Chinook Salmon in the Russian River
As of 12/8/13, 2,598 Chinook salmon have been counted during the 2013/2014 season.
Check back on this page for the latest numbers to be posted above on a weekly basis.
Water Agency biologists observed the first 2013 Chinook salmon to pass the underwater cameras installed at the Mirabel water diversion facility on September 2, 2013. The pioneering fish is the first of thousands that are expected to enter the watershed this season in a year that shows promise for larger than normal returns.
Staff conducted surveys to monitor fish rearing in the river over the summer and will be tracking the number of salmon returning past the Mirabel cameras in the weeks to come. The monitoring work is mandated under the State Water Board’s Temporary Urgency Change Order.
Below is a graph comparing Chinook salmon counts from the video monitoring system from prior years.
Per the Biological Opinion and State Water Resources Control Board Order, the video counting system operated continuously at both fish ladders (on either side of the dam) as flows permitted. Water Agency biologists and a team of technicians review the time lapse images seven days a week and visit the site daily to clean and maintain the cameras.
Chinook salmon currently returning to the River are offspring of wild parents that spawned naturally in the upper 75 miles of the mainstem or in Dry Creek. Unlike many steelhead and coho salmon in the Russian River, there is no hatchery production of Chinook salmon. Fish returning to spawn are two to four years old. Spawning typically commences in November and continues through January. Eggs incubate in the gravel for roughly two months before fry emerge and begin their downstream migration to the estuary. Water Agency trapping and marking studies have shown that most juvenile Chinook salmon enter the Pacific Ocean by July of their first year of life.
Poor ocean conditions that led to low food supplies for juvenile fish in 2005 and 2006 negatively affected the abundance of adult salmon returns in 2007 and 2008 - hence the recent fishery closures along our coast. The Water Agency has been monitoring Russian River Chinook for the past 13 years. In 2008, the Water Agency counted only 1,113 fish - our lowest total to date. In 2012, the Water Agency counted nearly 6,700 fish.
- View detailed data for past years chinook video monitoring (PDF)
- Historic Accounts, Recent Abundance, and Current Distribution of Threatened Chinook Salmon in the Russian River, 2007 (PDF)
We Need Your Help
Recovering Chinook salmon in the Russian River will require the participation of everyone in our community. If you observe any active Chinook poaching or suspicious activity, please notify the Sheriff's Department at 707.565.2121.