Almanor volunteers plant 50,000 trout

M. Kate West
Chester Editor

“Those trout are catchable size; much larger than we received last year. Boy, are they going to be big in the spring, “ said Paul Garrido, Almanor Fishing Association Oct. 18, during the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) delivery of 50,000 trout to the local fish cage program.

Garrido estimated the fish being delivered were six to eight inches long, an average of two inches longer than the fish delivered in 2009.

The other 17 – 18 volunteers agreed; they would spend Oct. 18 – 19 settling the fish in new holding tanks.

The day began around 9:15 a.m. when three DFG trucks arrived at the Lake Haven Resort on the East Shore.

Association members expected two trucks would bring loads of 12,000 fish and four smaller trucks would haul 6,500 trout each over the two-day period.

In a well-practiced maneuver, AFA volunteers readied a pontoon boat and attached the receiving cage.

After receipt of the first delivery, the boat backed away from shore and made its way to the platforms by the Hamilton Branch power plant.

Once there, the fish were netted out of the receiving cage and placed in a holding cage until released into Lake Almanor in the late spring.

During this phase of the process the volunteers worked in teams to net the fish.

“We need a lot of volunteers to lift the nets — they’re heavy and we all need to take turns,” Garrido said.

Association still needs help

“The fish cage program in Hamilton Branch has been in operation for the past 22 years with little to no maintenance,” said Paul Garrido, Almanor Fishing Association.

He also said due to wind, water surges and winter snows, the platforms and cages have greatly deteriorated.

Garrido said each of the five platforms holds two fish cages each and provides a safe, growing environment for fingerling trout.

“The goal of the project was to refurbish the five platforms and cages. As the refurbishment began, serious damage was found to have occurred to the large beams holding the platforms together and the gates to the cages,” he said.

That resulted in additional costs and delays. Because of the extensive, additional damage they discovered, only three platforms were completed and refloated this year at Hamilton Branch.

“The refurbishment of the last two platforms will have to be delayed until next spring or when we have the funding available to affect the repairs,” Garrido said.

AFA volunteers feed the fish daily throughout the entire winter and up until their release.

“We have about 33 volunteers who work in two- to three-man groups to feed the fish daily. They do this come hell or high water,” Garrido said.

The Almanor Fishing Association was officially organized in 1988. It is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit with more than 360 members from Lake Almanor, California and the U.S.

Any donations for fish cage refurbishment would be greatly appreciated.

To donate, make checks payable to Almanor Fishing Association, Attn: Fish Cages, P.O. Box 1938, Chester, CA 96020.

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