Smith River (data source Esri)
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Smith River

General Information:

The Smith River, recognized for its exceptional water quality year-round, was incorporated into the Coastal Monitoring Program in 2011. Already, a variety of surveys have been conducted and the results are available.

Monitoring includes salmon and steelhead spawner surveys to estimate annual abundance over time in this watershed. Survey data from the first two years indicate coho salmon currently have a very restricted spawning distribution relative to Chinook salmon or steelhead. A juvenile out-migrant trap will be installed near the mouth of Mill Creek, a major tributary to the Smith River, to estimate the number of salmon and steelhead smolts leaving Mill Creek sub-basin. Abundance estimates from this trap will be used to track productivity and survival. The Department recently deployed a sonar camera in the lower basin to determine effectiveness of this new technology in obtaining basin-wide adult salmon and steelhead population estimates for large rivers. Using this technology, over 60,000 adult salmon and steelhead counted over two seasons from the fall of 2010 and the spring of 2012, providing a baseline estimate of returning adult salmon and steelhead to the Smith River. Current monitoring partnerships with the Department include National Parks Service, California State Parks, and the Smith River Alliance.


South Fork Smith River during the winter
near Big Flat Campground.

Photo Courtesy of CDFW.
Use of Dual Frequency Identification Sonar to Monitor Steelhead Escapement in the Smith River, California, 2012-2013
Operation of Dual Frequency Identification Sonar (Didson) to Monitor Adult Anadromous Fish Migrations in the Smith River, California: 2 Year Pilot Study
Reconnaissance of Salmonid Redd Abundance and Juvenile Salmonid Spatial Structure in the Smith River with Emphasis on Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch)
Smith River Adult Trout and Salmon Surveys Summer 2009
Smith River Summer Fish Count 2010 Report
Smith River Summer Fish Count 2011 Report
Smith River Adult Trout and Salmon Surveys Summer 2006
Smith River Adult Trout and Salmon Surveys Summer 2007
Smith River Adult Trout and Salmon Surveys Summer 2008
Smith River Adult Trout and Salmon Surveys, Summer 2005
Smith River Summer Snorkel Survey Results, 2000, 2001, 2002.
Adult Fish Count Report South Fork Smith River. Survey Date: August 24, 2002.
USFS Smith River NRA Adult Fish Counts 1991-1999.
Lower Smith River Estuary Creel Census, 1965. (MRB 68-3)
Fall Chinook Salmon Spawning Escapement Estimate for a Tributary of the Smith River, California. Second Interim Report 1980-1987. Unpublished UC Sea Grant technical report.
Smith River Chinook Study. (Supplemental to Fall Chinook Salmon Spawning Escapement Estimate for a Tributary of the Smith River, California. Second Interim Report 1980-1987, Unpublished UC Sea Grant technical report.) Additional counts, 1988-1999.
Recreational Angler Use and Catch in the Mainstem Smith River, California, August - December, 1984. (IFD 96-1)