Spawn is on as first salmon reach Issaquah hatchery

August 28, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

Salmon spawning season at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery started early Aug. 25 as a hatchery docent-in-training spotted the first fish, a small chinook in Issaquah Creek.

The recent drop in temperature aided the salmon on a long journey from the Pacific Ocean to Issaquah Creek. Cool conditions often prompt the fish to depart Lake Sammamish and head upstream.

What to know

The iconic Issaquah Salmon Hatchery along Issaquah Creek offers a prime viewing opportunity to see spawning salmon. The hatchery, 125 W. Sunset Way, includes Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery volunteers on site offering tours on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. during the fall spawning season. Salmon spawning season drop-in tours start Sept. 1 and run through Nov. 10.

By the numbers

2011 Issaquah Creek salmon run

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery crews and Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery members spawned chinook and coho salmon.


  • 2,954 adult chinook trapped
  • 1.7 million eggs collected
  • 1,018 adult chinook allowed upstream to spawn


  • 4,460 adult coho trapped
  • 1.2 million eggs collected
  • 1,032 coho allowed upstream to spawn

Source: Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery

The initial fish, a female, or hen, appeared just below the weir across the creek at the hatchery. The arrival occurred as Friends of the Issaquah Salmon conducted training for docents and other volunteers.

Late August is a typical arrival time for spawning salmon. The hatchery recorded the initial fish last year, a pair of chinook, early Aug. 23.

In mid-July 2010, in the earliest arrival in recent memory, a chinook reached the hatchery. The next year, the hatchery greeted a 25-pound chinook hen Aug. 25.

State fisheries experts expect a more robust chinook salmon return but a smaller coho salmon return to Puget Sound streams this year.

Overall, a state Department of Fish and Wildlife forecast released in February calls for 732,363 coho to return to local streams — or 249,000 fewer coho than the 2011 forecast.

The projected total for the Lake Washington watershed, including Issaquah Creek, is 17,598 fish.

Officials predicted for the summer and autumn chinook salmon returns to Puget Sound to total about 224,165 fish — fewer than the 243,000 chinook projected for 2011.

The chinook return is comprised mostly of hatchery fish. The projected total return to the Issaquah hatchery is 4,728 chinook.

The annual forecast announcement is the initial indicator of salmon returns to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery along Issaquah Creek. The hatchery spawns and raises coho and chinook.

In order to formulate the annual forecasts, scientists measure the number of wild smolts, or juvenile salmon, departing freshwater at locations around Puget Sound. Hatcheries also record the number of juvenile salmon released each year.

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