Spring is a time for new life, growth and transition for many plants and animals. This includes the fish that live around us.
During the months of March and April, many anadromous fish leave the streams in which they originated and head to the ocean. Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project gives this natural system a boost by releasing more fish every spring.
This year, the project has released thousands of steelhead and coho salmon into the local watersheds.
The juvenile coho were hatched during the fall and winter of 2011 and have spent most of their lives at the Big Creek Hatchery. These fish have now been released into Scotts Creek, Big Creek and Mill Creek. The release will continue for a few more weeks — when it’s finished, a total of 15,000 coho smolts will be released.
The coho salmon release has been a combination effort by the project and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There is a strong combined effort to bring coho salmon back to these fragile coastal watersheds, and there are high hopes of seeing adults return in the next few year.
Steelhead are also being released this time of year. The San Lorenzo River received 19,000 juvenile steelhead. A truck and group of volunteers were able to pump the fish directly from a holding tank into the river in Ben Lomond and Boulder Creek.
Most of these fish were hatched from steelhead collected from the rubber dam site in Felton more than one year ago.
The Salmon and Trout Education Program alone will give 30 eggs each to 100 classrooms in the Bay Area. These eggs will hatch and be released to nearby watersheds. This program helps the fish, and helps students learn about habitat, environment and the life cycle of fish.
The project will also host the Chinook enhancement program in the coming weeks. This entails a net pen constructed in the Santa Cruz Harbor that will keep four loads of 60,000 juvenile Chinook salmon from the Feather River. The 240,000 fish will acclimate from fresh water to salt, be fed and then released. The effort is to create a fishery that gives local salmon fishing a real boost.
The Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project is always in need of volunteers and donations. In fact, all the efforts mentioned prior have volunteer positions, and throughout the summer. The hatchery is located up Scotts Creek off Swanton Road — a beautiful location. All the volunteer work is very valued and in the gorgeous outdoors helping fish.
Contact the project through www.mbstp.org, or call the hatchery directly 458-3095.
- Mike Baxter has fished in the Monterey Bay Area since he was a boy and has been a licensed charter boat captain for more than 20 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also hosts a fishing show on radio station KSCO (1080) from 8:06 to 9 p.m. Thursdays April through the end of August.