Fauntleroy Creek Salmon Watch 2019 is over. Here’s how many coho showed up

(Photo by Judy Pickens)

By Judy Pickens
Special to West Seattle Blog

Salmon Watch 2019 on Fauntleroy Creek closed Monday with a total of 19 coho spawners. A fish found October 17 amongst beach logs died at the creek mouth. The first live fish made its way into the spawning reach on October 21 – a day after the annual drumming to call them in.

Later that week, volunteer watchers spotted 30 robust fish schooling near the creek mouth, due south of the ferry pier in Fauntleroy Cove. At the same time, creek neighbor Mike Dey spotted sea grass choking the reach-to-the-beach channel and asked State Fish and Wildlife to assess the potential barrier. The agency secured the property owner’s permission for the Fauntleroy Watershed Council to remove it and the council called on Garden Cycles to do the job.

(Photo by Kersti Muul)

Prompted by the dead fish trapped by logs on his section of beach, Chuck Sawyer shifted them so they would no longer be a barrier for incoming spawners.

The 3-6 lb. fish came in daily until the last arrived on October 27. Only one pair are thought to have spawned and volunteers will monitor that location in mid winter to see if “home hatch” fry emerge from the gravel. The tally of 19 is one more than last year.

Visitors during this “silver anniversary” of spawning on the creek included 27 students from Taproot School, 67 people of all ages during an October 25 “open creek,” and another 31 area residents on other days.

“In my opinion, everyone who saw these spawners have a remarkable emergency effort to thank,” said long-time watcher Dennis Hinton. “From the watcher who saw spawners in distress to the team from Garden Cycles who dropped what they were doing to weed the channel and to the donors that made paying the bill possible from our stewardship fund, it came together like clockwork.”

Next up will be January delivery of eyed coho eggs from the Soos Creek Hatchery to West Seattle schools in the Salmon in the Schools program, for release as fry in May.

5 Replies to "Fauntleroy Creek Salmon Watch 2019 is over. Here's how many coho showed up"

  • junctioneer November 5, 2019 (9:38 pm)

    Still confused about how to actually see salmon. Is it that we watch fry in Fauntleroy Park later in the season, but this time of year look where the creek meets the beach?  Are we supposed to go just after high tide after heavier rains? The fish ladder “viewpoint” is too far away to observe anything and the rest is only accessible by private property, which leaves the beach.The “Salmon Seeson” King County website mentions this as still in season Longfellow Creek, perhaps we’ll have better luck there?

    • WSB November 5, 2019 (10:15 pm)

      Much of Longfellow’s daylighted section is in city parkland. Most of the sightings are near the Dragonfly Park bridge. Nobody formally watches Longfellow that I know of; Part of Fauntleroy Creek goes through public parkland too – where the releases are in spring – but the spawners don’t make it up that far.

  • Lincolnparklove November 6, 2019 (8:23 am)

    There is a program I heard about at Seward park. I thought there was a hatchery in that park as well. There is also a group growing bug larvae for the fish. My understanding is that you don’t  disturb areas were fish might have laid eggs or birds might nest . 

  • Judy November 6, 2019 (8:57 am)

    Your best bet to see salmon spawners in Fauntleroy Creek is to come to an “open creek.”  We hosted this year’s on Oct. 26, the day before the last spawner of the season arrived.  During the watch (mid through late October), volunteers are on duty during the five hours after high tide; that’s your best bet for catching the eye of a watcher from the viewpoint to be invited down.  If you must see fish in the fall (i.e., out-of-town visitors), your best bet is to get to Carkeek Park in north Seattle to see chum in Piper’s Creek.

  • Judy November 6, 2019 (10:15 am)

    Your best bet to see spawners in Fauntleroy Creek is to come to an “open creek” during spawning season, which closed Monday.  We hosted this year’s on Oct. 26 – a day before the last spawner arrived.  Volunteers watch during the 5 hours after high tide so your best bet on another day is to come to the viewpoint during that timeframe, catch the eye of a watcher, and be invited down.   Since we don’t always have spawners here, your absolute best bet to see spawners in the fall is to go to Carkeek Park in north Seattle to see chum in Piper’s Creek.

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