West Seattle scene: Salmon spotted in Longfellow Creek

The election results aren’t going to change, so we’re moving on to a few other things – like this photo texted tonight by John M, two salmon he reports spotting in Longfellow Creek, near Dragonfly Pavilion. Longfellow is tougher on salmon than Fauntleroy Creek (which hasn’t seen spawners yet this fall), but there’s always hope – and it’s a reminder about doing what you can to minimize toxic runoff.

ADDED WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON: John has sent two video clips – we’ll work on embedding them later, but for now, here are links to these fairly short clips (which might help with the ID questions that have come up in comments) – here and here. (The end of the second clip shows one fish’s full colors.)

32 Replies to "West Seattle scene: Salmon spotted in Longfellow Creek"

  • AJP November 5, 2013 (11:38 pm)

    Yay salmon!!!

  • B-Check November 5, 2013 (11:51 pm)

    Wow, great photo! Those are some pretty tough salmon as they have to traverse about a half mile through a pipe (under the steel plant property)to come out where the creek daylights near the fitness center on Andover.

    For those interested, I’ll co-leading an educational walk along the Longfellow Creek trail the morning of Sat 11/6 to showcase the beauty of the environment, while discussing the challenges of historic/current pollution, restoration efforts, and what neighbors can do to be more engaged in the health of Longfellow Creek.

    Post a comment here if you’re interested, and I’ll share details once posted online.


  • kayo November 6, 2013 (7:07 am)

    Excellent news! I have lived in this neighborhood for quite a while and we saw salmon in that location probably 10+ years ago. We would definitely be interested in a walk to check it out. It has been fun to watch the creek landscape change over the years. One of our favorite places to go after a rainstorm to watch the creek.

  • Glenn November 6, 2013 (7:24 am)

    Do you know if these are wild or hatchery planted? I’m guessing hatchery… But do you know from which program?

  • JennyL November 6, 2013 (7:54 am)

    B-check, my family would like to join a walk Saturday morning too!

  • cjboffoli November 6, 2013 (9:25 am)

    I’m always excited to see WSB reader images of local wildlife, especially this interesting photo of spawning salmon in local streams. However, just a polite reminder that using electronic flashes to photograph wild animals can potentially be stressful and disruptive for them. Please tread lightly.

  • Tom November 6, 2013 (9:27 am)

    I’m not sure if this applies to Longfellow but I suspect it does. In Fauntleroy creek, they plant fry from the schools programs as well as occasionally from some individuals with hatching tanks. I think the school’s eggs come from one of the regional native hatcheries – maybe Issaquah? Don’t quote me on that.

    But since we’ve been told that Coho can be opportunistic on their selection of spawning streams, we’re never really sure how many returners were reared in any given urban creek. We like to think that the ones we see in Fauntleroy are our fishes but they don’t divulge much. They seem very busy!

  • Bob Simmons November 6, 2013 (10:10 am)

    But aren’t these Rainbow Trout? I doubt if they go to sea through the insufferable pipes mentioned in the story, but probably have the good sense to stay in the creek. Exult over the Rainbow and keep hoping for their sea going cousins to show up.

  • bill November 6, 2013 (10:32 am)

    I am pretty sure the fish in this photo are steelhead.

    • WSB November 6, 2013 (10:38 am)

      This brings back memories of fish-ID fights we used to have in TV (in the early years when TV actually cared about fish), let alone the argument over whether steelhead ARE salmon or not … ah, the early ’90s. Anyway: If anyone has seen them firsthand and cares to offer definitive ID, I’d be happy to correct anything in the copy that would subsequently be shown as incorrect … I’ve been looking up Longfellow info and seeing fall coho references, not steelhead, at least in the recent past. – TR

      • WSB November 6, 2013 (10:51 am)

        P.S. The North Delridge Neighborhood Council Google discussion group just featured a comment from someone referring to numerous salmon spawning in Longfellow Creek, FWIW.

  • Fiz November 6, 2013 (12:14 pm)

    We three are interested in joining the walk.

  • ACG November 6, 2013 (12:19 pm)

    The fish in the photo look like the spawning coho we get in Fauntleroy creek.

  • kjb November 6, 2013 (12:49 pm)

    Local schools have been releasing into Longfellow Creek for years – this is great news!

  • Jay Mirro November 6, 2013 (12:50 pm)

    For those interested, there are monthly volunteer events along Longfellow creek. We plant trees, pull out invasive, and clean trash. King conservation District and myself (Jay Mirro) have hosted events at the Brandon Street Natural Area for the last 8 years. Come down Saturday, November 16th, 10 – 2, for our regular 3rd Saturday event. Sign up at http://www.kingcd.org. Or just meet at SW Brandon St and 29th Ave SW.

    • WSB November 6, 2013 (1:08 pm)

      John, who shared the photo last night, has just sent two quick video clips that I hope to add to this story shortly. In one of them, one of the fish looks VERY red. Just seems like that has to be a salmon – no? Anyway, give me a few minutes to add the video.

