ISSAQUAH, Wash. -- As the sun set over Laughing Jacobs Creek near Issaquah, a convoy of trucks rolled in. This is a vital kokanee salmon stream and tonight is release night.
Ten thousand tiny kokanee fry are being introduced to the stream of their ancestors. They are the offspring of salmon that returned to spawn in this creek last year and hopes are high they will add to a growing, more stable population of kokanee in Lake Sammamish.
This is the first time in the creek, but they know the water very well. They were raised in it. Workers from King County and the Washington State Fish and Wildlife hatchery in Issaquah have been collecting water from kokanee streams in the area and bringing it back to the hatchery to put in the pens with the young kokanee.
Biologists believe young salmon do better in the native streams. If they are raised in it in the hatchery, they will feel comfortable when released in it. They also release them at night in hopes predator fish won’t be able to see them.
In this case it was Laughing Jacobs Creek in Issaquah.
This stream produced a healthy return last year. Hundreds are coming back to a system now that in some past years hosted as few as 30 or 40.
The goal is for many more and a coalition of King County, State Fish and Wildlife, fishing groups and land owners are all on board. If the trend continues there are hopes that someday there will be enough kokanee in Lake Sammamish that people can start catching them.