Higher numbers of salmon and trout bring speculative hopes

02/01/2018

The Marin Municipal Water District reported average to high numbers of spawning salmonid species in Lagunitas Creek in January, with the month’s storms finally allowing the spawners to migrate into the tributary streams following a dry stretch late last year. Over a four-day period in January, the district said it counted 155 coho salmon, which it considers a respectable number during a peak spawning week. Interestingly, half or more of the observed coho were “jacks,” or two-year-old males that return to spawn after less than a year in the open ocean. (Typically, salmon spend two years in the ocean before returning to spawn.) In an update released last week, the district’s aquatic ecologist Eric Ettlinger said the last time the district saw so many jacks was in 2002-2003. The next year yielded a larger-than-normal coho run. “Maybe this year’s jacks also predict good things for next year,” Mr. Ettlinger said. The district also announced unusually high numbers of steelhead. At 33 individuals, numbers have not been this high since 2008, which was also followed by one of the largest-ever documented steelhead runs in the creek. But, Mr. Ettlinger said, “Steelhead will continue to spawn through April, so we won’t know for a while if the run is one for the record books.”