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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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Dec 21

Coho Ho! Merry Kisutch!

Posted on December 21, 2018 at 9:07 AM by Ann Vallee

Written by: Eric Ettlinger, Aquatic Ecologist

It’s been a VERY BUSY week on Lagunitas Creek. The rain we received over the weekend was just what was needed to get the salmon moving upstream and spawning. I didn’t get to see fish jumping myself, but I’ve heard from a number of folks that the Inkwells were hopping on Sunday. The timing of the rain was also convenient for folks who wanted to spend their Sunday watching fish fight at the Leo T. Cronin Fish Viewing Area.

So here are the numbers. This week we counted 212 coho salmon in the three streams we survey: Lagunitas Creek, San Geronimo Creek, and Devil’s Gulch. That’s the most fish seen in a single week since 2006! In San Geronimo Creek we counted 75 coho and in Devil’s Gulch (which if you haven’t seen it, is a tiny little stream) we counted 52. The photo below of two male coho salmon (courtesy of Martha Ture) was taken in Devil’s Gulch on Monday. This week we also counted 66 new coho salmon redds (gravel nests), bringing our season total to 102. That’s still slightly below average for this time of year, but many of the fish we saw this week hadn’t yet spawned, so we can expect our redd count to increase over the next few weeks.

We’ve also counted ten steelhead to date, which may not seem impressive but is actually the most seen at this time of year since 2001. We typically see only a small fraction of the steelhead in the creek because they’re fairly cryptic and don’t spend much time on their redds. We suspect there are a lot more steelhead already in the creek because we’re seeing quite a few small but deep redds, which is typical of steelhead. We’re fairly confident that six of these redds were built by steelhead, but haven’t classified the others mostly because it’s just SO early for steelhead to be spawning. Is this the start of a record steelhead run? We’ll have to wait and see.

Happy Holidays!

spawner update


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