Salmon Snapshots

South Fork Eel River

2014/15 Population

Estimate of Ocean Returning Fish


Oncorhynchus kisutch


Oncorhynchus tshawytscha


Oncorhynchus mykiss

What We Have  
2,018 redds
856 redds
Incomplete data
What We Need  

Estimate of the number of spawning fish nests (called redds) for coho and Chinook provided by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Population estimates of the number of fish will be based on these redd estimates. As a rough rule of thumb, assume 2 fish per redd. Chinook estimate only made during the coho monitoring timeframe so is underrepresented. Monitoring ended prior to end of steelhead migration so steelhead data considered incomplete. The California Coastal Salmonid Monitoring Program for the South Fork Eel River initiated in 2010/11. The 95th % confidence interval is 1,260 to 2,777 for coho redds and 329 to 1,383 for fall chinook redds. Data are preliminary and subject to change.

Coho salmon in the South Fork Eel basin are state and federally listed as threatened. Chinook and steelhead are federally listed as threatened. The “What We Need” spawner population abundance targets shown above represent just one of several criteria that the National Marine Fisheries Service considers when determining whether a species should be removed from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (50 CFR 223.102). Recovering any of the species entails meeting criteria for abundance, productivity, diversity, and spatial structure across multiple watersheds, as well as criteria for alleviating threats (NMFS 2012, NMFS 2016). Chinook adult spawning target is for combined South Fork Eel River and Lower Eel mainstem subsets of the Lower Eel River population; South Fork Eel River provides the majority of the spawning habitat.

The 2014/15 snapshot is defined as fall 2014 to spring 2015, as per when salmon and steelhead return from the ocean to spawn. Fall Chinook spawning season is fall 2014. Coho season is fall through early January 2015. Steelhead season can start in fall 2014 but is primarily winter and spring 2015. Spring Chinook return in spring 2015 and spawn in fall 2015.


National Marine Fisheries Service. 2014. Final Recovery Plan for the Southern Oregon Northern California Coast Evolutionarily Significant Unit of Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch). September 2014.

National Marine Fisheries Service. 2016. Final Coastal Multispecies Recovery Plan. National Marine Fisheries Service, West Coast Region, Santa Rosa, California.


fish images © Joe Tomelleri