Seattle's Child

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Spawning female sockeye salmon swimming in a creek

Sockeye salmon are among the fish returning to spawn in Seattle area creeks this fall. iStock photo

Great places for families to watch salmon

It's spawning season! Great places to watch the action

 

Fall is here, and salmon are returning to streams and rivers around the Puget Sound. There are chinook, coho, chum, sockeye, steelhead, and cutthroat trout. They are heading for the streams where they hatched, so they can spawn. They’ll struggle through the current, compete with each other for mates and spawning spots, and then die in the streams (except for the steelhead, which usually returns to the sea). Here are some places to get a glimpse of this amazing journey.

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery

Watch from the bridge and viewing windows as salmon make their way up Issaquah creek.  You can visit the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery from September through November, dawn to dusk. In addition, trained docents from Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery will lead guided tours September 28 through early November. This year, only five people at a time can take the tour, and you have to book your tickets in advance. Tickets are still free, and times will be listed where you are registering. Visit www.issaquahfish.org for more information. The hatchery is located at 125 W. Sunset Way in Issaquah.

 

Cedar River, Renton

Join the Cedar River Salmon Journey and see spawning sockeye – bright red fish with green heads – at four sites along the Cedar River near Renton. There are no in person tours this year, but you can do a self-guided tour. Go to this website for tour details, and kids activities, and to request they send you a free pair of polarized glasses in the mail.

 

Hiram Chittenden Locks, Seattle

Closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Piper’s Creek, North Seattle

See hundreds of returning chum and dozens of coho make their way into Piper’s Creek at Carkeek Park throughout November and December. This is the easiest place to see spawning salmon within city limits.

 

Bear Creek, Redmond and Woodinville

View sockeye and chinook salmon in Bear Creek from late September to mid-November by visiting a short trail located behind Redmond’s Keep It Simple Farm, located at 12526 Avondale Road N.E. This is a self-guided tour, although you may also call to schedule a docent-led group tour (suggested donation of $5 per person). To schedule a tour email jamie@kisfarm.com. The farm isn’t the only salmon viewing area along the creek. A volunteer group called the Watertenders monitors the salmon, and will add details about viewing locations to this website.

Duwamish River, Tukwila and Seattle

Visit three sites – Codiga Park, Duwamish Gardens Park and North Wind’s Weir – on the Duwamish River to glimpse pinks, chinook, coho and chum migrate to upstream spawning beds. For more information, check out the county’s SalmonSEEson page. Check out www.DuwamishAlive.org for information about the river, restoration efforts, and special events.

 

Kelsey Creek, Bellevue

You may see salmon returning to Kelsey Creek in October at the Mercer Slough fish ladder south of Southeast 8th Street in Bellevue and at the west tributary at Kelsey Creek Farm Park. There is a webcam providing views on what is going on in the creek.  Call or email for updates before you go: 425-452-5200 or streamteam@bellevuewa.gov.

 

Lake Sammamish State Park, Issaquah

Lake Sammamish State Park has a boardwalk trail near where the lake feeds into Issaquah Creek. This where several salmon species make their final journey from the lake up the creek to the salmon hatchery and beyond. The best viewing occurs mid-September through mid-October, with numbers usually highest in early October. Here is a PDF with a map of the park. You will need a Discover Pass to park at the state park. There is an automated pay station in the parking lot where you can buy one.

 

Ebright and Lewis Creeks, near Lake Sammamish

If you are patient and lucky, you might see little kokanee. They are the same species as sockeye but spend their whole lives in freshwater streams and lakes. From early November through late January these native fish run at creeks feeding into Lake Sammamish. The runs have been quite small, and scientists are worried the Sammamish kokanee are near extinction. Here’s some more information, including a map showing where to look for them.

 

 

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