Fall-run chinook salmon and winter-run steelhead trout on the Smith River are prized by anglers and fish-fans nationwide, often drawing comparisons to the abundant runs in Alaska.
Rachel McCain, far left, director of the Smith River fish count, prepares snorkellers to survey the Smith River for last year’s count. Courtesy Rachel McCain
The strength of these fisheries can overshadow the important role played by fish species found in the summertime.
That’s where the summer fish count comes in.
The 12th annual summer Fish Count on the Smith River hosted by Smith River Alliance will be held this weekend. Wetsuit-clad snorkelers will methodically comb vast stretches of the watershed searching for cutthroat trout and spring chinook to gauge the health of the river.
There’s still time to get involved with this year’s fish count.
Last year, 40 volunteers surveyed 38.7 miles of the North, Middle and South Forks of the Smith River in an attempt to count every adult fish over seven inches long. Last summer’s total count of cutthroat and resident rainbow trout was 1,395 fish, for an average of 36 trout per mile. A few steelhead trout, chinook salmon and sucker fish were also counted.
There will be training for new counters Friday afternoon at Rock Creek Ranch, and Saturday will be spent doing the official count.
Reach Adam Spencer at aspencer@