2021 was a very tough year for Central Valley salmon populations, due to state and federal government water mismanagement during a record drought.
Only 2.6 percent of juvenile endangered winter run Chinook salmon on the Sacramento River survived in lethally warm water conditions. The majority of wild adult spring run Chinook salmon on Butte Creek, 14,500 out of an estimated 18,000 to 20,000 fish, died before spawning. And only 104,000 adult fall run Chinook salmon returned to the Sacramento, American and Feather rivers, missing the conservation goal of 122,000 to 180,000 fish.
But there is some good news amidst all of the bad news. The fall of 2021 was a good season for adult Chinook salmon swimming up Auburn Ravine to spawn in the foothills east of downtown Lincoln, California, according to an update from Friends of Auburn Ravine.
”Over 200 large fall-run chinook salmon, some over 43 inches long, made the trip. The thousands of eggs that they laid in gravel beds hatched some weeks ago, and the young salmon (now about 2 inches long) have begun to swim downstream toward the ocean in large schools,” the group reported.
Volunteers from Friends of Auburn Ravine were dispatched to capture some video of this inspiring annual event using the groups new “Salmon Camera on a Stick” — and they were highly successful.
”On multiple trips over the last few weeks, they have documented many hundreds of these juvenile salmon actively feeding in riffles and pools as they move downstream,” the group revealed. “While they were at it, they also captured video of many other fish that make their homes in Auburn Ravine including black bass, sunfish, Sacramento suckers, Sacramento pike minnow and rainbow trout.”
This 2-minute video shows them and the baby salmon:
No adult steelhead or Pacific lamprey, also found in Auburn Ravine, were documented in the video.
The group’s “Salmon Camera on a Stick” system improves on the typical “GoPro on a Stick” by adding a viewing screen on the handle. This gives users a live action remote viewing capability that lets them see in real time what the camera is seeing.
“This makes it easier to capture good images and saves time compared to the old ‘point and hope’ method where the user had to repeatedly pull the camera out of the water to see what it had recorded. The first scenes of the video show one of our volunteers using this new system,” the group added.