Speaker: Nick Buckmaster
Last Update: 11/14/2020
CDFW Heritage and Wild Trout Biologist for Sierras
Heritage and Wild Trout Waters
Nick is the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Heritage and Wild Trout biologist for Inyo and Mono Counties. He was born and raised in Descanso, CA, and spent his formative years hunting and fishing in East County. Join our next club Zoom Meeting: Monday, December 7, 7:30 p.m. with Nick Buckmaster
Nick will provide an update on the fishing opportunities provided by the heritage and wild trout waters in the Eastern Sierra. This will include a quick overview of the latest Heritage Trout Water, Wolf Creek. Following that, he will delve into the rewatering of the Owens River Gorge and the science behind the re-creation of one of California’s premier brown trout fisheries.
16 miles of the Owens River Gorge were dewatered by hydroelectric projects in 1953 and remained dry for almost four decades. In 1991, legal action allowed for minimal bypass flows into the dewatered portion of the Owens Gorge. Between 1991 and 2017, the Owens River Gorge had a relatively constant low-flow regime. This prolonged period of low flows inhibited the fishery that should have developed following rewatering. Many stream processes are driven by high flow and low flow cycles and depend on both to function. Construction of dams and associated water diversions have significantly altered flow quantity and quality, creating an artificially static environment. Beginning in 2017, high flow events occurred within the Owens Gorge restoring a portion of the flow variability. We collected data before and after the high flow events to assess the impact on aquatic habitat, aquatic invertebrates, and fish populations. We observed responses in channel morphology, sediment composition, the macroinvertebrate community (including a dramatic reduction in New Zealand mudsnails), and a dramatic increase in trout biomass.