Napa River's 2017 fish count high for salmon, not for steelhead
Nov 29, 2017 at 10:00am
Berry Eberling, Napa Valley Register
Near record-breaking rain last winter resulted in a bumper crop of Chinook salmon, but not of steelhead trout.
The Napa County Resource Conservation District recently released the results for its annual fish monitoring program. Researchers during the spring catch, count and release fish at a Napa River location north of the city of Napa.
California environmental regulators want to see more steelhead and salmon. Millions of public and private dollars have been spent over the past decade restoring Napa River segments and trying to reduce sediment runoff, in part to create a more fish-friendly environment. The Napa County Resource Conservation District’s ninth annual fish count provides a clue to how salmon and steelhead are doing. The focus is on juvenile fish as they migrate from the Napa River to the ocean.
“The concern was all those big rains would wash off the eggs and kill the fry,” said Jonathan Koehler, senior biologist for the Napa County Resource Conservation District. Instead, the Chinook salmon appear to have thrived. But the steelhead count was low for the fourth consecutive year.
Koehler said the effects of the five-year drought are lingering for the steelhead in a way that hasn’t happened for the salmon. He attributes this to a difference in the way the two species live.
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