Salmon and Steelhead
Monitoring Program

For more than a  decade, California Sea Grant’s Russian River Salmon and Steelhead Monitoring Program has been conducting broad-scale MONITORING AND SPECIALIZED RESEARCH under the leadership of Extension Specialist Mariska Obedzinski. We monitor native salmon and steelhead at all life stages and work closely with partners to support salmonid recovery efforts  in the Russian River basin and throughout coastal California.

Fish Monitoring

Our monitoring and research is funded by the US Army Corps of EngineersWildlife Conservation BoardNational Fish and Wildlife Foundation, NOAA Fisheries and California Department of Fish and Wildlife, with contributions from Sonoma Water. Our work is made possible through the gracious support of hundreds of private landowners throughout the Russian River watershed.

Adult Returns

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.

LEARN MORE about adult returns


Sea Grant and Sonoma Water biologists conduct snorkel surveys each summer in order to document the presence and distribution of salmon and steelhead and to establish a minimum count of wild coho. In these surveys, they count coho and steelhead young-of-the-year (yoy).

LEARN MORE about Juvenile monitoring

Outmigrating Smolts

California Sea Grant biologists operate funnel net traps on key tributaries each spring to monitor the downstream migration of coho smolts (one-year old fish) as they make their way to the ocean.

LEARN MORE about smolt monitoring

pit-tag technology

Our biologists use tiny devices called Passive Integrated Transponders (PIT) tags, that allow them to identify and track individual coho salmon from their release as juveniles to their return as adults.

LEARN MORE about PIT-Tag monitoring

Reports & Publications

Our monitoring and research outcomes have been documented in a number of reports, articles and updates, which can be viewed or downloaded as pdf files.

Story Maps & Documents

2021 Community Update

Russian River watershed and our native fish

Historically, the Russian River watershed had the largest population of coho salmon in the Central California Coast Ecologically Significant Unit and was a world-renowned steelhead fishing destination. Today, it is home to three species of threatened and endangered salmonids and a diversity of native fish.

russian river learning center

Russian River Videos

russian river webinar

California Sea Grant Webinar: Salmon and Steelhead in the Russian River Watershed

A school of ~40 adult salmon schooling in Russian River tributary
A pair of adult coho salmon spawning in Russian River tributary
Watershed Stewards Program: Restore Mark West Creek

Our Team

Our team is based in the Russian River watershed in Sonoma County, California. We work with a broad network of collaborative partners, including hundreds of landowners, to support salmon and steelhead recovery, and associated ecosystem restoration efforts, throughout coastal California. 

our team

our partners

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