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Get ready to fish at the county fair

County Supervisor Michael Sanchez, right, listens June 1 as Plumas-Sierra County Fair Manager John Steffanic presents his project to bring trout fishing to the fair this August. Photos by Steve Wathen

Plumas-Sierra County Fair Manager John Steffanic is hoping to have a trout tank at the fair this year to teach kids how to fish.

“The main reason for the trout tank is to get kids exposed to fishing,” said Steffanic. “We try to represent all that is good in Plumas County, and Plumas County is known for its fishing.”

Steffanic reported that dozens of kids tried fishing in Portola during Railroad Days in years past. He expects the trout pool to become an annual event at the fair.

How much will it cost?

Steffanic estimates that a 21-foot diameter above ground pool will cost $750 and that the trout for the kids will cost $800, for a total of $1,550.

Trout Unlimited is providing the fishing poles, gear and five to six experienced fishermen to teach the kids how to fish. He added that other volunteers are needed.

Steffanic asked the Plumas County Fish and Game Commission to donate money for the project June 1. After discussion, the commission agreed to donate $500 to pay for most of the trout. Steffanic is hoping to get the county fair foundation to purchase the pool.


Trout require cold, pure and highly oxygenated water to survive, making it challenging to keep trout alive in an outdoor pool in August. The pool will be placed in the shade with circulation and added oxygen.

The water at the fairgrounds is not chlorinated, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Besides the heat, trout are also injured by handling after they are caught.

The commission considered using bass, because they are hardier than trout, but they are more expensive than trout.

It was not yet determined if the kids will be able to keep the fish they catch.

Where are the trout coming from?

The trout will probably come from the Mt. Lassen Trout Farm located 23 miles northeast of Red Bluff.

According to Adam Fuller, director of the Feather River College Fish Hatchery, the trout will weigh approximately two to three pounds each and cost approximately $5 per pound.

Feather River College will hold the fish at its fish hatchery once they are delivered to Quincy and bring over new trout every day to the fairgrounds.

Triploid fish

The trout to be used have three sets of chromosomes, referred to as “triploids,” rather than the normal two sets of chromosomes found in most species. For this reason, the trout are not able to reproduce.

This is important to help preserve the gene pool of native fish and to protect endangered or threatened species from additional competition. Otherwise, the fish are just normal fish.

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, triploid trout are created by forcing the egg to retain a third chromosome that is naturally formed during cell division. This third chromosome is normally ejected during egg development.

No skinny-dipping allowed

The tank will be closely monitored while the fair is open and sealed off at night for safety reasons.

Commissioner Dave Valle said that in the past when the fair held “splash dog” events, bathing suit tops and bottoms were often found in the tank the next morning.

Fish racing

Steffanic also mentioned fish racing as an event that could take place at the fair. A single tagged fish would be placed behind a movable gate in each of several 16-foot long, vertically stacked glass fish tanks. Fair goers would choose a fish to support and cheer. A randomly selected supporter of the winning fish would win a prize.

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