Wildlife

The Stanislaus River is home to a wide variety of plant and wildlife that is unique to the area. From beautiful towering trees, to river otter to many species of fish, the Stanislaus is a great place to appreciate the outdoors right in the Central Valley.

When traveling up and down the Stanislaus River, you will encounter multiple species of oak (such as the valley oak and California black oak) and willow on the banks as well as aquatic plant life in the form of cattails, horsetails, and various water ferns. The riparian environment allows for the propagation of plant life not seen anywhere else in the Central Valley. A full list of species on the Stanislaus can be found here.

Mammalian life on the Stanislaus River flourishes as well, and a wide array of animals coexist in the Stanislaus River environment. On the river, sightings of deer, river otter, squirrel, rabbit, and fox are possible, although a certain level of luck (and quietness!) is needed in order to spot some of the more uncommon animals. Sightings of birdlife are very common, and a variety of species can be seen from both the water and the shore. Great blue heron and white egret sightings are everyday occurrences, as are sightings of falcons, kingfishers, turkey vultures, and cliff swallows. More patient bird watchers can find species of owl, hawk, and (rarely) eagles.

A point of focus on the Stanislaus River is the fish life that flourishes underneath the water. Special steps have been taken in recent years to restore fish levels to those seen in the mid 1900’s, with most of the effort being aimed at restoring Chinook salmon levels. While levels of Chinook Salmon have fallen to, by some accounts, around 10% of original levels, viewers can see the salmon spawn every year around November from the bridges in Knights Ferry.

Other species of fish frequenting the river include steelhead trout, stripped bass (some in excess of 30 lbs!), small bass, chad, rainbow trout, black crappie, and white catfish. While fishing on the Stanislaus is fairly common, there are a number of regulations that any angler should be aware of. More information about fishing regulations can be found on our recreational fishing page.

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