The Fish Rescue Crew
Driving south on Interstate 5 a few weeks ago, I crossed the Stony Creek Bridge, just north of Orland, California. The experience brought back vivid memories of my childhood—fishing, swimming, and exploring every inch of that wonderful Sacramento Valley stream.
One exceptionally dry season fifty years ago, the stream slowed to a trickle and stopped, leaving fish stranded in isolated pools. As the local California Fish and Game warden, my father organized a fish rescue detail. He invited my brother and me to participate, along with a few friends and some of the local townsfolk. I remember meeting in a parking lot behind Bucke’s Feed and Grain early that Saturday morning. Loaded with a twenty-foot fish seine and an old pickup full of milk cans, off we went. By the end of the day we had rescued and transported hundreds of juvenile salmon and steelhead, along with an assortment of bass and catfish, to the nearby Sacramento River. Fun was had by all, especially the local turkey vultures who feasted on the carp and hardhead minnows that didn’t make the cut.
Today, our streams are threatened like never before. With an ever-warming planet, droughts and longer summers seem to be the rule, rather than the exception. Wildlife-friendly native plants that once shaded our waters are being displaced by invasive, drought-tolerant species like Ailanthus (Chinese tree of heaven), Tamarix (salt cedar), and Arundo (cane). Even with reservoirs, like the three that now encumber Stony Creek, more and more interests are competing with fish and wildlife for the limited water that tumbles from mountain canyons and flows across the valley.
Today’s “fish rescue crews” are concerned citizens who get involved by forming local watershed groups, like the one I wrote about in my August 8th blog post.
Rescued any fish lately?
Photo (circa 1963) by Wally Callan. Pictured are Mike Cauble, Paul Martens, Glenn Tibessart, Unidentified Gentleman, Yours Truly, and Ken Callan.