The 2010/2011 season is off to a great start. Only October 26, 2010, and already we’ve had more than five inches of rain. Rain swelling the sere land and filling the creeks. Rain washing away the dust of the dry time, refreshing a million shades of green. Rain bringing out scents so bright even human noses notice.
And rain, the ultimate communicator, calling down the line to the waiting coho, pulsing the estuaries with the particular, only-one- place-in-the-world scent of the natal stream.
So as soon as the glorious wet weekend cleared, off I went, hoping to meet the year’s first coho coming home.
I peered into thick, murky soup of SPT’s swimming hole pool. I gazed meditatively at the quieter, clearer waters of the hike and bike pool. I even (optimistically) checked out Leo Cronin, just in case some ambitious female had leapfrogged the holding stage and was already thrashing a redd into shape.
Alas, no sightings yet. I’m not convinced the fish aren’t here — a more patient or more perceptive viewer might have been rewarded — but I saw no fin or tail.
Think I’m jumping the gun? Not according to the records. Though it might seem early, evidently it’s not — in 2004, we saw a posse of 50-60 coho in the hike and bike pool on October 17. In 2009, our first creek sighting was October 21. In 2005 and 2006, we saw salmon on October 29 and 30. And in 2008, otters were seen devouring “a big fish” (chinook?) in SPT on November 3.
Only 2007 was crazy late, with our first sightings delayed past mid- November by a rainless fall.
Luckily, it looks as though we’ve licked that problem this year. The weatherfolk say more rain Thursday. So I bet — fish by the weekend! See you on the creek.