Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lake Sammamish Kokanee Salmon Supplementation Program

Our office, along with King County and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), has been working to restore the Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon population. This population once numbered in the thousands, but recent adult returns have been less than 100 fish. Currently, kokanee primarily spawn in three small tributaries: Laughing Jacobs Creek, Ebright Creek, and Lewis Creek.

Ebright Creek
One major component of the recovery effort is a supplementation program to improve survival rates from the egg stage to the fry stage. Adult kokanee will be spawned at the Issaquah State Fish Hatchery (SFH). Half of the eggs will be incubated at Issaquah SFH and half will be taken to Quilcene National Fish Hatchery where they will be reared to the “eyed-egg” stage of their life. After all eggs have reached the eyed-egg stage, they will be placed in experimental rearing systems at Issaquah SFH.  Each experimental rearing system will use water taken from their natal stream to provide adequate imprinting. Shortly after the kokanee fry have emerged from their eggs, WDFW and King County staff will then plant the kokanee fry back into their natal creek.

We began this year’s supplementation effort last week. King County and WDFW field crews looked for fish in the three spawning creeks. During the first week, crews captured 6 males and 1 female in Ebright Creek.  The female was successfully spawned with 2 of the males; the other males were saved for later spawning.  This week (week 2), an additional 6 females and 8 males were collected from Ebright Creek and 1 female and 2 males from Laughing Jacobs Creek; all fish were successfully spawned. Over the next 2 months, the crews will be collecting adults once or twice each week.

Female kokanee salmon

Male kokanee salmon