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Court order halts stocking at Littlerock Dam - Printable Version

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Court order halts stocking at Littlerock Dam - Cover My Ass - 11-06-2010 11:32 AM

Court order halts stocking at Littlerock Dam
This story appeared in the Antelope Valley Press
Wednesday, February 4, 2009.

By ALISHA SEMCHUCK
Valley Press Staff Writer
PALMDALE - For 40 years, Bob Miller caught rainbow trout in the waters below Littlerock Dam.

Miller, 47, said his father first took him to that fishing hole in 1969, and since then he has continued the sport at that same location about 10 times a year, "mostly in the spring."

Now he'll be seeking another spot, because the Littlerock Reservoir is not on the list of lakes, reservoirs and ponds the state Department of Fish and Game will stock with trout this year.

"This is not a decision of Fish and Game," said Jordan Traverso, a spokeswoman from the agency's Communications Office. "It's court-ordered."

Environmental groups seeking to protect 25 native species of amphibians and/or fish sought to block the agency from stocking California's fresh-water bodies of water with nonnative fish.

"The judge found in their favor," Traverso said.

Los Angeles County waterways that Fish and Game won't stock this year include upper and lower Big Tujunga Creek, the east and west forks of the San Gabriel River, and Piru Creek, also known as Frenchman's Flat, according to a notice from the state agency dated Nov. 21.

In Kern County, a portion of the Kern River - Section O-4 - will not be restocked by Fish and Game. However, people in southeastern Kern County can fish at Lake Isabella, Hart Park Lake and Ming Lake.

The closest Los Angeles County waters that Fish and Game will stock for Antelope Valley residents are Elizabeth Lake and Jackson Lake near Wrightwood, although those who don't mind the drive can travel to Bouquet Canyon Creek near Santa Clarita and or up Interstate 5 to Castaic and Pyramid lakes.

Fish and Game personnel planned to plant fish in Elizabeth, Castaic and Pyramid lakes sometime this week, but did not specify the exact date.

Fish and Game has received "a lot of public outcry" from fishing buffs over the restocking ban, according to Traverso.

She noted that fishing is not prohibited at the sites not being restocked.

"There's still native fish." And, Traverso added, "there's probably fish from previous years. There's just going to be less fish."

Miller said the decision to not fill the Littlerock Reservoir with fish surprised him.

"It's such a popular place for us local folks to go. I saw a lot of people fishing last summer," he said.

Traverso said before it could do the restocking, Fish and Game had been ordered to do an environmental impact report, which could not be completed "as quickly as hoped."

Because the agency had lost some funding, it returned to court seeking some leniency for the tentative ruling issued on Nov. 6. But the judge told the sides to find a middle ground, she said.

"We went into negotiations for two weeks. This list came out

of that," she noted.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette on Nov. 21 expanded the number of waterways that Fish and Game could stock with certain exceptions, but prohibiting Fish and Game from stocking "nonnative fish in any California fresh water body where surveys have demonstrated the presence of 25 specified amphibian or fish species, or where a survey for those species has not yet been done."

Miller said he renewed his fishing license with the state every year, and usually caught the daily limit of five trout "using miniature marshmallows for bait."

Now that Littlerock Reservoir has been taken out of the mix as a Valley fishing site, Miller said, "that just leaves us with Elizabeth Lake, Apollo Park and the (California) Aqueduct."

He has fished occasionally at Lake Palmdale, but is not a member of the Palmdale Fin & Feather Club.

"It costs 15 bucks to go fishing with my friend there. You have to be a member. I go as his guest," Miller said. "Littlerock (Reservoir) was free."