With rains pouring down most of November, we knew it was time for our first Ackerman Creek spawner survey of the year. With assistance from Joe Scriven from Mendocino County Resource Conservation District once again, we set out with the hope of documenting our first evidence of redds for the year.
In case you aren’t familiar with what a spawner survey entails, here’s a breakdown. A spawner survey helps gauge the health of Ackerman Creek, or any body of water, by counting the total number of live and dead adult salmonids and redds in the stream. The salmonids in Ackerman Creek include Chinook salmon and steelhead trout. A redd is a spawning nest that is built by salmon and steelhead in the gravel of streams or the shoreline of lakes. It is formed by the female using her tail to dig in a small area of gravel in the bottom of the stream or shore.
As part of spawner surveys, tails or gill plates are clipped and scales taken from salmonid carcasses to be tested for genetic analysis to determine the lineage of each fish. Carcasses get cut in half to avoid counting the same carcass in subsequent surveys. Every redd is counted, measured, and flagged. A marker flag is tied near the redd with the survey date written on the flag. This prevents redd disturbance during future surveys and double counting.
Sadly we didn’t see any evidence of redds on this survey, but we’re hoping a major precipitation event in December will bring the salmonids through the creek, and we’ll be able to document that. Come back here for an update on our future spawner surveys of Ackerman Creek.