Tag Archives: Steelhead

The Gualala River, closed to the Pacific Ocean by a big sandbar for months, finally opened last Sunday night or early Monday morning. Bob Rutemoeller found it open at the north end when he checked mid-morning on Monday.

Steelhead, trapped in luxury during the summer and early autumn months, were swept out to sea to begin the next stage of their lives. The Gualala River didn't stay open long, though. It filled once again, and then reopened. And as of Saturday, it was closed again. With the high tides, King Tides, the river might be closed for a while. We will be watching!

Thanks to Bob for allowing me to share his photos with you here.

With our delicious early rains, the Gualala River opened on October 26th this year. Yes, the big sandbar that had closed the river off to the Pacific Ocean was finally breached. Eric and Annie Mills watched as it opened. But this year, for a while, it opened in two places, a very unusual occurrence.

First, let me show you what the river looked like just before it opened, as photographed by Bob Rutemoeller. It was full and flooding into its floodplain.

before-the-gualala-river-opened-by-bob-rutemoellerEric noticed the river breach the sandbar at the north end, just a tiny rivulet.

gualala-river-beginning-to-open-by-eric-millsAnd then it opened a little to the south, a much bigger opening.

gualala-river-breaks-through-a-little-south-of-the-north-end-by-eric-millsWithin a few minutes the pent up river was pouring out to the ocean. Steelhead that had been trapped in luxury in the river were sent into their briny destiny. Snags and branches shot out the opening. It was quite a spectacle.

gualala-river-opening-to-the-pacific-ocean-by-eric-millsThis year the river opened on a sunny day, another unusual occurrence! It's usually raining when it opens.

Here's the after photo, taken by Bob Rutemoeller.

after-the-gualala-river-opened-by-bob-rutemoellerWe've had more rain, so the river isn't this low now.

Thanks to Eric and Bob for allowing me to share their photos with you here.

Bob Rutemoeller was out last Saturday when an approaching storm brought big waves. He visited the Gualala Bluff Trail, which overlooks the Gualala River and the Pacific Ocean. The ocean was flowing over the big sandbar that currently blocks the river from the ocean.

Big surf flowing over the sandbar of the Gualala River by Bob Rutemoeller High surf reaches the stranded tree in the Gualala River lagoon by Bob Rutemoeller

This big tree came down the river last year and wedged in the sandbar. It will be interesting to see if it gets pushed out to sea when the river opens to the ocean again.

Having ocean water enter the fresh water of the river is advantageous for any Steelhead that were trapped in luxury when the river last closed. The salinity of the ocean mixes with the river, giving the Steelhead a taste of what is to come.

Thanks to Bob for allowing me to share his photos with you here. To learn more about the Gualala Bluff Trail and other public access points, here is the website for the Redwood Coast Land Conservancy: http://www.rc-lc.org/

Peter Baye noticed a group of Steelhead in the Gualala River. One of them was nearly white - a leucistic Steelhead.

Leucistic steelhead with normal colored Steelhead by Peter Baye

That's not something you see every day! Thanks to Peter for allowing me to share his photo with you here.

As it happens every year in the spring, the Gualala River is closed at the river mouth by a big sandbar. Rick and I went to Gualala Point Regional Park to photograph it.

The closed Gualala River (Large) A sandbar closes the ualala River' (Large)

Once the river is closed, the mouth of the river is called a lagoon. When the river is open it is called an estuary. With the river closed it is a very safe river to kayak.

To rent a kayak on the Gualala River, here is the website for Adventure Rents: http://www.adventurerents.com/

The river will remain closed until we receive storms in the fall. Any Steelhead in the river are now trapped in luxury.