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Chapter 5 -- Anadromous Salmonids and Their Habitats

Fish Assemblages and Their Distribution

The Smith River fisheries are classified as part of the Klamath-Rogue Ichthyoprovince. Salmonids are the dominant fishes throughout the Smith River watershed (McCain et al. 1995) with the exception of the estuary. The fish assemblage in the estuary is very diverse and includes many marine species and almost all freshwater fish species of the Smith River (Table 27). The species composition in the estuary varies daily, diurnally, and seasonally due to changing tides, river discharge, and other factors (McCain et al. 1995). Although the Smith River estuary has not been well studied, research in other estuaries suggests that many marine and riverine species depend on estuary habitat for part of their life cycle. Several species of marine invertebrates are also found in the estuary (Monroe et al. 1975).

 

Table 27. Fish species inhabiting the Smith River including the estuary (Monroe et al. 1975, Mizuno 1997, Waldvogel personal communication 1997).

Common name

Scientific name

Anadromous

Saltwater

Freshwater

Steelhead

Oncorhynchus mykiss

X

   

Chinook salmon

Oncorhynchus tshawytscha

X

   

Coho salmon

Oncorhynchus kisutch

X

   

Chum salmon

Oncorhynchus keta

X

   

Sockeye salmon

Oncorhynchus nerka

X

   

Coastal cutthroat trout

Oncorhynchus clarki clarki

X

   

Coastrange sculpin*

Cottus aleuticus

   

X

Prickly sculpin

Cottus asper

   

X

Pacific staghorn sculpin

Leptocottus armatus

 

X

 

Sharpnose sculpin

Clinocottus acuticeps

 

?

?

Green sturgeon

Acipenser medirostris

X

   

White sturgeon

Acipenser sp.

X

   

Klamath smallscale sucker

Catastomus rimiculus

   

X

Pacific lamprey

Entosphenus tridentatus

X

   

Brook lamprey

Lampreta spp.

?

?

?

Bay pipefish

Synagnaythus leptorhynchus

 

X

 

Threespine stickleback

Gasterosteus aculeatus

 

X

X

Tidewater goby

Eucyclogobius newberryi

 

X

 

Saddleback gunnel

Pholis ornata

 

X

 

Surf smelt

Hypomesus pretiosus

 

X

 

Topsmelt

Atherinops affinis

 

X

 

Jacksmelt

Atherinopsis californiensis

 

X

 

Eulachon

Thalichthys pacificus

 

X

 

Pacific herring

Clupea harengus pallasi

 

X

 

Northern anchovy

Engraulis mordax

 

X

 

English sole

Pleuronectes vetulus

 

X

 

Sand sole

Psettichthys melanoctictus

 

X

 

Starry flounder

Platichythys stellatus

 

X

 

Black rockfish

Sabastea melanops (spelling?)

 

X

 

American shad

Alosa sapidissima

X

   

Redtail surfperch

Amphistichus rhodoterus

 

X

 

Shiner surfperch

Cymatogaster aggregata

 

X

 

Striped surfperch

Embiotoca lateralis

 

X

 

* not found in the estuary

       

 

The fish assemblage of the lower Smith River occurs above the area of tidal influence and below the confluence of the South and Middle Forks. This assemblage includes steelhead, chinook, coho, coastal cutthroat, green sturgeon, Klamath smallscale sucker, coastrange sculpin, prickly sculpin, threespine stickleback, Pacific lamprey, and Pacific staghorn sculpin.

The fish assemblage upstream from the confluence of the South and Middle Forks includes the same species as the lower river assemblage. However, the upper river assemblage has smaller numbers of some species including coastrange sculpin, prickly sculpin, Klamath smallscale sucker, and green sturgeon. The reduced presence of these species is probably due to rapid changes in stream flow in upstream areas which causes slow-swimming species to be swept downstream (McCain et al. 1995).

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