The River Parkway Trust’s restoration team was working near the Sycamore Island Floodplain Enhancement Project in early October. While removing an invasive plant species called sesbania or scarlet wisteria from the banks of the river, two of the Trust’s technicians discovered something incredible. Salmon spawning in the San Joaquin River.

They captured the photo included here of a young male salmon, also known as a Jack, that likely came back to the San Joaquin early to spawn.

Spawning marks the end of a salmon’s life cycle. The fish’s body begins to break down as they make their journey back to the river in which they were born. They die shortly after spawning. As the carcass breaks down, it releases bacteria and nutrients into the river supporting the macroinvertebrates that will provide food for the juvenile salmon as they grow.

Soon, the juvenile salmon that were born at Sycamore Island will be captured and transported downstream so they can make their way to the ocean. After several years, those fish will return to the river to spawn and perpetuate the cycle.

This discovery of salmon at Sycamore Island demonstrates how projects can work symbiotically to improve the overall health of the riparian system. In the reach where the salmon were discovered, the Trust is currently engaged in projects to remove invasive plant species and restore the floodplain. These projects are improving the health of the river, which benefits the San Joaquin River Restoration Program.