Salmon and Steelhead Spawning Season Has Begun

Biologists measure dimensions of salmon
Biologists measure dimensions of a salmon

Researchers with California Sea Grant and the Sonoma County Water Agency have started winter spawner surveys throughout Sonoma County. The effort, funded by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, began on November 1st, with biologists conducting surveys in 56 reaches of streams throughout the Russian River Basin. These surveys inform resource managers how well adult salmon survived in the ocean, where successful spawning is occurring, and how well populations are recovering.

biologist holds Chinook salmon carcass
A biologist holds up a Chinook salmon carcass
that was discovered during a spawner survey.

PIT tag observations at stationary antennas throughout the basin have confirmed that 37 tagged adult coho salmon have moved into the lower Russian

River and are starting to make their way up into the tributaries. With a tag rate of approximately 15%, we estimate that 245 adult coho have returned, already higher than last year’s total of 192 fish.

Several live Chinook and one Chinook carcass have been observed during spawner surveys, along with several salmon redds (nests that fish dig in the creeks). Researchers hope to observe more salmon and steelhead in the coming months as rain and streamflow conditions improve for spawning.

For more information visit Russian River Coho Salmon Monitoring Program.

Contact: Nick Bauer nhbauer@ucsd.edu

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