Kayaking Monte Rio to Jenner and the Sea Lions Clean House

Thursday March 13, 2014, Monte Rio CA.

And it looks like the river’s mouth is closed, trapping the Steelhead

Ray and I decided to go down the river from Monte Rio to Jenner today, about eleven miles or so. This require a car shuttle, so we did the car thing and put in at Monte Rio around eleven AM and headed down the river at a leisurely pace.

The wind we had yesterday had died down today and the sun was out with a blue sky as we left.

This is our view as we entered the Villa Grande hole area. We sat around in the hole for a bit.villa


Sea Lions and Steelhead

There were some sea lions hunting around in the hole. Shortly, Ray says, there’s a big fish by you. And sure enough a big steelhead fish came swimming on over to my boat. This fish was fairly torn up. For some reason they lose a lot of their skin sometimes during the spawn. The pink on this one is lost skin. It’s spawned and headed back to the ocean. While I was watching this one swim around me I saw a few others scamper away from the shoreline where they’d been hiding from the sea lions.steelhead


We watched those fish for awhile then continued on down the river.

Here we are just above Moscow hole.moscowhole


Just below Moscow hole, Ray says turtles and there were two big ones on a log near the shore.These were fairly big ones, just over eight inches long.

Here is one of them. Note it is shedding it’s shell, little pieces at a time. See the little plates poking up on it’s back.turtle


We continued on down to Casini’s Ranch to Browns pool, which is considered the spot where the estuary starts by the biologists.

Big time Sea Lion hunt going on here

There was a pack of sea lions working the pool and being real successful in catching and eating steelhead. We watched them catch several. I tried to get pictures for over a half hour, but they would only come to the surface for a short time. We did watch them sling big fish around while eating them several times.

Eventually, they had a big fish they were slinging around right in front of us. I tried to get pics of them throwing the big fish around, but they were too fast.

After eating that one, they surfaced for a bit right in front of me and I was able to get a couple good pics of them, but not with the big fish.sealions


Another Sea lion hunting steelhead fish.sealion


There were also some harbor seals hunting around in the area too.

The River’s mouth seems to have closed

It appeared the mouth of the river was closed as the water was high here. That caused the river to back up and since now, there was no current in the river in this area, the fish that were going back to the ocean seemed to be stalled in Brown’s pool and the sea lions were cleaning up on them, having a feast. The River’s mouth being closed trapped the steelhead in the estuary and they can’t get back to the ocean until the river’s mouth opens again.

We left the sea lions to do their thing and continued on down the river some more.

Canoe Anyone?

Just below Casini’s I spied a canoe half submerged in the water, one that had broken lose during the last storm and had floated down here.

We were looking at it deciding we didn’t need a canoe when we heard a lady shout from up stream, that’s not your canoe. She was paddling another canoe down to apparently pick this one up. Since we didn’t need a canoe anyway, we left before she got to it and continued on down the river.canoe


Osprey nests and Heron Rookery tree

We passed by Duncan’s Mills Bridge and on down to the Osprey nesting area.

This is an osprey nest with an osprey sitting there too, way up in a big tree.ospreynest


See the osprey and nest on the left of this picture? Well, that big fir tree on the right is a Great Blue Heron Rookery tree with somewhere between ten and twenty big nests in it.heronrookery


Here is a close up of a few of the Great Blue Heron nests in it. You can see one great blue heron in this picture too, but there are a lot more of them up there hiding.heronnests


Some people know about the osprey nesting area, but few know about the Great Blue Heron Tree.

Just below the heron tree, we pulled out in a grassy area for a much needed break.kayaks


The wind came up rather strong and it looked like the fog might come in as we continued down the river.windup


Ray was sure we were going to get blown away by the wind as we approached the Jenner area, but luckily he was wrong and it calmed down a bit for the rest of the trip.

Here is Ray going by some big cypress trees just above Markham pool.cypress


We passed a couple Merganser ducks resting on the shore. Two females.mergansers


We saw a bunch of cormorants in the estuary, but they were flying around a lot and I wasn’t able to get a count of them. Here are a bunch of them by Paddy’s rock, just above Jenner.cormorants


It was just after six PM as we approached Jenner. We were both tired out and were barely able to get out of our boats when we got to the boat ramp. About seven hours of kayaking.

It was a long, but nice trip. We hadn’t expected the river’s mouth to be closed, which caused the river to not have much current in the estuary, so we had to paddle more then we thought we’d have too.

That’s it for another fine day on the Russian River kayaking.

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