2020 Fish Count


Posted June 12, 2020
We’re sad to announce that the Annual Smith Fish Count cannot be safely held this year due to precautions necessary to keep participants healthy.  As we continue to evaluate ongoing conditions and precautionary measures regarding COVID-19, it is possible that we might have a limited survey of the South Fork of the Smith, to prevent a gap in the data set. We have determined that IF a smaller count is coordinated, we can only consider including individuals who:
  1. Have their own equipment
  2. Have experience with fish ID
  3. Have participated in the Smith Count in recent years (2018 or 2019)
  4. Reside in Del Norte or Humboldt Counties
We’re still working to fully form what this smaller data collection effort would entail. We don’t know if camping will be allowed at Rock Creek Ranch and don’t anticipate having any food/kitchen gatherings. As we work to refine ideas, please notify Marisa (marisa@smithriveralliance.org) if you meet the four requirements listed above and are interested. Based on the feedback we receive we’ll continue to evaluate IF and how we will coordinate a survey.

South Fork Smith River – July 31 to August 2, 2020

The Smith River Alliance invites all swimmers and wild fish enthusiasts to participate in this year’s Fish Count, July 31 – August 2. Help track the abundance of California’s healthiest population of coastal cutthroat trout! We will also be on the lookout for the rare summer steelhead and spring Chinook salmon, as well as suckers, rainbow trout, lamprey, and herps. Snorkeling within the canyon walls and clear blue waters of the Smith River, volunteers will experience wild fish in their native habitat.

This event contributes to annual monitoring of summer adult populations in the Smith River. Training and leadership will be provided. Data collection is coordinated with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service.

Training and coordination will take place at Rock Creek Ranch, ideally situated on the South Fork Smith River. Camping is available to participants beginning the afternoon of Friday, July 31 and ending the morning of Sunday, August 2. The nearest motel and store are located in Hiouchi, 10 miles away.

Volunteers are needed for surveys, kitchen prep/cleanup, and shuttles. Novices are welcome but must have strong open water skills! Children are welcome, but only good swimmers older than 18 may participate in the count. Please leave your pets at home.


Friday, July 31, 2020

An “entry-level” river snorkeling and fish identification workshop will be held on Friday from 1:00-5:00 pm. This training is fun and is REQUIRED for all new participants who want to collect data on Saturday. Experienced fish snorkelers are encouraged to help with the workshop and improve their skills. Participants will receive fish ID, protocol, and survey technique materials to review prior to the event. Participants are welcome to arrive any time after 12:00 to get acquainted with the Ranch and set up camp.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

8:00 am – Breakfast and Check-In
8:30 am – Instructions and Team Assignments
8:45 am – Safety and Equipment checks
9:15 am – Depart Rock Creek Ranch in carpools
5:00 pm – All data and equipment returned
6:00 pm – Potluck begins

What to Bring

Mask and snorkel, full body wetsuit (5m is best), dive hood, gloves, booties, and closed-toed river shoes or wading boots. SRA has a gear cache to supplement volunteer needs, and materials can also be rented in Crescent City or Arcata.

Small durable pack with lunch, water bottle, and sunscreen. Bring camping gear, plus, musical instruments, stories, and talents for the campfire!

Bring high energy snacks, potluck items for Friday and Saturday, and lunch for each day. BYOB/ice. A full kitchen and BBQ will be available each day. The Hiouchi Hamlet (~25 minutes away) is the closest store so come prepared.


From Hwy 199 turn onto South Fork Rd. After crossing the South Fork turn left (upriver/east) onto South Fork Rd. Continue for 7.9 miles. Rock Creek Ranch is located on the left side of the road after Oak St., Pine St., and Fir St. The driveway will be marketed.


You must RSVP to Attend!  Contact Marisa Parish Hanson @ marisa@smithriveralliance.org

Special Notes

Pacific Outfitters in Arcata/Eureka has offered a group discount to divers with our group. Please let them know you are with the Smith River Alliance.

Like us on Facebook, too! More information and details will be provided to confirmed divers as we get closer. Volunteers are needed for surveys, kitchen prep/cleanup, and shuttles. Novices are welcome but must have strong open water skills!

See you in the water!

Instructional Video