The South Fork Eel River is a salmon and steelhead stronghold and represents the best opportunity to restore wild fish abundance. This stretch of river has been impacted by excessive water diversions in many of its tributaries. Improving stream flows is critical to protecting key life-stages for coho salmon and steelhead survival.
To inform our conservation work on the Eel, CalTrout has teamed up with partners on this new project – The Adult Salmonid Sonar Monitoring Program – to tally the annual spawning run of Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead on the South Fork Eel River with a Sound Metrics Dual Frequency Identification Sonar (DIDSON) camera.
We covered this project in a previous article in the Current, “Using Sonar to Count Fish on the Eel River.” Check it out for more information.
Here’s the latest update for the 2019-2020 project year from CalTrout’s Matt Metheny, North Coast Project Manager.
This season’s Sonar deployment on the South Fork Eel River began 21 November 2019 and ended 30 May 2020. The preliminary estimate for Chinook Salmon was 2,093 adult spawners during the months of November and December. The preliminary estimate of 2,182 fish during the months of January and February represents a mixture of Coho Salmon and steelhead. The preliminary upstream estimate of 1,317 fish for the months of March and April represents steelhead, with an estimated 171 steelhead kelts returning to the ocean after spawning. The combined count of 5,538 fish for the 2019-20 season is well below the estimate of 9,194 for 2018-19. Funding for the 2020-21 season has not been secured, so the future of this monitoring effort is uncertain.
Read Matt’s full report below:SF_Eel_River_2019_20_sonar_update_3