Spawning Activity has Ceased, at Least for Now

Report for November 11, by Rich Yarges

I visited Maloney Creek again on Sunday. The creek is lower now, and much quieter than last weekend.  The spawning activity has ceased. There are still some salmon about, but they are not spawning.  They appear to be resting from last weekend.  The salmon that I did see were almost all in singles.  I took this photo of a male resting in shallow water. 


Resting Male Salmon


I waded to the middle of the creek to see how alert the salmon was.  I got pretty close, but once he caught sight of me he took off suddenly, swimming upstream for about 200 yards.  I followed him until he disappeared into a root wad.  I am sure that some salmon I saw today were the same ones I saw spawning last weekend.  I saw 2-3 females and 4-5 males.  The females that I saw had the webbing in their tails almost completely worn away.  This had to be because they use their tails to sweep out the nest for their eggs. Their tail looks like a badly worn broom.  The males did not exhibit this feature. 

I didn’t see any salmon carcasses, so many of the salmon I saw last week have either retreated downstream or perhaps been scooped up by an eagle.  We have been seeing more eagles about now.   

I also noticed this:

Large Animal Track (Bear?)

This photo was taken right on the bank where I took the photos of the salmon spawning last week.  It is hard to see it in the photo but there is a fresh depression in the gravel that is almost as big as my glove. The depression, and several others at the same location, is the track of a large animal. I couldn’t make out any detail because the gravel doesn’t take a print well, but the tracks aren’t elongated like a human print so I don’t think they are human.   They are more roundish than a human print.  They are too large and deep to be a dog, coyote, or bobcat. There are no domestic animals nearby to account for them either. I gradually realized that they were almost certainly left by a bear.  I felt a little chill run up my spine as I came to this conclusion, and I was a little more cautious for the rest of my visit.  Perhaps a bear has discovered our spawning salmon as well.

If you want to see spawning salmon it may be best to wait for our next freshet to bring some more salmon in.  The salmon in the creek right now appear to have already spawned.  If you do go to the creek please be watchful for bears.

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