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Working to Restore the Salmon of the Mattole Watershed

20th Annual Mattole Summer Steelhead Dives

The 2016 Mattole Summer Steelhead Dive will be Friday July 15th and Saturday July 16th.  Conducted annually since 1996, this watershed-wide survey is our primary source of information on the abundance and distribution of adult summer-run steelhead, and also provides information on the distribution of other native and non-native aquatic species.

We are excited to host this year’s dives at the beautiful A.W.Way county park. We will have a camp site reserved with limited tent space available for Friday and Saturday night. This year we are asking divers for a $5-10 donation to help us offset the costs of camping and day-use fees. There are flush toilets, hot showers and an awesome swimming hole!

Please RSVP by Friday, July 8.  The RSVP date helps us to make everything run smoother for scheduling, so we appreciate your help in responding as soon as possible. To sign up:

 

1.  Join the Steelhead Dives Google Group.  https://groups.google.com/d/forum/mattole-summer-steelhead-dives

2.  Complete the RSVP Questionnaire  http://goo.gl/forms/qswjtGXyUh4jc1Rm1 

If you need access to either the Mattole Summer Steelhead Dive Google Group or the RSVP Questionnaire, please send me an email at steelheaddives@mattolesalmon.org.

Friday, July 15:  We will meet at A.W.Way county park (directions below) at 8:00 a.m. Please do not be late. We will have coffee and pastries, and gear for those who have reserved it.

Saturday, July 16:  We will meet at A.W. Way County Park at 8:00 a.m. When you are done diving, bring all gear and data sheets back to the park where we will host a BBQ for all of our volunteers!

Tentative Itinerary (Times are subject to change.)

Thursday, July 14th

12:00PM – Overnight camping becomes available at A. W. Way Park

Friday, July 15th

8:00AM – All Participants meet at A. W. Way; Breakfast and Coffee

8:15AM – 9:00AM Welcome, Introduction, Safety Protocol, Gear Distribution, Shuttle Information

9:00AM-5:00PM Summer Steelhead Dives

5:00PM Meet at A. W. Way to collect data sheets and relax at the camp site

Saturday, July 16th

8:00AM – All Participants meet at A. W. Way; Breakfast and Coffee

8:15AM – 9:00AM Welcome, Introduction, Safety Protocol, Gear Distribution, Shuttle Information

9:00AM-5:00PM Summer Steelhead Dives

5:00PM –  Collect Data Sheets, Gear, etc.; BBQ at A. W. Way Park for Summer Steelhead Divers.

Sunday, July 17th

12:00PM – Campsite check-out time, A. W. Way Park

Gear:

Gear Needed:

  • Mask and Snorkel
  • Dive/Wading Boots
  • Hood and gloves for colder, upriver reaches
  • Wet Suit
  • Dry Bag/Waterproof Container for your lunch (IMPORTANT).
  • Small Daypack

Please bring your own gear if you have it! Decontaminate any gear you bring prior to arriving for the Summer Steelhead Dives.  The MSG does have limited gear, but it is always at a premium for the SSD due to how many great divers we have every year (THANK YOU!). Our gear will be available on a first come first serve basis depending on when you RSVP and sign up. We will let you know prior to the dives  if we cannot accommodate your gear needs. If you have extra gear you would be willing to loan to other divers, PLEASE bring it.
If you do need gear, you need to let us know ahead of time by completing the RSVP questionnaire.  Please do not show up and assume we will have gear for you.

 

There is no pre-dive training this year, but please thoroughly read over our training packet attached before you arrive to the dives.

 

 

Camping Logistics:

 

If you are camping please bring your own gear and cooking supplies. Please bring your own lunches for and Saturday in a waterproof container, dinner for Thursday night, Friday night, and any additional food you may need. A light breakfast is provided each day, but please bring additional food if you need it.

 

To reduce waste, please bring your own drinking and eating utensils and plates for the BBQ.

 

First-come first-serve camping is also available at the BLM campground at Mattole Beach.

Fill up your vehicle up with gas prior to the dives in either Garberville, Fortuna, or Eureka. There are general stores with gas and some groceries in Petrolia and Honeydew, but hours and selection are limited – come prepared with food and gas.

Directions to A.W. Way County Park:

 

Coming from the South: on Hwy 101, take the South Fork/Honeydew exit (22 miles north of Garberville) turn left onto the Mattole road, entering Humboldt Redwoods State Park, after 22 miles you will cross a green spanning bridge over the Mattole, take a right after the bridge and follow the Mattole road for another 8 miles, the park is on your left hand side.

 

Coming from the North: From Ferndale, turn right onto Bluff street/Ocean Ave and your first left onto Wildcat Ave/Mattole road. Take this for 36 miles, the park will be on your right.

 

I know it will be an amazing time, thank you all for making our annual dive possible, and look forward to seeing you soon! Please don’t hesitate to email if you have questions!

