following information provides you with an update on the spawning
salmon populations and spawning activity in the Lagunitas Watershed
Saturday, January 8, 2005
Despite fears the season was coming to an end and thus our Creek Walk would be short on live fish, we had a wonderful day, with views of wild coho in almost all phases of their spawning cycle. Although many appeared to be coming to the end of their lives, we saw plenty of salmon soap opera - females fighting other females off their redds (nests); males jockeying for position with each other as well as swimming up to, over and around females who had not yet laid all their eggs; and the ever-exciting efforts of jacks (precocious two year males) to dash in and contribute their genetic material to the spawning , despite the best efforts of the full-grown males to prevent them. We also saw at least seven carcasses. There were active spawners in Larsen Creek (above the San Geronimo Cultural Center) as well as in the Lagunitas Creek stretch above the Leo Cronin Viewing area. This next weekend (Jan. 15 and 16) is the last for a SPAWN tour this season. Given the activity this past week, there should still be fish to see.
Sunday January 2, 2005.
The last five days of salmon viewing have been spectacular:
the wild coho that roared up the streams following the long-awaited
post-Christmas rains have been busily spawning, females digging nests
and bright red males muscling each other out of the way, wrestling
and biting to be the first one up to fertilize the eggs.
Hundreds of coho salmon were waiting in downstream pools
during the three dry weeks before these last rains. The combination
of the best coho year we've had in the 10 years the Water District
has been performing counts and the bunching of incoming fish caused
by the dry/dry/dry/dry/WET weather pattern has given us streams
crowded with salmon, making for very exciting viewing.
The intensity of activity is diminishing now, as spawning is
completed and female fish take up the defense of their redds (nests)
that will continue until their deaths, 3 to 24 days after spawning is
completed. Males die 9 days after spawning, so they too are growing
The Leo Cronin viewing area to Peter's Dam is still an
excellent place to see salmon, redds, and now, carcasses. We've also
seen the first steelhead of the season.
Tuesday December 28th, 2004.
In just two days, we received another 5 to 8 inches of rain in the watershed. Creeks are running very high and strong. On Monday, the National Weather Service issued a small urban stream flood advisory, although since that time, the waters have somewhat subsided. More storms and heavy rain are expected later this week.
Salmon once again can be seen leaping through the falls at the Inkwells and at Roy's Pools. We also observed lampreys tenaciously clinging to the rocks at the Inkwells. A beautiful sight!
To view salmon strutting their stuff (swimming and spawning), the stretch of creek between the Leo Cronin viewing area and Peter's Dam (below Kent Lake) are once again great areas to view these magnificent fish. Be cautious out there, and happy viewing!
For directions to fish-viewing sites you can click to download our Where to See Salmon brochure.
You can also join our naturalist-led salmon viewing tours, reservations required. Please click Upcoming Events for more information or call 415.488.0370 x101 (note: call x102 from Dec.27-30) to make reservations.
Wednesday December 22nd, 2004. Happy Winter Solstice!
Four species of salmon have now been observed in Lagunitas Creek Watershed:
Coho, Chinook, Chum, and Steelhead!
The first week of December brought over 6 inches of rain in the watershed. Coho and Chinook were seen leaping through the falls at both the Inkwells below Shafter Bridge and at Roy's Pools. Since then, spawning activity has continued throughout the watershed. Rapid decreases in water levels have been observed in San Geronimo Creek, so once again fish are holding in deeper pools awaiting more rain in the upper reaches. See photos below.
The best place to view spawning activity is still at the Leo Cronin viewing area next to Shafter Bridge on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Remember to respect the salmon and their surrounding habitat! Avoid making loud noises and keep your distance. Prevent sediment erosion by staying on official trails.
For directions to fish-viewing sites you can click to download our Where to See Salmon brochure. You can also join our naturalist-led salmon viewing tours, reservations required. Please click Upcoming Events for more information or call 415.488.0370 x101 (note: call x102 from Dec.27-30) to make reservations.
Friday December 17th, 2004
Fantastic views from the creek, December 16th 2004.
Friday December 10th, 2004
We received over 6 inches of rain just this past week! The salmon
migration has been spectacular and salmon can still be seen jumping
through the Inkwells below Shafter Bridge, and also at Roy's Pools.
The best location to view salmon is from the new pedestrian bridge
adjacent to Shafter Bridge. You can also view spawning from the
trail between Shafter Bridge and Peter's Dam.
Remember to respect the salmon and their surrounding habitat! Avoid
making loud noises and keep your distance. Prevent sediment erosion
by staying on official trails.
Tuesday, December 7th 2004
Last night we received 2.9 inches of rain in the San Geronimo Valley. As a result of this significant rainfall, salmon are now making their way into San Geronimo Creek. You can view salmon from Shafter Bridge as they dramatically leap through the pools below you at the Inkwells.
