by Eric Ettlinger
The latest spawner surveys in Lagunitas Creek have produced a mixture of good news and not-so-good news. First, the good news: The rain that soaked our area ten days ago raised stream flows enough to allow fish to swim upstream into the tributaries of San Geronimo Creek and Devil’s Gulch, where they haven’t been seen since 2007-08. Six coho redds have been counted in San Geronimo Creek, and two have been seen in Devil’s Gulch. Coho spawning has also been observed throughout Lagunitas Creek, including at the Leo T. Cronin Fish Viewing Area, where many people have been able to watch the unfolding drama of redd construction and spawning rivalry.
In other good news, more coho salmon and redds have been seen to date than were seen during all of last year’s spawner season. MMWD biologists have documented 48 coho salmon and 36 coho redds so far this year. Only 43 coho and 26 redds were seen last year. It’s a relief that we won’t have a repeat of last season’s exceptionally poor coho run.
So now for the not-so-good news. Over the last 15 spawning seasons the coho run has typically been half over by this point in December, with an average of nearly 100 coho redds documented. This year we are on pace to have less than 100 redds for the whole season, which would be one of the smallest coho runs documented in the watershed. But before I start sounding like a nattering nabob of negativism, I should point out that coho typically spawn through January, and there’s still plenty of time for another big pulse of fish to swim upstream. In fact, coho spawning has peaked during January in five of the last 15 seasons. So for now let’s just hope for more rain and a lot more fish.