|Rain brings nice color to rivers
Great news for anadromous fish, which are born in freshwater and swim downstream to live in seawater.
Approximately three years later, they swim back to the stream from which they were hatched to spawn the next generation. The recent rains, particularly in the coastal north end of our state, have opened the floodgates for these nervous beauties.
There was enough rain over the last two weeks to bring the Eel, Mattole, Mad and Smith rivers to a nice chocolate color. Once the rain stopped for a week, the silt settled, and the nearly clear streams became fishable. The Klamath River has so much water heading downstream that the mouth at the ocean is seldom closed.
This pattern is the source of rainbow trout, salmon and steelhead that populate the famous ‘Six Rivers’ drainage system that we love to fish. The Russian river may get some serious help over the next week or so of rain, which will help the spawn at the hatchery below the Lake Sonoma Dam.
The news on the mushroom front is not so fortunate. The mycelium, the underground plant/animal that produces a mushroom, senses when the time is right to send up its fruiting body. For clarity, think of an apple on a tree but upside down. The environment warms in the spring and the trees blossom. Once the miniature apple is born and grows to maturity, we eat their babies.
For a mycelium, when conditions are right, it fruits and a mushroom is born, and we eat their babies…hopefully with a more careful eye. Conditions have not been right, given the crazy weather this fall and winter. Right now, we should be seeing the last of the Black Chanterelle, the tasty hedgehog and the delicate yellow foot.
Chef Roger Praplan reported on a trip to Salt Point. Three hours of driving and a day spent in the woods yielded a handful of tired mushrooms. Except for the fairly normal rain pattern in the fall, when we harvested tons of Chanterelle and earlier, Bolete and Coccora, the wild mushroom sport has been in a sorry state of affairs. In theory, the mycelium senses the conditions that's are too warm and too dry on the surface and conserves their energy for the next season. Let’s hope for more moisture and a return to a more typical spring so that the Morel season will bear fruit.
Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.