Going West on Sr Francis Drake Blv, Shafter bridge is the large bridge on your right side ~1 mile past the town of Lagunitas. There is room to park across the road at the Leo Cronin Viewing area. When you arrive at Leo Cronin peek into Lagunitas Creek from the parking lot and you will see splendid coho redds (or gravel nests) in the creek below.
American Dippers can also be seen on Lagunitas Creek around the area of the bridge. River otters have also been observed in this area.
Please approach the creek with care and avoid entering the creek at all costs.
Well these rains are quite nice and
are providing the fish great opportunities to reach their spawning
grounds. As of 12/12/03 fish can be seen at Devil's Gulch, Leo Cronin,
Inkwells, Roy's Pools (and Upstream of the pools on the golf course)
and Larsen Creek. Otter alert! - You have read Susan Farar's well
written account of her experience with the Salmon and Otters (see
below). I just got word from of creekside resident on Woodacre creek
that they spotted 4 River otters behind her house 2 weeks ago. As
you may know this is quite far upstream. I have never heard any
reports of them being seen this far upstream! I will keep you posted.
There is a small woody debris jam that appears to be obstructing/impeding
passage of fish during low winter flow conditions on the San Geronimo
Golf Course. We and the water district are keeping an eye on it.
Fish ARE able to pass the jam during high flow conditions.
Naturalist Susan Farar
The siren call of winter rains in
Marin has again lured the fat Coho salmon back into the creeks where
they were born. Early Sunday morning I ventured out to all the local
hot spots, hoping to see big, red Coho spawning in our watershed.
I first went to Roy's Pools but it was obvious from the relatively
low water flow that I wouldn't be seeing any fish jumping through
the fish ladder there.
I drove down Sir Francis Drake to
the Shafter Bridge and hiked down to the Ink Wells' stair-step series
of pools. I found several salmon holding there and attempting to
jump, but again the water flow was just not sufficient. I did see
an acrobatic Coho parr, not more than 5 inches long, that repeatedly
jumped 4 feet or more trying to negotiate the first waterfall. I
want to see him when he comes back full grown!
Then I walked up the creek towards
Kent Dam. As I walked from my car in the parking lot next to the
creek, I immediately spied 3 large female Coho building redd's.
One especially choosy female, kept moving to different locations
along the riffle, trying to pick the perfect site. Only one 2-year-old
jack was there to service all three of these lovely salmon and he
moved from female to female, monitoring their progress as they built
their nests and readied for spawning.
Seeing so many Coho in that small
area made me very hopeful that I would see many more along the creek
so I walked further. It was a perfect morning for a hike ? fog nestled
amongst the trees still dripping from last night's steady rain.
The air was most and relatively warm.
I neared a good-sized pool and saw
a couple of males battling for position in the creek. Suddenly several
huge fish came barreling down the creek but they were very unusual;
larger than salmon and grayish tan in color. I lifted by binoculars
to get a better look when one of the fish got out of the water and
started leaping across the rocks. They weren't fish all but six
river otters. Imagine six otters in a place where they are rarely
seen as the population has been largely lost in Marin. They plated
in front of me for awhile until one of the otters spied me up above
them on the bank.They took off lickety-splick down the creek and,
of course, I followed.
I neared one of my favorite spawning
sites on the creek, where the sign says, "Quiet, Salmon Spawning"
and walked down the hill to get a closer look. There was a large
female building a redd right there right next to woody debris installed
in the creek. I watched her for a few minutes and then noticed hidden
in the woody debris one of the otters munching away on a large salmon,
split open, bright pink and half-eaten. He continued to munch, unaware
that I was there. The female salmon was unaware of his presence
too and moved too close to where he was hidden. The otter leapt
into the water and chased her down the creek. She managed to slip
away and so did the dead fish the otter was eating as another otter
came and dragged away the kill.
I waited for 15 minutes and the female
returned but she held in a deep part of the pool and didn't return
to her redd. At that time I had to leave.
I left with mixed feelings. It was
clear that the otters could clean the pools of salmon in a day and
that would be a significant loss to the struggling salmon that are
on the brink of extinction. The river otters are also struggling
for survival in the area and are only recently gaining a foothold.
One threatened species was feeding on the other.
and COHO SALMON SPAWNING
IN MARIN'S LAGUNITAS WATERSHED
Coho salmon have returned to spawn
in the creeks. The rains that we have experienced in the last 3
days have filled the creeks enough to enable our watershed neighbors
to return home. We have noted heavy spawning activity at Shafter
Bridge, Jumping at the Inkwells, and spawning in San Geronimo Creek
near Lagunitas. I even saw a muskrat today and a deer walking across
the creek (practically over a nest!). In addition, I am pretty sure
that I saw a chinook salmon up from Shafter Bridge. This fish was
much larger than coho and gray. It disappeared before I could get
a better view of it. Chinook have been seen throughout Lagunitas
this season so I am not surprised. There are other locations that
coho are likely spawning such as Lagunitas in SP Taylor State Park
and possibly Devil's Gulch.
