Broodstock Collection of Chinook Salmon and Steelhead from the Smith River

The Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery (RCFH), in partnership with the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation (TDN), completed two mainstem Smith River Chinook Salmon broodstock collection events October 21st and October 28th. Broodstock are the adult fish collected from the wild and spawned in the hatchery to provide the facility with eggs that are hatched and reared for release. TDN and RCFH staff deployed a 300-foot seine net, designed with 2” mesh to prevent fish entanglement and equipped with a lead and float line to keep the net upright in the river. The net is deployed by boat near the river bank and stretched across the channel, and then downstream to encircle fish and is gently pulled toward shore by staff. Fish remain in the net until they are removed by staff, each fish is identified to species and sex and then checked for an adipose clip to determine whether the fish is of wild or hatchery origin. Fish are then released unless selected for hatchery broodstock.

On Friday, October 21st, the seine was deployed by staff just upstream of the Water Tower, temporarily
capturing a total of 207 Chinook Salmon in one set of the net. Of the 207 Chinook captured, sixteen were selected for use as hatchery broodstock and were transported by live-well trailer to Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery, where they will be held until ready to spawn. During the second event on Friday, October 28th, 315 Chinook were captured in two sets of the seine net at the same location and a total of 21 adults were selected for hatchery broodstock and transported to RCFH.

The hatchery has previously obtained broodstock by trapping fish migrating up Rowdy Creek using the facility’s trap and fish ladder. This means that for decades, only Chinook and steelhead migrating up Rowdy and Dominie Creeks have been used to breed fish at the hatchery—and that the year’s production is determined by how many fish are captured at the trap. Propagating broodstock collected from the mainstem Smith River will allow TDN and the hatchery to produce more, and higher-quality, fish with genetic diversity more representative of the whole watershed. This same technique is used by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to collect broodstock from the Chetco River.

RCFH and TDN are also working to improve broodstock collection for wild steelhead this winter. Steelhead will be collected from the mainstem Smith River by a small number of volunteer anglers who will donate fish caught by hook-and-line to the hatchery for use as broodstock. This method is also used on the Chetco and the Mad Rivers and will help the hatchery by increasing the number of broodstock available for spawning as well as integrating the genetics of naturally-produced individuals into hatchery production.

Seining for broodstock collection will continue until collection goals are met, or until fall rain creates prohibitive river conditions. Staff will provide updates to the community on progress and public viewing opportunities through the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery Facebook page. Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery is a non-profit organization and relies on community fundraising to operate—please support Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery’s ongoing operation and efforts to increase production at the facility by attending the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery Annual Fundraiser Dinner and Auction on November 12 at the Lucky 7 Tolowa Event Center—tickets are available at!

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The spawning of adult Chinook salmon has started at the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery. Due to the lack of significant rainfall for most of October and November, the adults began arriving at the hatchery approximately one a month later than normal. The first Chinook were trapped on November 15th and the trap continued to catch salmon through November 20th. The numbers of fish returning to Rowdy Creek so far this season have been lower than average, hopefully, the next rain will bring another pulse of fish. The majority of the fish caught at the hatchery have been jacks, which are male salmon that mature and return to spawn at two years old, while most adult salmon return as three and four-year-olds. Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation
Natural Resources staff have been assisting with trapping, spawning, and collection of scale and genetic samples. The Natural Resources Department with the support of the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation has successfully advocated for the harvest and distribution of spawned fish to Tolowa Dee-ni’ Tribal Citizens. This is the first time in the history of the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery that we will be conducting these activities. The Nation feels that this carcass distribution plan is a step in the right direction and recognizes this as a positive resource management agreement between the Nation and the State of California.

Submitted by Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation Natural Resources Department Fisheries Program 

Jennifer Jacobs, Fisheries Program Manager,

Jesse Nolan, Tribal Resources Specialist,


Renewable Solar Energy at Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery

The Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation, in partnership with the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery, strives to be stewards of the environment while making hatchery operations more efficient and cost-effective.

The Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation recently contracted with Greenwired Renewable Energy Solutions to install a 312-panel solar electric system at the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery. The 113.88kw PV system will offset approximately 75 to 80 percent of current electricity consumption with renewable solar energy and will also provide a significant reduction in the facility’s greenhouse gas emissions. The resulting system will save the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery approximately $21,000 annually in energy costs. Tribal TERO workers participated in co-construction, building TDN’s capacity to maintain the new system and administer future energy projects. This project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery rears and releases Chinook and steelhead into the Smith River each year, supporting fishing opportunities that have annually brought money into the local community. Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery is in operation 365 days each year. Numerous school children visit the hatchery and several of the local schools have developed classroom incubation programs. This technology allows each student with a hands-on opportunity to experience the wonder of nature.

