Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Sandbar Traps Steelhead in the Gualala River— Dispatch from Mendonoma


The following is an article written by Jeanne Jackson for her blog Mendonoma Sightings where she documents the wildlife, the land, and the waters of our coast.

Steelhead in the green waters of the Gualala River [Picture taken by Chris Braley]

Chris Braley spotted a group of Steelhead in the lagoon of the Gualala River last week. The river has been closed to the Pacific Ocean by a big sandbar for many weeks, perhaps two months.

We think these are adults who have already spawned. Steelhead often don’t die after spawning, and they return to the ocean after spawning where there is more food for them. Rozanne Rapozo had her long lens on her camera the day after Chris took her photo. Rozanne was only able to get two in her photograph but what a great look at these endangered fish.

A close look at steelhead amongst the cool waters of the Gualala [Picture by Rozanne Rapozo]

We have had a lot of rain overnight and continuing today. It’s very possible the Gualala River will breach the sandbar, possibly today. When that happens, these Steelhead will be on to the  next phase of their lives. Live long and prosper, Steelhead!

Thanks to Chris and Rozanne for allowing me to share their photos with you here.

There was a wonderful two inches of rain in the gauge at our house this morning and it’s continued to rain. 41.85 inches season to date, with “normal” rain being 50 inches. These storms are a gift for us all from Mother Nature, including the Steelhead.

How Can You Support the Efforts of Mendonoma Sightings?

  • Buy Jeanne Jackson’s book Mendonoma Sightings Throughout the Year here. The 270-page, full-color documentation of our coast’s beauty would make for a great gift or coffee table conversation piece.
  • Jeanne Jackson has also written two children’s books: Sunny Loves Spring on the California Coast and Sunny Loves Summer on the California Coast. These playful children’s books were written to instill within children a love of nature. Jackson will be publishing the other two seasons this year. Those books can be purchased at http://sunnylovesnature.com/
  • Check out Craig Tooley’s incredible photography of our coastline here. Buy some prints of his photos, get them framed, and bring the Mendonoma coast home.
  • “Follow” and “Like” the Mendonoma Sightings Throughout the Year Facebook page for direct access to Jackson’s dispatches of life on Mendonoma.
  • If you have your own Mendonoma Sighting, contact Jeanne Jackson at mendonomasightings@gmail.com to submit your narrative and photograph so she can document the experience.
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  1. Nice looking fish to be sure, I hope they make it back into the ocean to return next year.

    When I lived in Gualala 30 years ago things were a bit different, I remember (the late) Jay Baker heading down there to open the sand bar with his bulldozer, it always made the local paper.

    A crowd would gather to watch from the bluff top across from the Gualala Hotel and cheer when the sand bar opened up.

    Yes, I know it was illegal, like I said, things were different then.

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
Editor's Note: Whenever an article's byline reads "MendoFever Staff", the contents of that article were not composed by any of our reporters. Types of writing that will be attributed to "MendoFever Staff" include press releases, letters to the editor, op-eds, obituaries— essentially writing that is not produced by a reporter.

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