From the Archives: Salmon and steelhead jumping dam

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This article was originally published in the Express in 1952. Thousands of fish jumping the Winters dam during the past fortnight gave the people of Winters a lot to talk about. The salmon and steelheads came up the stream in hords, headed to the headwaters of Putah Creek to spawn. The people of this area flocked to the dam to watch the fish attempt to jump the dam. The stream is closed to steelhead fishing, simply because no nimrod ever thought that the game fish would be in the water in large numbers. In all probability the stream will be open to steelhead fishing next season. Efforts were made to get it open for the remainder of this season, which expires February 29, but due to the fact that the State Fish and Game Commission has no meetings scheduled in the immediate future, this was impossible. Fisherman drooled as they watched eight pound fish fighting the current, and could visualize the fish fighting on the end of the line. The businessman looked at the fish and visualized the creek next winter with thousands of fisherman lining the banks, spending money here for fishing supplies, food, drink and gasoline. The rest of the people looked at the fish and visualized them on a platter, considering the high meat prices. The Chamber of Commerce voted Monday night to write a letter to the Fish and Game Commission asking that the stream be open next season, which will open November 1. If Putah Creek is open for steelhead fishing next winter, it will be the closest steelhead stream to the bay area. Old timers scratched their heads to recall when if ever steelheads in large numbers have been in Putah Creek. Seven years ago Mr. and Mrs. Bob Schulze of Dixon saw salmon in the creek. Mr. Schulze waded in and was able to grab a couple of 20 or 30 pounders to prove to himself that they were salmon. Wilber Rile said that he noticed the steelhead in the creek three years ago, and has been watching them since. He believes that due to alterations in the bypass area, the fish now have a ready access to Putah Creek from Sacramento River. The percolation dam is not operated during the winter season, but even with the boards out, the bas of the dam causes a six foot waterfall, which is what impede the upstream swim of the fish. Last Friday morning the fish were observed jumping at the dom at a rate of several a minute. No one can estimate how many thousands have successfully negotiated the dam. A by-product of the fish migration is the black bass, for which the creek is noted, will be fatter next summer. The influx of salmon and steelhead will furnish a good many meals for the bass.]]>

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