Salmon-watching season may be somewhat shortened this year, but
recent rains have encouraged large numbers of fish to swim into
streams on the Kitsap Peninsula and probably elsewhere in Puget
A coho salmon tries to leap into an
outlet from the salmon-rearing ponds at Otto Jarstad Park in Gorst
Kitsap Sun photo by Meegan M. Reid
It appears that coho and chum salmon were hanging out in
saltwater waiting for adequate rains, which arrived last week. I
covered the issue fairly extensively in a story in
Friday’s Kitsap Sun.
Normally, the peak of the chum salmon run occurs around
Thanksgiving on the east side of the Kitsap Peninsula. Jon Oleyar,
a biologist with the Suquamish Tribe, tells me that the salmon run
is probably now on the decline, with dead and dying fish beginning
to be seen today in larger numbers.
For most of this week (at least after tomorrow night), the rains
will probably hold off for awhile. Check out the forecast from the
National Weather Service. Drier weather could help the streams
Salmon-watchers on the Kitsap Peninsula have seen a decline in
coho in recent years, and biologists say it is probably because
streamflows have become more “flashy.” More roads and other
impervious surfaces carry water to the streams faster and allow for
less infiltration. Losing infiltration means lower summer flows,
which are important for coho, because coho remain in freshwater the
first summer of their lives.
Anyway, this year we’re seeing more coho in the local streams.
Jon tells me they are mainly hatchery fish, probably strays from
the Suquamish Tribe’s net pens in Agate Passage. Those fish were
meant to improve fishing for both tribal and sport fishers, but
some got away. Whether the coho hatchery strays are beneficial or
harmful to the wild runs remains a subject of debate.
Some of the best salmon-viewing spots are shown on an
interactive map that Angela Hiatt and I made four years ago. See
Kitsap Salmon runs.
If anyone knows of other good spots with public access, please
share them in the comments section.
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