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After several years in a row with below average rainfall during the typical coho spawning period, this year has finally delivered some much needed rain. This year the trick has been figuring out the windows for optimal conditions to conduct surveys. Until this past week, these survey windows have only been one or two days long in between storm events. However, even with short survey windows, we were able to document coho spawning in Olema, Redwood, and Cheda Creeks.
So far, monitoring crews have observed an increase in coho activity on Olema and Cheda Creeks when compared to the last time this cohort returned to spawn in 2012-2013. Cheda Creek, a small tributary to Lagunitas Creek, had five coho redds, eight live coho, five coho carcasses and six redds not determined to species. The largest number of salmon spawning was observed on Olema Creek in which 50 coho redds, 85 live coho, 28 coho carcasses, and 30 redds not determined to species. This is the largest coho spawning run observed in Olema Creek for over a decade.
On Saturday, January 23, NBTU volunteers helped plant willow stakes and build and installing willow fascines to help control erosion of sediment into John West Fork Creek in Point Reyes National Seashore. The control of fine sediment is key to successful spawning of endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead in the creek, a tributary of Olema Creek. Despite the wet and stormy conditions, volunteers helped plant 100 willow stakes and install 56 willow fascines, benefiting John West Fork Creek and about 7 miles of Olema Creek downstream.
Thank you to Jack Barry who organized the volunteers, and to our volunteers, who traveled out to Point Reyes and worked hard on a day of challenging weather!
See below for photos and examples of the work and the effectiveness of willow fascines.
January 15th, 2016 Update
It’s official, in a preliminary, still-need-to-check-our-numbers sort of way…
This year’s coho run is the largest run in nearly a decade! So far this season 269 coho redds have been observed in the watershed, exceeding the total from three years ago. The average going back to 1995 is 250 redds. Plentiful rains have allowed coho to spawn throughout the system, and in fact 2/3 of the spawning this season has occurred in tributary streams. Folks in the San Geronimo Valley haven’t seen this many salmon since the run of 2006.
Surveys this week found 42 new coho redds in Lagunitas Creek, San Geronimo Creek, and Devil’s Gulch. We also saw fewer live fish and a sharp increase in carcasses – a definite sign that the run is coming to an end. Some fresh fish are still making their way upstream, so there’s still time to see some salmon spawning before the run comes to an end later this month.
See the recent history of the watershed's redds here.
First Adult Release December 2015
First Cast 2015
On Sept. 20th, NBTU presented its 15th Annual First Cast Day at the Marin Civic Center Lagoon. Thirty-five youngsters rotated through the six stations, learning the basics of: Reading The Water, Gear & Rigging, Knot Tying, Fly Tying, Fly Casting, and Spin Casting. During this time, George Starn conducted a casting clinic for the 30 adults, which not only taught them how to cast a fly line, but how to "coach" their kids. This was followed by a raffle with 14 of the kids winning fly fishing prizes, including three rod/reel/line combos, a landing net, four fishing vests, and numerous boxes of flies, and then a sumptuous BBQ lunch put on by Mike Cronin and Linda Perone. On Sunday, Oct 4th, we offered our first follow-up session at the Marin Cheese Factory where the kids practiced their knot tying and fly casting skills, and hook, land, and release numerous Bluegill and small Bass. On Sunday, Oct 11th, we conducted a second follow-up session at Putah Creek where kids reinforced their reading the water knowledge and learn nymphing skills. A six-minute video created by Ed Dudkowski can be found on You Tube: First Cast 2015.
Our Trout in the Classroom (“TIC”) program, operated in conjunction with California Department of Fish and Wildlife (“CDFW”), is about to ramp up for this coming school year. This watershed aquatic education program focuses on trout, how and where they live, adaptations and anatomy, life cycles, and life in the riparian zones. The flagship of TIC is the raising of baby trout in the classroom from eggs to young fish (fry) that will be released into the Lagunitas Watershed. Teachers are now reapplying for the program or signing up to join the program. If you know a teacher who may be interested in becoming part of TIC, have them contact Ethan Rotman at CDFW (ETHAN.ROTMAN@wildlife.ca.gov) as soon as possible so they can be added to his notification list.
Also, we can always use a few more volunteers to assist teachers and classes in learning more about trout. The commitment is short-term and is coordinated between the volunteer and the teacher. Contact Chuck Schultz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-472-5837 for more information.
The North Bay Chapter is a non-profit organization serving anglers and environmentally conscious friends in an ongoing effort to fulfill the mission of Trout Unlimited:
... to conserve, protect and restore North America's trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.
We dedicate ourselves to presenting timely and informative news concerning local conservation, restoration and related topics. We also organize various outings, educational programs, and conservation work. So, be sure to sign up for our email list to receive updates on our many activities under Contact Us.
We hope you will bookmark our site (http://www.nbtu.org) and visit often.