Releasing MBST Reared Steelhead

In 2000 Monterey Bay Salmon Trout (MBST) took several adult steelhead from the trap portion of the CRSA built ladder and trap at Los Padres Dam to breed and then stock the offspring as smolts in the Arroyo Seco River. The fish were artificially spawned at the MBST hatchery at Big Creek in Santa Cruz, then as fingerlings transferred to a pond in Salinas for rearing. That was the year National Marine Fisheries Service decided there should be no transfer of fish from one watershed to another so the smolts could not be released into the Arroyo Seco and the Carmel River benefited from the effort.

MBST contacted CRSA and asked for volunteers to help stock the fish in the Carmel River, which CRSA responded to with volunteers. Between 3-24 and 3-31-2001 a total of 17,714 adipose fin smolts were released at four locations: Garland Park, Carmel Valley Trail and Saddle Club, Boronda Bridge and Red Rock (behind mid-valley shopping center).

Unfortunately there is no definitive record as to how these fish helped the adult numbers on the Carmel River, but records of fish passing over San Clemente Dam show only 405 fish in 1999 and 472 in 2000.  There were 804 in 2001, 662 in 2002 and 483 in 2003. It is not likely that the increase in 2001 was because of the smolt planting, but it is feasible that some could have come back as two year olds.