Young hatchery coho salmon released at new home in Porter Creek

Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Coho were once so abundant in the Russian River system they supported a commercial harvest of more than 13,000 fish a year. But decades of development, including construction of dams at Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino, reduced the population to about 100 adult fish in 1999.

Dipping a small net into the clear water of Porter Creek, biologist Ben White delivered a few dozen squirming, silver coho salmon fingerlings into their new home Monday.
Morning fog lingered over the creek, a tributary of the nearby Russian River, as White and his three-man team from the Warm Springs Dam fish hatchery donned waterproof waders to deliver about 6,000 of the hatchery’s latest offspring into their adopted home.
Several of the 4-inch-long salmon immediately took shelter beneath the overhang of an underwater rock, a good choice, White said. Scientists expect the fish, about 10 months old, to quickly form a biological imprint with the creek and return, should they survive, in two or three years to spawn as adults.
“The hope is they will hunker down for the winter in Porter Creek and migrate out (to the ocean) in spring,” said White, who is lead biologist for the hatchery-based coho salmon recovery program.
Prized by anglers, the coho are closely monitored, as if they were precious cargo, for they represent the future of a diminished and officially endangered species.
Read more at: Young coho salmon arrive at new home in Porter Creek | The Press Democrat