Adult Monitoring


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.

Just for fun: Test your adult salmonid ID skills!

Adult coho monitoring

2018/19 adult returns

As in other coastal streams, this spawning season is off to a good start with an estimated 239 coho returning to the Russian River basin as of December 20. Unlike in previous years, we are seeing a lot of 3-year old fish (213/239) so we are hopeful for a more successful spawning season.

Although the adults started entering the river in October, it was not until the rain event a couple of weeks ago that they started showing up in the tribs. Spawning activity is now in full force and the next couple of weeks should be really exciting!

As a part of our CMP work, we are continuing to survey steelhead streams in the upper Russian River basin.


2017/18 adult returns

This was the first winter that the Russian River CMP program surveyed steelhead habitat in the upper Russian River watershed.  Sonoma Water and Sea Grant crews surveyed 48 streams and observed a total of 228 redds (Chinook, steelhead or unknown salmonid species), most of which were steelhead species. 

The estimated total number of adult coho salmon returning to the Russian River Basin was 763, based on PIT-tag data. This is the highest estimate since the inception of the Broodstock Program; however, the vast majority of these fish (97%) were 2-year old jacks and there was a dissportionately high number of males, so numbers alone don't tell the whole story. Summer 2018 juvenile counts will be more indicative of spawning success. 

See our Winter Monitoring Report for full details on adult sampling methods and outcomes. 

Estimated annual adult hatchery coho salmon returns to the Russian River. Methods were not consistent among years; prior to 2009/10, spawner surveys were the primary method, from 2009/10 – 2011/12 methods included spawner surveys, video monitoring and PIT tag detection systems, and beginning in 2012/13, with the installation of the Duncans Mills antenna array, PIT tag detection systems were the primary method used.

Check out these videos of salmon spawning in our local streams: