Wednesday, 29 May 2024

Clear Lake Hitch spawning migration under way

Image
Kelsey Creek has seen an especially large run of the Clear Lake Hitch this year. Here they're pictured on Thursday, March 18, 2010. Photo by Philip Murphy.

 

 

 

 

 

 


LAKE COUNTY – The annual spawning migration of the Clear Lake hitch seems to be at its peak, with indications that this remarkable spectacle may be particularly spectacular this year.


The hitch (lavinia exilicauda chi) is a fish found only in Clear Lake and a California listed Species of Special Concern; they live deep in the lake most of the year, but during a brief breeding season every spring move up into the surrounding creeks.


Once present in unimaginable abundance, hitch were a valuable food source for wildlife and of great importance to the native people of the region, but their population has declined substantially over the past 50 years, for reasons that are not completely understood.


Recently they have been found in reliably large numbers only in Kelsey and Adobe creeks.


This year might just be different.


The Chi Council, an organization dedicated to the long-term survival of the hitch and which has recruited dozens of volunteers to observe the spawning migration, has as usual recorded large schools in both Kelsey and Adobe creeks.


Numbers were especially high in Kelsey Creek, where one grouping below the detention structure off Finley East Road was described as being 20 yards long and containing perhaps 10,000 fish, “more fish than water.”


Also, for the first time in several years, the group has received observations from Robinson, Pool, Hendricks, Manning and Clover creeks.


The most exciting news of all was a report of a school consisting of a few hundred hitch in Middle Creek, where the county has constructed a series of rock weirs to facilitate fish passage.


This the first significant sighting in Middle Creek since 2006, which also happens to be the last year of “normal” rainfall in the Clear Lake basin.


Details about the hitch run are available at the Chi Council website, http://lakelive.info/chicouncil, where still photographs and a video of spawning in progress have also been posted.


The council is also hoping to schedule a field trip to see the 2010 migration in person. This event has tentatively been planned for Saturday, March 27.


For confirmation and meetup details, check the Web site or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

 

 

 

Image
Clear Lake Hitch pictured in Clover Creek in Lake County Calif., on Thursday, March 18, 2010. Photo by Tom Smythe.
 

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