January 5, 2012
Megan Isadore, Super volunteer
I just got back from the creek and saw 6 spawners all in the vicinity of Irving Bridge.
DOWNSTREAM of the bridge, there's a female on a redd at the second riffle. This is the riffle that is just downstream of the large boulder on the far bank.
UPSTREAM of the bridge, there was a female working a redd close to the near bank. You'll see it from behind the bathroom building. I watched a jack nose up behind her and attempt to nestle himself in beside her, but she was having none of it. She turned and thrashed him away, even chasing him downstream. I've often seen that with females and big males, not so much with jacks. There's a theory that coho females aren't disturbed by jack behavior the way they can be by large males, but evidently she disagreed.
Further upstream, at the very end of the paved area, if you stand on the paved part just in front of the 5 short upright wooden posts and look across to the far bank, there's another redd with a female and two males on it this afternoon. One of the males is smallish, the same size as the female, and the other is larger but worn, with white fungus on his dorsal fin and back. It was a joy to see them lined up behind her.
All the redds are marked with orange and yellow flags. They're hard to miss. There are now 4 or 5 redds between the entrance to Taylor Park and the beginning of North Creek Trail.
Good luck out there, Megan
January 5, 2012
Jonathan Appelbaum, SPAWN
Dear Friends and Naturalists,
There are now 20 new coho redds and 84 live coho in Lagunitas Creek! Almost all of these fish are actively spawning. There are two redds with spawners on them right outside our office! Come over for a visit to see them yourself!
As you know, the 2011-2012 season to date has been very dry and as a result, there has been very little to report, until recently, of salmon spawning in Lagunitas Creek. December was the third driest on record, going back to 1849, and stream flows have been flat since the end of November. The lack of rain has prevented coho from getting up into the tributaries and some coho have been holding at Samuel P. Taylor State park for the last five weeks! MMWD has just begun releasing more water out of Kent Lake into Lagunitas Creek to attract coho upstream to spawn.
To date 55 coho redds and 215 live coho have been observed. Some of these fish were likely counted multiple times, so the actual number of fish may be closer to 150. The coho spawning season is typically 80% complete by early January, although the peak of spawning has occurred later in some years. Hopefully this is one of those years, when late rains arrive just in time to allow a lot more salmon to swim up into the tributaries and spawn.
We need more rain to bring them up to San Geronimo Valley! PLEASE let us know if you hear any rumors of spawning occurring up there, as the current team is not planning to survey the SGV's creeks until after more rains.
This year's cohort was feared to be completely blinked out this year, being lowest of the three cohorts for recent returns. From a historical perspective, the total of 55 redds in the watershed for the season to date is dismal, but with some more spawning will be better than what this cohort did three years ago. The situation improved this week when MMWD released a three-day "Upstream Migration Flow" from Kent Lake which increased stream flows from 20 cubic feet per second (CFS) to 35 CFS. The original goal of these releases was to provide enough depth for salmon to migrate upstream, however in the last 14 years few fish have been observed to take advantage of the flows during these releases.
Because of these recent observations, right now is the best time to lead a CreekWalk! Due to high interest from fish enthusiasts wanting to learn about the Lagunitas Creek coho, we are extending the 2011-2012 CreekWalks program through the end of January. We are seeking Naturalists to lead additional CreekWalks after this weekend's scheduled CreekWalks. In particular, the following weekend (January 14-16) is a holiday weekend and a terrific opportunity to hold well-attended CreekWalks. The Lagunitas Creek coho remain active in spite of the lack of major precipitation and as recent observations support, fish sightings remain fairly consistent. Please let me know if you would be interested in leading CreekWalks on any of the next three weekends (January 14-16, 21-22, and 28-29) and I will work with you to set everything up.
December 18, 2011
Todd Steiner, SPAWN
Today I co-led a fantastic Creekwalk with 3 groups totaling almost 50 people. We split up into small groups along the creek, with a trained Naturalist joining each group, and everyone saw coho and redds. A good time was had by all!
Because we haven't had any significant rain for a few weeks, the coho we saw were holding in a pool in the campground area of Samuel P Taylor State Park. Last week, MMWD staff saw 22 coho in this pool! We saw about 10, including hook-nosed red males, females and what seems like a high number of "jacks." Jacks are male coho that have returned to spawn after only 6-8 months in the ocean, meaning they are much smaller than the more mature hook-nosed males. There was also a very big redd under the bridge into the campground that is best seen from just upstream of the bridge. This redd may represent the work of more than one female, judging by its enormous size.
We also saw a carcass in Bike Hike Pool (visible from this pedestrian bridge) and a few jacks swimming around in this pool. Additionally, there were tiny little redwood seeds falling onto the parking area and picnic tables that I carefully gathered for our Native Plant Nurseries. People are always amazed to see these tiny seeds and imagine how they will soon grow to be the giant trees we all love and that the endangered coho salmon depend on.
So there are fish and redds to be seen... and the best place seems to be between Irving Bridge and the campground in Samuel P Taylor State Park. The Park is completly closed most weekdays, so be sure to register for a Creekwalk on the weekends to gain access!
November 19, 2011
By Chris Pincetich, SPAWN
It was my pleasure to lead the first SPAWN Creekwalk of the 2011-2012 coho salmon spawning season, and share coho stories with three troops of Girl Scouts and their families! Nothing is more satisfying to me than teaching children the wonderful story of our endangered coho salmon in Lagunitas Creek and connecting them with ways they can take action to help them.
Rain the evening before brought high hopes that coho would be jumping the Inkwells and spawning in Lagunitas Creek. Our group arrived at the Leo Cronin viewing area bathed in sunshine. The early overnight rains had soaked into the lush redwood forest floor but creek levels had barely risen. In the un-developed forest upstream of the permeable pavement parking lot, rainfall is filtered by the intact soil reaching the creek clear enough to see the gravel that will soon be incubating the next generation of coho.
"There's a fish!" echoed across the trail. This is what we came to see! Girls young and old, and all the rest of us, crept up to the bank to peer into a deep pool surrounded by logs. There, darting in and out of the sunlight, was a steelhead almost a foot long. While not the magnificent coho we were hoping to see, this young salmon, who is likely living in this pool throughout the year, was a joy to discover.
On our walk back, we spotted over six species of mushrooms that had freshly sprouted, identified many species of trees and shrubs native to Lagunitas Creek, and I shared many stories about the life history and conservation challenges of our endangered coho salmon. A new generation of salmon conservation activists was born!
After each individual Girl Scout correctly answered a question I asked about coho salmon, I has the pleasure of awarding them their "Save the Salmon" merit badge. I think I was just as proud as they were!