Migrating chinook reach Issaquah Salmon Hatchery

August 30, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

The autumn salmon spawning season in Issaquah Creek started early Aug. 23 as chinook reached the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.

Hatchery Foreman John Kugen spotted a pair of female chinook, or hens, in the creek just north of the bridge across Issaquah Creek on the hatchery grounds and alerted Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery Executive Director Jane Kuechle at about 9 a.m.

“I was here and I was kind of fiddling around the office and all of the sudden he popped his head and he said, ‘The chinook are here!’” she said.

The announcement came as a tour group explored the hatchery. Docents led the guests to the creek bank to see the fish.

“I’m just excited to see the fish come and for things to get started around here,” Kuechle said.

Overnight rain prompted chinook to travel upstream to the hatchery. Darin Combs, Issaquah hatchery manager, noticed the rain and returned to the hatchery to raise the gate so salmon could not pass upstream Aug. 22.

State fish biologists estimated the summer and fall chinook salmon returns to Puget Sound to reach about 240,000 fish — more than the 226,000 fish projected for last year.

FISH volunteers and hatchery workers spotted the first salmon of the year, a chinook hen, in Issaquah Creek in mid-July 2010 — more than a month before the fish usually arrive.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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