 

Mattole Salmon Group

707-629-3433

steelheaddives@mattolesalmon.org

Mattole Running High

2016-01-17

This is the kind of high water that rearranges the furniture for the fish.

I dumped 4.1″ out of the rain gauge today.

Here are some photos taken of the lower two miles, just before dark as the flow reached 24,400 cfs at the Petrolia Gauge, by the bridge.

Whole trees are bumping along in the current, careening off recent plantings.

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2015 Summer Steelhead Dive – July 17-18th!

The 2015 Mattole summer steelhead dive will be Friday July 17th and Saturday July 18th.  Conducted annually since 1996, this watershed-wide survey is our primary source of information on the abundance and distribution of adult summer-run steelhead, and also provides information on the distribution of other native and non-native aquatic species. For more information check out our Summer Steelhead Dive page.

We are excited to host this year’s dives again at the beautiful A.W.Way county park. We will have a camp site reserved with limited tent space available for Friday and Saturday night. We will be asking divers for a $5-10 donation to help us offset the costs of camping and day-use fees. There are flush toilets, hot showers and an awesome swimming hole!

For more information and to sign up, please contact Michelle Dow (michelle@mattolesalmon.org).

PLEASE RSVP by July 7th.

Return of the Kings!

Many Mattole watershed residents know that spending some time at the right spot on the river in the fall and early winter can yield sightings of Chinook (also called King) salmon as long as your leg. They’ll be swimming lazy circles in deep pools waiting for the next storm to move upriver; or on the spawning grounds, females working their tails literally to the bone to move grapefruit sized stones to ready the streambed for their eggs, while the males, all spots and scales and teeth and leering eyes and blind aggression are chasing each other about for the chance to fertilize those eggs.

Less well appreciated is that much of the Mattole River is also alive with Chinook in the spring. These fish, the progeny of the single-minded adults from the winter before, are much less conspicuous than their forebears, since they are only a few inches long. But they are much more numerous, with literally hundreds of thousands of them headed out to sea every spring.

MSG staff have been conducting regular dives in a river reach downstream from Petrolia beginning in April of this year, in part to monitor juvenile salmon and steelhead use of recent restoration projects. We’ve seen large numbers of juvenile Chinook, literally thousands, in just a short stretch of river (a few pools).

While this is just a snapshot of conditions in a small portion of the watershed, these observations seem to suggest that spawning incubation, and fry emergence from the relatively strong Chinook run from the winter of 2014-15 was fairly successful. We would expect this to be so, given that December rains allowed the bulk of the Chinook run to move upstream into tributaries and the mainstem in the upper portion of the watershed, reaches with generally more favorable spawning conditions than the lower river, and the subsequent mild flows and lack of large storms probably led to high rates of survival of eggs and fry.

Juvenile Chinook have a strong preference for areas with woody cover (such as willows or alders dragging in or fallen into the water) and relatively low velocity adjacent to higher velocity areas suitable for drift-feeding. Juveniles are concentrated in these spots, and generally absent elsewhere – although in the last couple weeks, we’ve seen more Chinook out away from cover feeding in riffles and more open water, presumably due to the combination of declining flows leading to more areas with suitable lower velocities, and larger fish with increasing ability to hold in faster water and less of a cover preference as they grow.

Another pleasant surprise on dives in late April and early May were observations of numerous coho smolts. Seeing a coho salmon smolt in the lower Mattole River feels a bit like finding the proverbial needle in a large and dimly lit haystack. Seeing a dozen in one pool is better!

For the sake of all these fish, hopefully temperatures remain mild, we get some more early summer rain, and all of us Mattole bipeds do our part to conserve water and keep more in the river.

Mattole Salmon Group 2014-2015 Spawner Survey Update

2014-2015 Mattole Salmon Group spawner surveys have been underway since early November (2014) and are about to conclude for the season. Here is a recent update of this year’s spawner survey observations. This data is preliminary so please view it as such.

As of February 10th, MSG surveyors had observed 80 Chinook redds (salmon nests), 4 coho redds, 72 steelhead redds, and 19 additional redds which were unidentifiable to a species. As of the same date, we have surveyed 15 reaches, which is around 20% of the total sample frame.

Welcome to Our New Website!

Welcome to the new Mattole Salmon Group Website! We at the MSG are excited to launch our new website. We have worked hard with the amazing team at Earthsite to update our site and bring new features to our friends, colleagues, and community.

Check out Thomas Dunklin‘s amazing underwater video, “Time to Swim,” of adult Mattole Chinook in the lower Mattole.

Visit our online Resources Menu.  You can now go to “Local Photos” to check out recent river photos and pictures of salmon and wildlife from the Mattole. You can also check local weather, streamflow, and more on our “Local Conditions” page (under Resources).