It’s been a great year for coho in the Lagunitas Creek watershed and it continues to be great for steelhead. The coho spawning season typically runs from November through January, and this year’s run is ending on schedule. Only nine spawned-out coho were seen last week and no coho were seen this week. For the season, surveyors from the Marin Municipal Water District, Watershed Stewards Program, National Park Service, and the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network counted 324 coho redds, making this the sixth-largest run since systematic surveys began in 1996. This run was 10% larger than their parent’s generation, 70% larger than their grandparent’s, and 400% larger than the run of their great-grandparents (back in 2009-10). Such sustained generational growth is a very hopeful sign for the population.
The steelhead run continues to be on track to be one of the largest on record. So far we’ve counted 65 steelhead redds, which is a record for the end of January. February is peak spawning time and we’re hoping that this weekend’s rain will encourage a lot of spawning activity. Spotting these fish isn’t easy, as the photo below shows. Even though they can be up to three feet long, they’re cryptic, prefer to spawn in fast water, and don’t stay on their redds very long. Your best bet for catching a glimpse of one is as they jump or swim through shallow water. If you’re a local, check out the Inkwells at the mouth of San Geronimo Creek on Sunday, when flows should be receding.