Zero Chinook salmon were detected migrating up through the Daguerre Point Dam fish ladders during the months of April and May, spring months that typically see a large percentage of the total spring-run migration for the Yuba River and the few other Central Valley rivers that still have these salmon, which are listed as Threatened with extinction under the Endangered Species Act.
As of June 13th, 7 salmon were counted at the fish ladders, indicating that the later portion of the run is present and very small. The later portion of the run, unfortunately, overlaps with the more abundant Fall-run Chinook salmon which begin migrating into the Yuba River in July, increasing pressures on Spring-run fish to claim and keep spawning beds, known as redds.
The fish ladders at Daguerre Point Dam are deemed inadequate for free passage of salmon by federal and state fishery agencies. Passage impairment is most severe at high flows such as have been seen in the Yuba River during this year. Anecdotal fishing reports indicate, however, that abundance of salmon below the dam is very low.
The original source of information for Yuba River fish counts is the monitoring program of the Yuba Accord’s River Management Team. Link to their website for data and information about the annual symposium in Sacramento on July 11.
However, there is a hint of good news for the river:
Fisheries scientists under contract by the US Fish and Wildlife Service have used underwater cameras to detect at least 4 green sturgeon presently holding in the plunge pool below Daguerre Point Dam. Green sturgeon are also listed as Threatened under the ESA. In 2009, NMFS designated critical habitat for green sturgeon in the entire Yuba River and suggested that the Yuba River above Daguerre Point Dam may provide the best opportunity to re-establish a second spawning population for these fish in the Central Valley. It is believed that no more than 100 fish spawn in the Central Valley annually and all within one reach of the Sacramento River. Daguerre Point Dam is a complete barrier to green sturgeon.