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Saturday, December 15 , 2018, 10:53 pm | Fair 49º


Captain’s Log: Goleta Slough Flowing to the Sea Opens Up Possibilities for Steelhead

Let’s not get our hopes up quite yet, but here is what an adult steelhead looks like. They are common in Northern California. This beauty was caught by Lonnie Dollarhide of Eureka in a nearby river. Click to view larger
Let’s not get our hopes up quite yet, but here is what an adult steelhead looks like. They are common in Northern California. This beauty was caught by Lonnie Dollarhide of Eureka in a nearby river. (Capt. David Bacon / Noozhawk photo)

I count myself very lucky because I get to spend considerable time at Goleta Beach Park, since I own the fishing shack business halfway out on the pier. It’s an awesome place to hang out.

Recently, all of us who spend time there have watched the slough water rise until it is as high as it can get before punching through the sand at the east end of the park and flowing into the sea.

Controlling such events has advantages, and so dozers were at work out there just east of the parking lot Friday and Saturday, creating a channel for the water. The flow was strong, but the timing was good because that brief but intense thunderstorm that rumbled overhead Saturday evening added enough water that a flood could have occurred had the water not pushed through the sand fast enough. The county timed its work well.

Now it is fun to go watch the water flow. Be careful, however, because that flow can be stronger and deeper than it appears, and we want everyone to stay safe.

The importance of this water flow to the sea cannot be understated. Goleta Slough can serve as a major spawning, feeding and nursery area for numerous fish, including such favorites as halibut.

The most exciting possibility in my mind is steelhead making spawning forays up San Jose Creek. They sure are able to make it into the slough now, with the great runoff we’ve had.

A few years back, the stretch of that creek bed between the slough and Hollister Avenue Bridge was re-engineered by adding impediments to give steelhead spots to stop and rest in pockets of quieter water so that they have the strength to make it up to the natural habitat, which begins above Hollister Avenue. Habitat gets even better for them up between the freeway and Cathedral Oaks Bridge and above that.

I’ve had my kids and then grandkids down in that creek bed and showed them the steelhead fry after successful spawning years. Hopefully this will be the best spawning year for them in decades. I’d love to see our local streams full of steelhead. They are truly a magnificent fish!

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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