The news reports we’ve seen over the past few months gave vivid depictions of the power inherent in weather systems. The heavy snows and rain that hit our state and the extraordinary floods that resulted brought annoyance to hundreds of thousands of our fellow Californians, and too many experienced heartbreak, even tragedy.
Among the phenomena we saw were the crumbling of levees, sinkholing of roads, and erosion of dams. The things we build to protect us, to keep our economy working and our lives untroubled, sometimes prove inadequate for the task. We try to be masters of our fate, in control and confident, but then out of the jet stream comes a curveball.
For anglers, the storms were pluses and minuses. There’s a lot
of snow in the mountains, promising full streams this season. Lakes and reservoirs are full, too, and will stay high longer than usual. Releases from dams will likely be higher for a longer period, as well, so as to create room for the anticipated snowmelt. Yet populations of fish and aquatic insects will have suffered in waters that experienced extreme flows, and there were surely “bottom-scouring events” as gates of reservoirs were lifted to release torrents of stormwater.
But these impacts tend to be adverse for only a short time. The flushing of silt that built up during the drought will improve fish-spawning habitat and expose rock surfaces where nymphs like to anchor. And there are other pluses, particularly for anadromous species, which this winter found plenty of water for ascending their natal streams. And ascending other streams, too: a friend sent me a photo of what looked to be sockeye salmon — red-bodied fish with large humps, green heads, and pronounced kypes — purportedly heading up a creek on the San Mateo County coast. “These fish are seriously off course,” he wrote, because sockeyes typically spawn far to the north of us.
Sockeyes south of San Francisco. Whether true or not, one wonders what other fish species went off course over the past few months and are spawning in places that have never seen their like or that have been without fish for much too long. In the wake of annoyance and tragedy, life surges forth . . . .
Publisher and Editor