Friday June 23, 2023


In the Eel River watershed, CalTrout has taken on a series of restoration projects that make up a string of pearls between the headwaters and the estuary of the Eel. As a part of our North Coast Science and Monitoring Program, CalTrout recently acquired funding to trial a pikeminnow mitigation program for the first time in the Eel River basin! While pikeminnows are native to California, they are not native to the Eel River and other coastal systems. In the past half a century they have become a significant threat to salmonid recovery. Pikeminnow eat just about anything when they get big enough including salmon and steelhead. And they don’t just predate on the small ones — large pikeminnows are capable of eating trout up to 20 inches!

In addition to direct predation, they also compete with salmonids in other ways. Pikeminnows are in direct competition for related food sources that juvenile salmon and steelhead would eat such as insects. Plus, the presence of pikeminnow can change salmonid behavior in different stages of their life histories. They can determine which sections of river or even which specific pools young salmonids can occupy or must avoid. In the past several decades that means much of the lower mainstem of the Eel River has been off limits to many salmonids for most of the spring, summer, and fall.

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