  • Wes C. Adle November 6, 2013 (1:26 pm)

    Just went down to check it out. Spotted many (~40) salmon in the creek. Looks like they are spawning under the skeleton bridge. Really neat but people should probably keep their dogs leashed and away from the fish while they mate.

    • WSB November 6, 2013 (1:31 pm)

      Thank you for the update, Wes!

  • Cowpie November 6, 2013 (2:30 pm)

    WOW….I’ve volunteered for King County Salmon Watch for three years now. My assigned viewing location is about 50 meters upstream from the skeleton bridge. I’ve only seen one (1) dead 18-inch Coho the entire last 6 weeks. I can;t wait to ride home after work and check out the salmon. This is great news. I thought we’d have a horrible return this year.

    To Glenn…they do NOT release hatchery fish in Longfellow Creek.

  • Judy Pickens November 6, 2013 (4:12 pm)

    A couple of corrections:
    – Fry have NOT been released in Longfellow for years because of an ongoing, long-term study. The only release site in West Seattle is Fauntleroy.

    – Fauntleroy receives only fry reared through the Salmon in the Schools program. Individuals cannot get state permits to rear salmon and thus do not release any here.

    To clarify, fry coming into Fauntleroy Creek are from eggs fertilized at the state’s Soos Creek Hatchery near Auburn, then reared by students. These fish are suited to saltwater conditions in the Sound. Issaquah fish are suited to habitat conditions in Lake Washington, where they are released.

  • HDS November 6, 2013 (4:54 pm)

    Those aren’t salmon. The coloring and patterns are what you’d see in stay-at-home rainbow trout or cutthroats.

    Even steelhead (searun rainbows) don’t look like that.

  • CJ November 6, 2013 (6:31 pm)

    If this video is taken recently and they are spawning then those are coho. Trout spawn in the spring, not in the fall. Their coloration, size, and the small size of the creek also indicate coho. Hatchery origin coho have interesting colonization patterns.

    • WSB November 6, 2013 (6:33 pm)

      The video is from this morning.

  • David November 6, 2013 (7:05 pm)

    Yes those are steelhead, and not rainbow trout. Steelhead are usually larger,and go to the sea. If these were rainbow trout you would see them in fresh water all the time. And these you don’t.

  • Will November 7, 2013 (4:39 am)

    Great news and photo! Our class was there just a few weeks ago investigating the creek quality and its suitability as a salmon habitat.

  • B-Check November 7, 2013 (7:51 am)

    I should be able to send out details of the walk soon – it will start @ 10 AM and go until about noon, on 11/16. I should be able to post a link later today.

    I’ll let the fish experts debate on type of fish in the photo and their origin. My background is more around watersheds and environmental issues in general – regardless it’s a fun and informative hike! :)

    • WSB November 7, 2013 (7:59 am)

      Please send it to us too so we can get it in the calendar and promote it other ways too – editor@westseattleblog.com – TR

  • Clarence Pascua November 7, 2013 (9:33 am)

    This is an awesome sight. We were releasing fry in the mid 70’s with my Science teacher Mr. Hunter at Cooper Elementary. We would raise the fry in the Science class until they were mature enough to release into the creek.
    I’ve always imagined mature fish swimming up stream to spawn but, have never seen it. The best things we could find were craw fish and the occasional golf ball. My friends and I were always playing down in Longfellow creek building forts, rope swings and just running around in the woods. There use to be pheasants and quail down there as well. Maybe there could be an effort to release fowl back into that green space too!?

  • Jonathan November 7, 2013 (12:26 pm)

    Those are most likely hatchery-origin coho (strays from other systems, Duwamish, etc.) and definitely not steelhead. It is hard to tell from the photo above, but it looks like the fish in the foreground is missing it’s adipose fin (between the dorsal and caudal(tail)) fin, which indicates the fish was clipped as a juvenile in a hatchery. Great videos and photo!

  • JohnM November 7, 2013 (1:34 pm)

    Just in case you were thinking about going to see the fish, I went down to the creek this morning and because of all the rain we’ve been having the water level has risen significantly and if the fish are still there, you can’t see them. Was fun while it lasted!

  • B-Check November 7, 2013 (2:21 pm)

    For those interested in the walk, more details are available at the link below – please RSVP through Meet Up if you can, the walks get too spread out along the trail if more than 15 folks or so, and we can try to schedule another one if there’s enough interest:


  • westseattledood November 7, 2013 (2:32 pm)

    Rain is so very good for our spawners! It gives the coho (thanks Jonathan for pointing out adipose fin notched out!) deeper water to more easily advance up to competitive nesting areas.

    So cool.

    Also, from what I have been told, the pelting rain soothes the struggling coho as they die. I do so love how nature provides, if it is allowed to…

    I am going to go check ’em out! Thanks peeps for sharing!

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