SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The latest casualty in this year’s drought may be fishing in the American River.
These days, the American River resembles more of a creek these days. It’s why wildlife leaders are likely to ban fishing at Nimbus Dam until the end of April.
“Since the water is this low, and the amount of fish that is in there, closing it is fine,” said fisherman Doug Duncan.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife says it doesn’t have much of a choice if it wants to keep populations up.
“The fish that are spawning now will return anywhere from 2, 3, 5 years out and we need to ensure those future generations will be there,” said Stafford Luhl.
Just enough water is being let out of Nimbus Dam to ensure the river doesn’t run dry, but with flows so low around rivers and streams across the state, it is setting up to be the worst spawning season in decades.
“In some systems we could lose the entire this year’s age class,” Luhl said. “In other systems it could be some proportion—25 to 75 percent.”
Al Ezell of Big Al’s Guide Service takes out groups to various lakes and streams. This year, he says, he’ll keep the boats on the trailers.
“It’s very disheartening,” he said. “I have people calling me wanting to go fishing. Some of my regular clients I have to turn them down, because I don’t feel like it is a good idea to go out when there is no fish.”
Those trip cancellations trickle down to bait and tackle stores like Broadway Bait Rod & Gun seeing fewer sales.
“Its slowed down a bit,” said Yee Vang. “Usually this time of year the river is up, flows are up, lot of fisherman. But there is no water”
There’s not much else to do now for fishermen but wait and look for some help from above.
“I’m just hoping and pray that we are going to get some kind of Miracle March or February to fill some of our reservoirs,” Ezell said.