January 2012 Coho Update

By January 5, 2012Uncategorized

Dear Friends and Naturalists,
There are now 20 new coho redds and 84 live coho in Lagunitas Creek! Almost all of these fish are actively spawning. There are two redds with spawners on them right outside our office! Come over for a visit to see them yourself!

As you know, the 2011-2012 season to date has been very dry and as a result, there has been very little to report, until recently, of salmon spawning in Lagunitas Creek. December was the third driest on record, going back to 1849, and stream flows have been flat since the end of November. The lack of rain has prevented coho from getting up into the tributaries and some coho have been holding at Samuel P. Taylor State park for the last five weeks! MMWD has just begun releasing more water out of Kent Lake into Lagunitas Creek to attract coho upstream to spawn.

To date 55 coho redds and 215 live coho have been observed. Some of these fish were likely counted multiple times, so the actual number of fish may be closer to 150. The coho spawning season is typically 80% complete by early January, although the peak of spawning has occurred later in some years. Hopefully this is one of those years, when late rains arrive just in time to allow a lot more salmon to swim up into the tributaries and spawn.

We need more rain to bring them up to San Geronimo Valley! PLEASE let us know if you hear any rumors of spawning occurring up there, as the current team is not planning to survey the SGV’s creeks until after more rains.

This year’s cohort was feared to be completely blinked out this year, being lowest of the three cohorts for recent returns. From a historical perspective, the total of 55 redds in the watershed for the season to date is dismal, but with some more spawning will be better than what this cohort did three years ago. The situation improved this week when MMWD released a three-day “Upstream Migration Flow” from Kent Lake which increased stream flows from 20 cubic feet per second (CFS) to 35 CFS. The original goal of these releases was to provide enough depth for salmon to migrate upstream, however in the last 14 years few fish have been observed to take advantage of the flows during these releases.

Because of these recent observations, right now is the best time to lead a CreekWalk! Due to high interest from fish enthusiasts wanting to learn about the Lagunitas Creek coho, we are extending the 2011-2012 CreekWalks program through the end of January. We are seeking Naturalists to lead additional CreekWalks after this weekend’s scheduled CreekWalks. In particular, the following weekend (January 14-16) is a holiday weekend and a terrific opportunity to hold well-attended CreekWalks. The Lagunitas Creek coho remain active in spite of the lack of major precipitation and as recent observations support, fish sightings remain fairly consistent. Please let me know if you would be interested in leading CreekWalks on any of the next three weekends (January 14-16, 21-22, and 28-29) and I will work with you to set everything up.