Congrats to the winners!

We would like to say thank you to all of our volunteers, guides, staff, Amber Allison Photography, the Tolowa Dee-Ni’ Nation, and our participants. We had a great weekend with a ton of activity, including, fishing, raffles, an auction, lots of great food and drinks and a great presentation from the Nor Cal guides and sportsman association in witch they presented a 1500 dollar donation to the hatchery. Over all we had a wonderful weekend and raised a ton of money. The exact numbers aren’t in yet. We will post them soon. Congrats to our winners.

In first place we had team number 19.
Kathy Figas, Linda Sundberg and their guide Mick Thomas. Bob Figas, Garth Sundberg and their guide Phil Desautels. They caught 6 fish for a total of 170 inches.

In Second place we had team 10.
Chuck Howard, Darin Bradbury and their guide Rye Philips. Chris Howard, Tom Bessett and their guide Frank Duarte. They caught 5 fish for a total of 130 inches.

In third place we had team number 2.
Eric Sherwood, Kevin Lee and their guide Gary Early. Doug Huckfeldt, Jerry Sax and their guide Jason James. They caught 4 fish for 109 inches.

The top rod ( the most fish caught by a single angler) went to Jerry Sax and guide Jason James. 3 fish totaling 87 inches.

The biggest fish went to angler Marc Scarr and his guide Chris Griffin with a 38 inch Chetco river Stealhead.

We had a total of 34 fish caught. 17 on the Smith and 17 on the Chetco. With a grand total of 950 inches.

We would also like to extend a huge thank you to our Derby coordinator, Kimberlee Nielsen Lindberg Swift. You are awesome and we love you!!!


36th Annual Steelhead Derby 2018

The 36th Annual Steelhead Derby (February 22-24, 2108) is coming upon us quickly!

Guides please confirm if you haven’t all ready done so!

Fisherman…Please, please get your entry forms in early this year for your teams…Earlier the better..

I want to Thank everyone, guides, fisherman, sponsors, and all the helping hands that make this event happen… A BIG thank you for your continued support!


Fall Update

Hey everyone,

There has been a lot of work going on at the hatchery over the spring, summer and early fall. Andy, crew and a group of volunteers successfully clipped, tagged and released nearly 80,000 chinook fingerlings in the late spring. This is a great undertaking as you have to handle each fish and be very precise with the tagging and clipping. I volunteered this year and my hands hurt for days!! Andy and crew have also been maintaining over 40,000 Steelhead juveniles. They require a lot of labor. They are fed 5 times daily, monitored constantly for health issues and kept in the upmost quality of water conditions. With all of this, the crew has kept up with all of the daily maintenance of buildings, yards and equipment.

Currently Andy and crew are trapping Chinook, which has been fairly unsuccessful due to the low water levels we have had this fall. We hope that the weather systems that are forecasted for the next few days will bring some fish into the trap.

As most of you know, February brings our annual fundraising fishing derby. This derby is one of two fundraisers that pay for our labor costs, electricity and fish food. Your participation in this derby will directly effect financial bottom line of the hatchery. It is not to early to get your team signed up. For more information you can personal message this page or call The number listed on this page.

Thank you all so much for your donations of your work and hard earned money. Without you, this all would not be possible. Please remember if you want to get your pick for your guide, get in early!! Thank you all again!

Pictured here is Andy, our hatchery manager looking over the Wier and trap and the holding ponds that are holding the fish we have already trapped.


Clipping and Tagging Salmon

It was a great weekend clipping and tagging Chinook salmon at the hatchery. Everybody’s backs and hands are soar, but getting 10,000 little kings ready for release is worth it. Thank you to all that came and volunteered. We have a lot more to do. If you would like to help out, please let us know.

Contact Us

  • Email
  • Phone
    (707) 487-3443
  • Fax
    (707) 487-4133
  • Address
    (255 N. Fred Haight Dr.)
    PO BOX 328
    SMITH RIVER, CA 95567-0328
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Visit the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery

Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery is in operation 365 days each year. Numerous school children visit the hatchery and several of the local schools have developed classroom incubation programs. This technology allows each student a hands-on opportunity to experience the wonder of nature. You will find fish at the hatchery during the entire year, during the spawning season the activity is greatly increased.

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