As 2017 came to a close the coho run was on track to be the smallest on record, with a shockingly low count of 17 coho redds seen in Lagunitas Creek. I comforted myself that December was exceptionally dry and spawning was sure to ramp up once the rains arrived. Also, we’d observed an additional 47 redds that we didn’t classify because we were seeing pink, chum, Chinook, and coho spawning AT THE SAME TIME. Many of those redds were likely built by coho. Maybe things weren’t as bad as they seemed.
So it’s with great relief that I can report that with this week’s storm (which dropped six inches of rain), the coho have arrived. Spawning activity at the Leo T. Cronin Fish Viewing Area was intense on Wednesday, with large males fighting over females, females fighting for space, and large numbers of jacks (young male salmon) fleeing the large males and fighting with each other.
Local photographer Richard James has posted some photos and videos of the action. Coho are currently spawning in Devil’s Gulch and San Geronimo Creek as well, and we’ll survey Lagunitas Creek today and tomorrow. It’s likely that when all streams have been surveyed our count will exceed 100 coho redds, which would still be below average but no longer disastrous.
A few steelhead were also seen this week and their numbers are expected to increase into February.
Finally, check out this compilation of video clips of coho jumping at the Inkwells (mostly unsuccessfully), courtesy of SPAWN. These all appear to be coho, and the smaller fish are jacks.