Dozens of chinook reach Issaquah Salmon Hatchery

September 4, 2010

By Staff

NEW — 10 a.m. Sept. 4, 2010

Rains and cooler temperatures prompted dozens of mighty chinook salmon to return to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery to spawn.

Hatchery workers opened the fish ladder Sept. 3 to start collecting salmon for the spawning season.

Muckleshoot Tribe officials counted more than 8,000 chinook at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard. The tribe — the official keeper of salmon counts — estimates the return to be below average this year.

Most of the fish fighting the current at the locals will return to the Issaquah hatchery to spawn.

The hatchery raises chinook and coho salmon. Workers and Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery volunteers expect the 3- to 5-year-old fish to return to Issaquah Creek from through November or early December. Coho should start to arrive in the next few weeks.

Other salmon return to the Cedar River, Bear Creek and other streams in the Lake Sammamish and Lake Washington watersheds. Some return to a small hatchery at the University of Washington.

Issaquah hatchery visitors can watch the salmon swim upstream to spawn. The best spots to watch the salmon: the bridge across Issaquah Creek and the glassed-in fish ladder. Or see the salmon here.

FISH docents will be at the hatchery daily throughout the salmon season to answer questions from visitors. The volunteers can be identified by — what else? — their khaki fishing vests. The hatchery is free to the public during daylight hours every day.

Hatchery personnel expect to spawn 1,200 chinook and 1,200 coho, with a goal of collecting 2.4 million chinook and 1.2 million coho eggs.

The hatchery also plans to spawn kokanee from nearby Laughing Jacobs, Ebright and Lewis creeks in November. The kokanee eggs will be incubated at the Issaquah Hatchery and Quilcene National Fish Hatchery on the Olympic Peninsula, and then released as fry back into the local streams in April.

Chinook salmon started to trickle into the Issaquah hatchery in late August, about a month after the first salmon reached Issaquah Creek.

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