The McCloud River might be California’s most-loved river, and despite a contentious licensing process and a lot of misinformation to the contrary, the dam relicensing process is probably going to result in flows that look pretty good for fish and fly fishermen.
We just posted an article at the CalTrout site (“The Facts About the McCloud Dam Relicensing Process’ explaining the final Environmental Impact Report’s recommended flows — including hydrographs graphically displaying the differences between the old flow regime and the proposed new one.
Winter/early spring flows have been modified to better protect the McCloud’s spawning fish and newly hatched fry from the severe swings often seen under the old plan
In the vast majority of years, fishermen will not experience any difference in the “fishability” of the river (wet years are out of control anyway, and dry years don’t present a problem to fishermen as much as spawning fish)
Higher base flows in winter (when fishing is illegal) not only protect spawning trout, they also reduce the likelihood of uncontrolled spills in the spring (which do shut down the fishing)
Contrary to all the rumors, there were few concessions made to whitewater folks (no pulse flows, extended spring flows, etc)
The Bad News
Outside of high water events (which suck equally under both flow regimes), the worst case scenario for fly fishermen involves a “normal” year with a late spike in flows; protecting spawning trout and fry requires a more gradual downward ramp than has been seen in the past, so flows will take a bit longer to settle out.
In fact, more gradual ramps and higher winter base flows (reducing the amplitude of the spikes in flows which strand fry and expose redds) are really at the heart of the modified flows, and because the above scenario only happens a few times a decade, it’s a pretty small price to pay for an enhanced trout fishery.
To see the actual data, I urge you to visit the CalTrout article and see the hydrographs for yourself.
After all, a few facts go a lot farther than a lot of misinformation.
See you being a water geek, Tom Chandler.