Once again we have had a very busy winter and spring, complicated by this year’s odd rainfall patterns. The slight rain the week of November wet the ground and did nothing to bring up the extremely low creek flows and none of the sand bars opened at any of the local creek mouths. However, the near constant rain from December 8th to January 2nd raised creek flows and opened all of the streams in our local area. Due to high water flows and turbulent water, we were not able to access Scott Creek until January 7th, 2003. The Scott Creek Coho collection for the season amounted to one 3 year old male and four 2 year old precocious males. The males were saved for possible breeding with the 4 year old captive brood stock, of which only 2 females developed eggs. Unfortunately none of the eggs were viable. For the first time, this year’s viable sperm from the wild and captive brood stock Coho males were frozen and preserved by Dr. Eric Sturm, NMFS, and are being held in a liquid nitrogen cryogenic tank at the NMFS-Santa Cruz Lab for future use. All the male Coho were genetically typed by Dr. Carlos Garza from the NMFS Santa Cruz lab.

Rainfall in mid February finally increased the San Lorenzo River flows to allow the inflation of the Felton Diversion Dam and the fish trap going into operation on February 16th, 2003. Steelhead were collected from February 17th thru March 20th at which time the City of Santa Cruz had to deflate the dam as a potential terrorist target. Twelve adult female Steelhead and 24 male Steelhead were collected and spawned from the San Lorenzo River and one female Scotts Creek Steelhead and four males were also collected and spawned for this year’s production. Eyed egg production this year is 63,900 Steelhead fry from the San Lorenzo River and 4,600 fry from Scott Creek. No viable Coho Salmon fry survived from this year’s adult collection. An additional 2,700 Steelhead eyed eggs were sent to our STEP education program for distribution to over 120 school classroom incubators.

Steelhead and Coho smolts from last year’s brood were planted out this year in late March and the first week of April 2003. With our best Coho production ever and high numbers of natural production being found in Scotts and Gazos Creeks, the hatchery Coho smolts were divided up into groups by the joint NMFS & CDFG Recovery teams to begin reintroduction into the two best candidate local streams this year. The two best candidates for Coho reintroduction were Pescadero Creek in San Mateo County and Aptos Creek in Santa Cruz County. These two creeks were added to our planting list this year. The total 2002 Brood year Coho production of 31,379 fish were planted as follows:

  • Scotts Creek 6,664
  • Waddell Creek 6,120
  • Aptos Creek 7,140
  • Pescadero Creek 11,475

This year’s plants of 2002 Brood year Steelhead into their stream of origin were as follows:

  • Scotts Creek Steelhead 7,457
  • San Lorenzo Steelhead 39,561

I would like to thank all the volunteers who have helped out over the past 6 months, who are too numerous to list. Your contributions are greatly appreciated. I would also like to thank my wife Jan, who still tolerates my long days at the hatchery and the numerous evening meetings.