Did you know that steelhead and rainbow trout used to thrive in Arroyo Seco Watershed? These beautiful fish would be hatched in the upper reaches of the Arroyo Seco, swim to Pacific Ocean and then return to the Arroyo to spawn and die. The Arroyo Seco and Tujunga Canyon were the prime steelhead streams on the Los Angeles River system. But Now the coastal steelhead is endangered throughout its range on the coast of Central and Southern California.
While native trout still exist in the mountain watershed of the Arroyo, their passage to and from the Pacific Ocean stopped abruptly when the Los Angeles Flood Control District built Devil's Gate Dam in 1920. This antiquated dam provides no fish passage for ocean-bound trout and degrades trout habitat by trapping large amounts of sediment behind it. The sediment is an important element of trout habitat because it creates soft gravel beds and stream conditions that foster fish-friendly habitat and riffles and pools for migrating fish. Devil's Gate Dam has effectively de-naturalized this process and caused drastic declines in the Arroyo Seco native trout populations. Conditions were further degraded in the 1930s and 1940s when ten miles of the Arroyo Seco stream south of the dam all the way to downtown Los Angeles were channelized with concrete.
It is now time to take a new comprehensive look at these facilities and their impacts and to develop a 21st-century program for sustainable stream and flood management. The Arroyo Seco Foundation aims to restore wild trout and other native fish and aquatic species in the Arroyo and is working with the US Forest Service and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation to restore habitat conditions in this major tributary of the Los Angeles River.
"At a distance 'Arroyo Seco' may be only soft Spanish for 'Dry Gulch,' but from the first day of the Pasadena colony, every hunter or fisherman who ventured beyond the granite gateway a mile above Devil's Gate brought back tantalizing stories of trout pools, foaming cascades and groves of live oaks, sycamore and spruce hemmed in by imposing cliff walls . . .
One morning three anglers reported a catch of 240 trout below the site of the ranger station."
- Lloyd Austin
Proprietor, Switzers Camp