Chehalis River Smolt Production, 2021


Published: May 2023

Pages: 51

Publication number: FPA 23-06

Author(s): Daniel Olson, Devin West, John Winkowski, Todd Seamons, and Marisa Litz

Executive Summary

This report provides the 2021 results from the juvenile salmonid smolt monitoring study on the Chehalis River main stem near Rochester, WA. The primary objective of this study is to describe the freshwater production (e.g., smolt abundance) of Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) and steelhead (O. mykiss) in the Chehalis River. Specifically, we describe the timing and diversity (body size, age structure, genetics) and estimates of abundance of juvenile outmigrants for wild coho salmon (O. kisutch), steelhead, and Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha). Based on the location and timing of our study, the results reflect juveniles that completed their freshwater rearing phase in habitats upstream of river kilometer 84 (river mile 52) of the main stem Chehalis River.

To meet the study objectives, a 2.4-meter (8–foot) rotary screw trap was operated near river kilometer 84 (river mile 52) of the main stem Chehalis River from March 18 to July 8, 2021.

Coho outmigrants were predominately of the yearling (or “1+”) age class (95.6%) with rare occurrences of subyearlings (or “0+”) and 2-year-old outmigrants (1.2% and 3.2%, respectively). Fork length averaged 118.5 mm (± 8.5 mm standard deviation, SD) for subyearlings, 129.0 mm (± 15.3 mm SD) for yearlings, and 143.5 mm (± 26.2 mm SD) for 2-year-olds. Abundance of wild coho outmigrants was estimated to be 220,194 ± 10,646 SD with a coefficient of variation (CV) of 4.8% (Table 1).

Steelhead outmigrants were one, two, and three years of age (51.9%, 45.6% and 2.5%, respectively), indicating three different juvenile life histories. Fork lengths averaged 160.5 mm (± 17.1 mm SD) for fish that were 1-year-old, 181.8 mm (± 24.0 mm SD) for 2-year-old, and 243.8 mm (± 26.3 mm SD) for 3-year-old. Abundance of wild steelhead outmigrants was estimated to be 30,942 ± 3,799 SD with a CV of 12.2% (Table 1).

Chinook outmigrants were subyearlings. Fork length of Chinook transitional and smolt subyearlings increased steadily throughout the trapping period with an average of 48.8 mm (± 7.0 mm SD) and 98.3 mm (± 4.3 mm SD) in the first and last full week of trapping, respectively. Abundance of wild Chinook subyearling outmigrants was estimated to be 438,032 ± 30,752 SD with a CV of 7.0% (Table 1).

Table 1. Abundance of coho, steelhead, and Chinook outmigrants that completed their freshwater rearing phase upstream of river kilometer 84 (river mile 52) of the main stem Chehalis River.

Abundance Group Origin Life Stage Age Class Abundance ± Standard Deviation Coefficient of Variation (%)
Coho Wild Transitional, Smolt Yearling 220,194 ± 10,646 4.8
Steelhead Wild Transitional, Smolt Yearling 30,942 ± 3,799 12.2
Chinook Wild Transitional, Smolt Subyearling 438,032 ± 30,752 7.0