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.
2016/17 adult returns
With the early rains, we began detecting adult coho salmon in the Russian River in October this year. As of January 3, the estimated count of returning coho salmon is 456, based on PIT-tag detections. We have 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 Coho Salmon Conservation Program (a.k.a. Coho Broodstock Program) began releasing fish in 2004! See our most recent spawner season update for more details.
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. We have already documented numerous coho spawning upstream of the project site in habitat where their offspring are expected to thrive next summer.
Check out these videos to get a feel for what's been happening in our local streams:
2015/16 adult returns
In the winter of 2015/16, a minimum of 30 coho adults were observed returning to the mainstem Russian River and monitored tributaries. PIT tag data was used to generate an estimated count of 192 Broodstock Program coho salmon adults returning to the lower Russian River. During spawner surveys, we also observed over 200 unique coho, steelhead and Chinook reddswhich can be seen on our 2015/16 redd map.
A few videos from last winter, including one of a very confused steelhead:
- Steelhead courting a Chinook salmon
- Coho salmon spawning in Redwood Creek
- Pair of steelhead in Wine Creek