Federal government declines to list Lake Sammamish kokanee as endangered

October 4, 2011

Population is in decline, but local stock is not ‘distinct’ from other kokanee

Federal officials decided dwindling Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon do not qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act, prompting a chorus of disapproval from local officials.

The species’ decline concerned U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service officials, but did not merit the fish being listed under the act. The agency announced the decision Oct. 3.

The once-abundant kokanee declined in recent decades, perhaps due to construction near creeks, increased predators, disease or changes in water quality.

In recent years, the number of salmon in the late-fall and early-winter run has dwindled to fewer than 1,000 in some seasons. Kokanee return to only a handful of creeks — Ebright, Laughing Jacobs and Lewis — to spawn. Scientists estimated the total 2010 run at 58 fish, including the 40 kokanee spawned at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery in a last-ditch effort to save the species.

The decision came after the agency spent four years to review the Lake Sammamish stock’s health.

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Trout Unlimited meeting is Sept. 14 in Issaquah

August 30, 2011

The public is invited to the Sept. 14 meeting of the Bellevue-Issaquah Chapter of Trout Unlimited. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Issaquah Brewhouse, 35 W. Sunset Way.

Dave McCoy, a Trout Unlimited member and owner of Emerald Water Anglers, is the featured speaker. He will show photo slides to reveal fly fishing opportunities in Western Washington.

There is no price for admission.

Trout Unlimited hosts fly-casting clinic at Beaver Lake Park

August 2, 2011

The Trout Unlimited Bellevue-Issaquah chapter is holding a fly-casting clinic from 5:30-8 p.m. Aug. 10 at the Beaver Lake Park pavilion. The clinic is free.

At the clinic, beginning anglers may learn basic casting techniques while seasoned anglers can fine-tune their skills or learn new techniques from professional fly casters.

Anglers can bring their own gear or test new casting gear and systems.

Saltwater fishing for cutthroat trout

June 21, 2011

Most of my cutthroat trout fishing has been in fresh water, so when it was announced that Dan Lemaich, a salty staff member of our local Creekside Angling fly fishing shop, would give a talk about salt water cutthroat trout angling at a Bellevue-Issaquah Trout Unlimited meeting, I marked it on my calendar.

Dallas Cross

Coastal cutthroat trout are somewhat bipolar. Some of them spend their entire lives in fresh water while their siblings mysteriously opt to grow up in fresh water, go to sea and then feed in both fresh and salt water. They all return to spawn in shallow streams. Sea-run cutthroat trout are quite specific to the Northwest Pacific region, from Alaska to Northern California, but are especially abundant in Puget Sound.

For a long time, not much attention was paid to cutthroat trout, and they were below the radar for fish census or management by Washington state fishery officials. In some areas, the cutthroat were mistaken for small steelhead and called “half-pounders” by fishermen. When salmon returns became anemic, more attention was paid and salt-water cutthroat were increasingly sought by sport fishermen.

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What’s in the lake — mud eels?

April 5, 2011

There are recollections in the archives of the Issaquah History Museums from longtime residents about eels in Issaquah Creek. Some tell of using or selling them for fishing bait.

Dallas Cross

Years ago, I watched folks gathering “mud eels” for bait from the flats near the mouth of Issaquah creek. Knowing that plastic worms are good lures for Lake Sammamish bass, I wanted to know more about what the artificial bait might be imitating. Could it be eels?

Upon inquiry, I found that no eels, the elongated fish with a toothy mouth, are in the Lake Sammamish watershed. So, what are these aqueous critters?

The answer was partially provided last April, when I volunteered to trap and count returning kokanee salmon fry for the Bellevue-Issaquah Chapter of Trout Unlimited. On several of our trap pulls, small, snake-like creatures were captured along with the kokanee fry. They looked like eels and I put one in a glass jar to examine and photograph.

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Press Editorial

January 4, 2011

2011 goals: Building on success of 2010

Issaquah reached numerous milestones in 2010.

In the steps to preserve Park Pointe on Tiger Mountain, the city inched closer to a lasting environmental legacy. The bevy of road upgrades offered real transportation solutions and quality-of-life improvements for Issaquah residents.

Though many of the main city issues attracted attention in 2010, the ramifications should continue to be felt in 2011.

Here, then, is our list of our goals — some significant and some small — for the year ahead: Read more

Concerns about coho salmon persist as hatchery spawns other species

November 30, 2010

Jed Varney (left) and John Kugen spawn a Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon last month at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. Contributed

Lake Sammamish kokanee conservation program continues

The small coho salmon run has left the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery about 750,000 eggs short.

The inexplicable shortfall means the hatchery must truck in coho eggs from the Wallace Creek Hatchery in Sultan in order to meet the 1.2 million-egg goal for the year.

Biologists remain puzzled about the decline in coho, but poor ocean conditions could be a factor in the drop-off.

Teams at the Issaquah hatchery had trapped 475 coho — and did not allow any fish to pass upstream to spawn — by late November. The number represents a fraction of the fish the hatchery spawns during a normal coho run. Read more

Set off on ‘Gill’-iver’s Travels to experience salmon migration

October 3, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. Oct. 3, 2010

In addition to the Roving Fish Fan hunt at the Salmon Days Festival, the downtown Issaquah Salmon Hatchery features “Gill”-iver’s Travels — a chance for children and adults to assume the role of a migrating salmon.

(Trust us, nobody dies at the end of the journey.)

The experience starts at the entrance of the hatchery, 125 W. Sunset Way. Then, participants head to booths to answer questions about salmon, the environment and water quality. Show the passport to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife at the end of the journey to receive a fishy treat.

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Trout Unlimited casts for kokanee at Salmon Days

September 28, 2010

The Trout Unlimited Bellevue-Issaquah Chapter will have a booth at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery during Salmon Days.

The booth will display educational information about the chapter’s long-standing goal to conserve and restore runs of Issaquah’s heritage freshwater salmon, the kokanee.

Young kokanee will be displayed in an aquarium. Volunteers will be there to discuss the life history of kokanee, fry trapping for census information, habitat restoration, youth conservation education and sonic fish tagging with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Salmon Days kokanee T-shirts will be given for donations or new membership registrations in local organizations involved in saving Lake Sammamish kokanee.

Off The Press

May 4, 2010

Elks poker players help raise funds for charities

David Hayes Press reporter

I’ve been playing poker now long enough and well enough that I could theoretically take the next step — go pro.

One problem is I never set aside my winnings in a separate poker bankroll account to fund entering other poker events. I usually end up spending it on regular activities, so I’m always starting over from square one.

The other problem is I enjoy where I’m playing now — the Elks Lodge. However, based on the declining numbers showing up at our poker leagues, fewer players are doing likewise. The biggest exodus of players is due quite literally to them moving out of town. We’ve lost others — one who decided to concentrate on family, one to natural causes and three because when one broke up with another, all three stopped showing.

I could take my money elsewhere and play in bigger events with bigger payouts. But casinos have a rake of all the action that they get to keep.

I prefer the Elks’ procedure — the rake they keep ends up going to charity.

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