Source: Modesto Bee - Opinion, Letters to the Editor Date: Thursday, June 21, 2012 Written by: Cindy Charles, Conservation Chairwoman, Golden West Women Flyfishers
I was happy to see the article about the Paddle to the Sea event on the lower Tuolumne. I was a participant, but we had to schooch my kayak over the rocky bottom more than once.
A few important things about the river: The question of steelhead trout being in the river was settled a few years ago and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission even acknowledged this by requiring the Turlock and Modesto irrigation districts to specifically conduct studies on steelhead.
Second, just because the minimum flows allowed this summer are under the current FERC license, that does not mean they are adequate. These flows are outdated and do not address all uses of the river.
As someone who has fished the lower Tuolumne for several years, all I can say is that when the water flows have been higher than minimal, the wild trout and steelhead fishing is outstanding. When the flows are low, like now, the fish disappear until the flows go back up for a sustained and specific period.
Yes, the districts are "donating" more water to the fish by targeting around 90 cubic feet per second this summer, but unfortunately it is not enough.
The districts have done a good job storing water in Don Pedro, but the fish populations will still suffer from the lack of adequate flows.
CINDY CHARLES conservation chairwoman,Golden West Women FlyfishersSan Francisco