point Arena,” said Thomas. “The only good thing is that the 
Klamath jack counts were way up this season.”

Other speakers at the event include Michael Kelly, Director of Constituent 
Services at NOAA Fisheries; Mike Nussman, President of the American 
Sportfishing Association; Phil Isenberg, Chairman of the Blue Ribbon Panel 
on the Marine Life Protection Act; Jim Kellogg, President of the California 
Fish & Game Commission, and Barry Broad, lobbyist. Tom Raftican, president 
of United Anglers of Southern California, emceed the event.

Over 300 people attended from a variety of organizations, including 
Coastside Fishing Club, United Anglers of Southern California, United 
Anglers of California and the Recreational Fishing Alliance and the Golden 
Gate Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (GGFA).

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