For Immediate Release, December 7, 2020

Contact: Preston Brown, Director of Watershed Conservation, 303-877-0880

Salmon Spawning Season in Marin County Starts Late

OLEMA, Calif. — The salmon spawning season in Marin County’s Lagunitas Creek—where the largest run of critically endangered coho salmon in the Central California Coast are found—is off to a late start. So far, SPAWN has spotted only a few coho salmon, as this season is delayed due to a lack of rain.

Coho salmon are an anadromous species, meaning they migrate from the ocean to their freshwater natal streams to spawn, or build nests (called redds). As a female discharges her eggs into the redd, a male fertilizes them. All coho die after spawning—the dead and dying fish are a valuable source of nutrients for plants, insects, birds and mammals, and are a vital component to the structure of this fascinating ecosystem.

The largest run of coho salmon in the Central California Coast are found in Lagunitas Creek. Salmon and steelhead spawn in Lagunitas Creek, San Geronimo Creek, Olema Creek, and several other tributaries. Coho are typically sighted from November to February, with spawning normally peaking in December and January in the Lagunitas Creek Watershed. Steelhead trout spawn later, usually between January through March.

Looking for spawning salmon is a fun way to stay safe from COVID this winter and experience one of Marin County’s most magnificent natural phenomena! Due to restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, SPAWN is unable to offer Creekwalk Tours this winter. Although we are saddened to pause our beloved winter tradition, we are happy to share where you can see salmon spawn in Marin County California.

This year we are expecting an above-average amount of fish returning with anywhere from 300-700 fish, with the average being 500. We hope to see rain in the forecast to bring these fish home!

This male coho salmon was spotted in the Lagunitas Creek Watershed on Nov. 24. Photo by Marin Municipal Water District