by Eric Ettlinger, MMWD Aquatic Ecologist
Rain and salmon have arrived early in the Lagunitas Creek watershed! So far this year we’ve received over ten inches of rain, with the first major storm of the season hitting on October 25.
The first spawner of the season, a Chinook (a.k.a. “king”) salmon, was seen migrating on October 27. Since then Chinook salmon have been seen throughout Lagunitas Creek and as far upstream as the town of San Geronimo.
Chinook don’t show up in Lagunitas Creek every year and are more commonly found farther north and in larger rivers. As of November 17, we’ve counted 21 Chinook redds (gravel nests), which is already the most seen in over a decade.
Some of these fish were likely part of the large smolt emigration in 2015, but we’ve also seen a couple of fish lacking adipose fins – a sign that they started their lives in a hatchery. California Department of Fish and Wildlife staff are currently surveying Lagunitas Creek to find some of these Chinook carcasses and determine their origins.
In addition to Chinook salmon, a few coho have also been detected, including a couple counted by MMWD’s PIT tag antenna near Point Reyes Station. It’s still early in the season for coho, but the rain forecast for this weekend will hopefully encourage more coho to migrate upstream and spawn.
| "No one will see me in this great hiding spot." - Chinook