The number of returning adults is an important metric in coho salmon recovery, as these fish are the basis of future wild coho populations. NOAA Fisheries has established a recovery target of 10,100 adult coho salmon returning each winter to the Russian River basin.
2017/18 spawner season update
Following the rains in November, we documented a total of 42 unique PIT-tagged coho salmon entering the Russian River, with an expanded count of 197 (see full update for details). The majority of these fish were detected in the mainstem of the Russian River or in Dry Creek, likely because of the extremely low flows in the tributaries, and 95% were jacks.
This is the first year that the Russian River CMP program has started surveying steelhead habitat in the upper Russian River watershed. Water Agency and UC crews are surveying reaches on 48 streams this winter. As of December 14, crews have observed a total of six redds (Chinook, steelhead or unknown salmonid species): three on Forsythe, two on Pena and one on Mill. We are keeping our fingers crossed for what looks like some rain coming in the first week of January that will hopefully open up the tributaries.
2016/17 adult returns
The estimated count of returning coho salmon for the winter of 2016/17 was 533, based on PIT-tag detections. We also observed live coho and/or coho redds in 23 out of 34 tributaries where UC and Water Agency biologists are conducting surveys this winter as part of the Coastal Monitoring Program; more streams than we have ever observed coho spawning in since the Russian River Coho Salmon Captive Broodstock Program began releasing fish in 2004! See our spawner season summary for more details on adult returns and redd observations.
And there is some exciting news on Mill Creek! As a result of a passage barrier remediation project implemented by Trout Unlimited, Prunuske Chatham Inc., NOAA Fisheries, CDFW, and the Water Agency this past summer, adult coho are now able to access 11 miles of prime spawning and rearing habitat above a former flashboard dam.
Check out these videos of salmon spawning in our local streams:
- Beautiful male coho in Woods Creek
- Coho spawning in Pena Creek
- First coho spawning observed upstream of former barrier in Mill Creek
- Lots of Chinook in Pena Creek
- Big Chinook in Pena Creek