Come on a creekwalk to see the spawning
salmon! Now is a great time to do it!
If you go into the watershed on your
own, please send me a message alerting me to your discoveries!!
Remember to be respectful of the salmon and other species dependent
on a healthy watershed.
SPAWNING SALMON ON A NATURALIST LED CREEK WALK.
We have observed three different species
of salmon spawning in the Lagunitas Watershed this winter so far
- Coho, Chinook and Chum. Salmon could be seen from Samuel P. Taylor
Park to below Lagunitas. Salmon were seen at Lagunitas Creek upstream
of Irving bridge, Lagunitas Creek near Devil's Gulch, Lagunitas
Creek Below Devils Gulch.
The public is invited to come on a
creek walk with one of SPAWN's Creek Naturalists to view the spawning
salmon. Visitors will learn about the fascinating life history of
endangered salmon, the stream ecosystem, and the impacts that these
and other species face in the Lagunitas Watershed. (See information
The Marin Municipal Water District
as of late last week (11/6/03) saw 18 redds (nests) between Tocaloma
and Devil's Gulch and 5 redds downstream of Tocaloma. They had only
seen five live chinook so far. Two chinook were as far upstream
of the campground bridge in Samuel P. Taylor State Park. They only
saw two chinook actually on redds. One of them was on her redd for
a week, right at the mouth of Devil's Gulch but she is no longer
SPAWN naturalist Kaye Swafford, who
was combing the watershed on Sunday (11/9), discovered a coho moving
upstream on Lagunitas Creek below Devil's Gulch.
Todd Steiner, SPAWN's Director, watched
a chum salmon for hours while spawning at Irving Bridge on Lagunitas
Creek Sunday. As of Monday (11/10) afternoon, he said the female
was still over her redd there (see attached photos by Todd).
The most unique and interesting observation
was by veteran SPAWN naturalist David Ford. This salmo-phile was
out at 10pm Saturday night (11/8) with his flashlight at the Inkwells
on San Geronimo Creek in anticipation of seeing the first leaping
salmon after the season's first big storm! However, much to his
surprise he observed 4-5 lampreys working their way up the rocks
and cascading water at the inkwells. Lampreys also spawn in these
creeks and spend part of their life at sea as do salmon. Their nests
are small (1-2 foot wide) pits that they excavate in the stream
bed. The young live in the creeks for 2-7 years before heading out
More salmon are likely congregating
at the mouth of this watershed awaiting the coming rains which will
enable them to reach their spawning habitat which extends as far
as Woodacre, 33 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The return of these
species marks the dramatic end of their journey which began in these
creeks 3-5 years ago.
Tell your friends and come on creek
Coho, chinook and even chum salmon
have been spotted in the Lagunitas Watershed this winter so far.
We have received over 27 inches of rain since November according
to the rain gauge at our office in Forest Knolls. As a result, Lagunitas
Creek, San Geronimo Creek and all of the tributaries were quite
full and conditions excellent for spawning coho salmon. Rainfall
has slowed in the new year but we are expecting more. Immediately
after rain events, there are a few good locations that salmon and
steelhead can be seen jumping through in their effort to reach spawning
grounds. A site to see salmon jumping is at Roy's Pools on San Geronimo
Creek at the San Geronimo Golf course. Another good place to see
salmon jumping is at the Inkwells (the confluence of San Geronimo
Creek and Lagunitas Creek). They were apparently providing a spectacular
show in December for the lucky few witnesses. This site is located
across the road from the Leo Cronin Viewing Area at Shafter Bridge.
Peter's Dam on Kent Lake is likely
going to be completely full in the next couple of days and will
be spilling over into Lagunitas Creek. This may allow fish to more
easily move into Lagunitas Creek. As flows increase, you may have
luck finding spawning salmon at the Leo Cronin Viewing Area at Shafter
Bridge (just downstream of the dam) and in Samuel P. Taylor State
Park behind the entrance and along the along the North Creek Trail
or South Creek Trail in search of them. Ask the state park ranger
how to get to these trails.
It appears that the majority of coho
have spawned. However we may see a few late arrivals over the coming
weeks. Nevertheless, the steelhead run has begun and we expect to
them in increasing numbers.
Since the beginning of the spawning
season. There have been 143 coho redds, 20 chinook redds, 2 steelhead
redds and 31 unidentified redds. 30 of these redds were counted
in the tributaries to San Geronimo Creek by SPAWN survey crews.
The remaining redds were counted in Lagunitas, Devils Gulch and
San Geronimo Creeks by MMWD.
**We ask you to please be respectful of the salmon and their habitat
and assure that your visit to the watershed does not impact these
We have created a brochure which outlines
the best places to see spawning in the watershed as well as proper
salmon viewing etiquette. Go to our website www.spawnusa.org to
download the brochure or send us a self addressed stamped envelope.