Along with the California Beach Fishermen's Association and H.T. Harvey and Associates, the Project received a small grant from Collaborative Fisheries Research West to study the night smelt population in Humboldt and Del Norte counties in 2014. Working with several commercial night smelt fishermen, we were able to obtain monthly regional fish samples across the entire north coast region in an effort to better understand aspects of night smelt life history. Additionally, we documented fish species commonly caught as bycatch while targeting night smelt in an effort to examine potential ecosystem impacts of the fishery.
Results from this one-year study were successful in improving our base of knowledge for night smelt. The population is clearly dominated by larger male fish; however, further research is needed to resolve several outstanding questions concerning the life history of this species. In observing commercial fishing activity, we documented relatively little bycatch in the fishery overall, and that the primary bycatch species were redtail surfperch (Amphistichus rhodoterus) and Pacific mole crab (Emerita analoga), the majority of which were released in live condition.
For detailed results from the collaborative smelt study, find the full technical report here:
Collaborative Research on the Spawning Population of Night Smelt (Spirinchus starksi) in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, California (PDF)
April 15, 2015