by Eric Ettlinger
November was a surprisingly good month for coho spawning in the Lagunitas Creek watershed, but we haven’t had any significant rain since Thanksgiving and spawning activity has slowed. Only three new coho redds were seen last week and only one was seen this week. This is typically the peak time for coho spawning, and we’re expecting to see a lot of it once we get some rain. We haven’t seen much redd construction lately but this week we observed 27 coho, mostly holding in pools and waiting for some rain.
In one small pool adjacent to the Samuel P. Taylor campground we saw 22 coho spawners. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen that many spawners in one place. Their choice in pools was less than ideal, unfortunately, since it was also where State Park staff were planning to drop a large Douglas-fir. The 100-foot tree was diseased and dangerous, and park staff collaborated with MMWD to drop it into Lagunitas Creek for fish habitat. But just as the cutting got started we saw the large school of coho beneath the tree and quickly decided to fell the tree away from them. It’s a little ironic that a tree intended to provide a home for next year’s juvenile coho could have killed some of their parents. State Park and MMWD staff are now discussing how to push the large log into the creek, in a spawner-free location.