Salmon Snapshots

Russian River

2016/17 Population

Estimate of Ocean Returning Fish


Oncorhynchus kisutch


Oncorhynchus tshawytscha


Oncorhynchus mykiss

What We Have In-River Return: Hatchery Return:   In-River Return: Hatchery Return:
471 471 3
2,618 2,618 36
unknown unknown 8,297
What We Need  

Coho population estimates are derived from redd counts, following the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s California Coastal Salmonid Monitoring Program protocols as of 2014/15.The 95th % confidence interval is 287 to 655 for coho. Prior to 2014/15, the coho estimates were the estimated number of hatchery coho adults returning to the lower mainstem of the river based on PIT tag detections, provided by California Sea Grant's Russian River Coho Salmon Monitoring Program; this method's estimate is 397 coho for 2014/15. Chinook estimates are the sum of Chinook salmon counts from a video camera operated at the Healdburg fish ladder (river km 62.6) and a DIDSON/digital video system operated near the mouth of Dry Creek (river km 0.4) and represent minimum fish counts. Video counts cease in early-mid December prior to the end of the Chinook and steelhead runs. Chinook counts are often representative of the yearly magnitude of the run. Steelhead spawn through mid-April, so counts are considered incomplete. Data provided by the California Sea Grant's Russian River Coho Salmon Monitoring Program and Sonoma County Water Agency. 

Coho salmon are federally listed as endangered. 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 2015, NMFS 2016). The spawner target for steelhead is the sum of the independent populations of Austin Creek (2,800), Green Valley Creek (1,000), Mark West Creek (3,300), Dry Creek (3,000), Maacama Creek (2,400), and Upper Russian River (8,500).

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.  


National Marine Fisheries Service. 2012. Final Recovery Plan for Central California Coast Coho Salmon Evolutionarily Significant Unit. National Marine Fisheries Service, Southwest Region, Santa Rosa, California.

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

fish images © Joe Tomelleri