Mid-December is often peak spawning time for Coho Salmon in the Lagunitas Creek watershed, depending on the timing of rain. This month’s frequent (almost unrelenting) rain has given the salmon ample opportunity to migrate upstream and spawn. On the flip side, the rain has provided us biologists with few opportunities to get in the creeks and count fish and redds. Despite fast, muddy flows, over the last week we covered the three main spawning streams in the watershed: Lagunitas Creek, San Geronimo Creek, and Devil’s Gulch. Over two days we counted 195 Coho Salmon and 67 redds! In Devil’s Gulch, by far the smallest of these streams, we observed an amazing 84 Coho and 21 redds. We seem to be witnessing a large Coho run, but we’ll have to wait until next month to see how many fish continue to spawn after their December peak.
Whether the run tapers off quickly or not, the public is being treated to some of the best salmon viewing in years. Lots of Coho have been spawning in accessible locations like Devil’s Gulch and the Leo T. Cronin Fish Viewing Area. In tiny Dog Creek, near the Fish Viewing Area, some lucky families and I stood a few dozen feet from two exceptionally bright red fish fighting in shallow water. Those kids are unlikely to forget that experience.
- Eric Ettlinger, Aquatic Ecologist at Marin Water
Image: Male Coho Salmon fighting in Dog Creek, December 21, 2021.