Carmel River Fishery Report for August 2018

See below for the Carmel River Fishery Report, conducted by the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District

Prepared By: Beverly Chaney

AQUATIC HABITAT AND FLOW CONDITIONS:  Releases from Los Padres Reservoir were reduced again in August from 8.3 to 7.0 cubic-feet-per-second (cfs) to maintain storage as the inflow continued to drop to summer levels. Portions of the lower river between Meadows Road and the lower end of the Rancho Cañada reach, dried up this month, while additional sections below Schulte Bridge became transitional. A short section in the DeDampierre reach also became transitional. Fish rescues that were started in late June were continued this month (see details below) as rearing conditions for juvenile steelhead remained “poor” below the narrows.  All lower valley tributaries are dry at the confluence.

Mean daily streamflow at the Sleepy Hollow Weir dropped from 7.5 to 5.5 cfs (monthly mean 6.3 cfs) resulting in 389 acre-feet (AF) of runoff, while mean daily streamflow at the Highway 1 gage dropped from 0.36 to 0.00 cfs (monthly mean 0.09 cfs), resulting in 5.7 AF of runoff.

There were 0.00 inches of rainfall in August as recorded at Cal-Am’s San Clemente gauge. The rainfall total for WY 2018 (which started on October 1, 2017) is 13.52 inches, or 64% of the long-term year-to-date average of 21.11 inches. 

CARMEL RIVER LAGOON:  The lagoon mouth is now closed for the summer and the water surface level continued to drop from ~6.9 to 5.9 feet above mean-sea-level (see graph below).

Water quality depth-profiles were conducted at five sites on August 10 while the lagoon was closed and the river inflow was 0.22 cfs. Steelhead rearing conditions at all sites were generally “fair” with low salinity (1-2 ppt), temperature ranging from 67-71 degrees F, and dissolved oxygen (DO) levels of 2-13 mg/l.


Mainstem Carmel River Steelhead Rescues - Staff began mainstem rescues on June 25th at the Highway 1 Bridge. In August, Staff completed 9 days of rescues up to Schulte Road and the lower portion of the DeDampierre reach.

As of August 31, 2,721 fish have been rescued including: 1,360 YOY, 1,346 1+, 14 mortalities (0.5%), 2,210 fish were tagged, and there were 16 recaptures of previously tagged fish.

Tagging – Rescued fish larger than 65 mm are now being tagged with Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags. District staff is currently operating four PIT tag arrays (tag number readers) on the Carmel River in a partnership between the District and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Data is being collected for future analysis and reporting.

Juvenile Steelhead Fall Population Surveys – The District and NMFS are partnering up for a third year of an expanded steelhead population survey program that covers more sites over a larger portion of the watershed while PIT tagging additional fish. Results will be described in the future reports. 

SLEEPY HOLLOW STEELHEAD REARING FACILITY: General contractor Mercer-Fraser Company of Eureka, CA, has been hired for the Intake Upgrade Project and is scheduled to start construction later this fall on the $2 million project. The main features of the project include installing a new intake structure that can withstand flood and drought conditions as well as the increased bedload from the San Clemente Dam removal project two years ago, and a new Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) that can be operated in times of poor river water quality to keep the fish healthy.