From our partners at Sea Grant California:
Locals have noticed an uptick in anglers catching salmon in the Russian River during early winter this year, but that doesn't necessarily mean that more adult fish are returning. It's more likely because salmon are confined to the mainstem of the river due to lower-than-average seasonal flow conditions.
Coho salmon and steelhead spawn in tributaries to the Russian River, so in years where there is just enough rain to allow adult fish to enter the river, but not enough water to allow access to their spawning grounds, they may be forced to hold in the river, but not enough water to allow access to their spawning grounds. As such, they may be forced to hold in the river for several weeks until streams become open to adult passage.
In water years like this, it is more important that ever to be conscious of the impact of fishing on these protected species, and ensure best angling practices when angling in waters with coho salmon and be sure to #crushthebarb and #keepemwet.
Concerned anglers will want to know that endangered coho are particularly vulnerable during periods of low flow during their spawning season. Anglers could easily catch one without intending to and, potentially, face penalties associated with harming them. Knowing how to identify coho salmon, steelhead, and Chinook is a critical skill for anyone fishing in the Russian River.
Please help us share information about this situation with your angling partners and friends, and use the hashtag #knowyourcoho.