Steelhead have been observed returning to the Carmel River in 2017. Several methods (DIDSON and redd surveys) are currently being tested to provide steelhead population estimates. Previously, minimum fish counts were provided at the San Clemente Dam fish ladder, located approximately 18.5 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The ladder was removed in 2015 as part of the San Clemente Dam Removal Project. The reported steelhead were counted at the Los Padres Dam, located 24.8 miles upstream. Number of fish spawning in the lower Carmel River is unknown. Los Padres Dam fish counts and San Clemente Dam Fish counts provided by Monterey Peninsula Water Management District Fisheries.
“Steelhead in the Santa Clara River 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 2013). Current target is not specific to the Carmel River but to South-Central California Coast Steelhead Recovery Area populations. As quantitative field data becomes available, specific targets may be defined (NMFS, 2013).”
The 2016/17 snapshot is defined as fall 2016 to spring 2017, as per when salmon and steelhead return from the ocean to spawn. Fall Chinook spawning season is fall 2016. Coho season is fall through early January 2017. Steelhead season can start in fall 2016 but is primarily winter and spring 2017. Spring Chinook return in spring 2016 and spawn in the fall 2016.
National Marine Fisheries Service. 2013. South-Central California Coast Steelhead Recovery Plan. Southwest Region, Protected Resources Division, Long Beach California.
fish images © Joe Tomelleri