The situation:
Locals noticed an uptick in people catching salmon in the Russian River during early winter this year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that more adult fish were returning. It’s more likely because they were 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 for several weeks until streams become open to adult passage. In water years like this, it is more important than ever to be conscious of the impact of fishing on these protected species.


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 the fishing community using the hashtag #knowyourcoho. The posts below are provided for convenience, or feel free to share your own.

Webpage: Know your salmon species to avoid catching endangered coho:

ID Guide: Download a PDF Russian River Salmonid Identification Guide at:

Avoid penalties and help restore the Russian River salmon fishery. Any time you catch a fish that looks like a salmon or steelhead:

Land the fish as quickly as possible

Have a rubber net ready for safe landing
Immediately check for an adipose fin. It will be intact on coho, wild steelhead, and Chinook. In order to avoid injuring or killing these protected fish:
Keep the fish in the water at all times – even if taking photos
Carefully remove your barbless hook and release the fish as quickly as possible

Hashtags: #knowyourcoho #keepemwet
Other related hashtags: #salmon #fishing #silver #coho #wild #catchandrelease #fishpicoftheday #salmonfishing #cohosalmon #angleredits #fishingphotography #outdoorlife #wildsalmon #wildriver #keepemwet #chinook #fortheloveofsalmon #fishing #russianriver