The hitch is a large native minnow found in California's great central valley. They can grow to lengths exceeding fourteen inches, and have been harvested commercially in the past. Hitch have declined in abundance in the southern half of their range, which once included all of the tributaries of the San Joaquin River. Most of these rivers have been dammed and dewatered almost into oblivion, so hitch have not fared well there. However, small populations of hitch continue to persist in the Kern River (near Bakersfield), and in the upper reaches of the San Joachin itself, near Fresno. The hitch populations in the Sacramento River system have fared better, still being found in good numbers throughout the northern half of the great valley. A distinct subspecies of hitch is found only in and around Clear Lake, near Mendocino, is called the Clear Lake Hitch (Lavinia exilicauda chi). Clear Lake once supported a massive hitch population, with millions of the silvery little fish crowding into the skinny waters of clear lake's trubutaries to spawn every spring. Sadly, the population of clear lake hitch has declined and the fish is now a rarity in waters where it was once the dominant aquatic life form.
Where abundant, hitch are not particularly difficult fish to catch, although their small mouths make them very difficult targets for anglers not well-versed in the use of tiny hooks and light lines. Biologists who study this fish explain how hitch prefer to feed on small insects, plankton, and algae in the slow-moving or still portions of rivers, where they often feed on the surface during the daytime. This seems to indicate that they'd provide good sport with a flyrod and a midge pattern.