Biologists on the Estuary

To celebrate the 2016 summer solstice, I twice paddled the middle reach* of the Russian River Estuary—Tuesday evening at sunset, and, Wednesday morning soon after sunup.

Six biologists from the California State Fish and Wildlife gathered fish population data.

Biologists at Work 6:22:16

June 22, 2016 10:00 AM Approximately halfway between Willow Creek and Duncans Mills (They release the fish back into the river.)

I spoke to them briefly and learned that they were netting fewer fish this morning than usual, especially steelhead trout. Steelhead, an anadromous form of rainbow trout, are of particular interest because they are a game fish and a good measure of the biotic health of the Russian River and Estuary. Steelhead trout are doing much better compared to other anadromous fish who call the Russian River home, Coho and Chinook Salmon.

Steelhead trout begin their lives in the Russian River watershed—some near my home in the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed. After spending one to three years in the river/estuary, they make their way to the ocean, and return to their natal stream beds to spawn, sometimes spawning more than once.

The biologists were netting flounder fry which developed in the estuary before spending the rest of their lives in the ocean.

I thanked them for the work they were doing.

BaEa 6:22:16 Duncans Mills

BaEa June 22, 2016 about 1 kilometer downstream from Duncans Mills on the Russian River

This toward the end of the paddle this morning, a Bald Eagle flew overhead. My wife and I saw perhaps this same individual in this same reach of the estuary on Sunday, June 19 on a Father’s Day paddle. It’s always a treat to see a Bald Eagle in the Estuary because they are still comparatively rare here.


*The Estuary’s middle reach extends from Willow Creek Campground to the Moscow Road bridge at Duncans Mills.

One thought on “Biologists on the Estuary

  1. Hi Dan,
    I’m not sure how you got your info, but those biologists are from the Sonoma County Water Agency, not fish and game. I don’t think Fish and Game has any biologists on the estuary.

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