By Judy Pickens
Special to West Seattle Blog
Despite perfect conditions, salmon watchers on Fauntleroy Creek recorded only two coho spawners this year, both at the mouth.
The watch began October 18, when a record 60 people attended the annual drumming to call in spawners. Nearly 30 volunteers kept watch through November 15.
“We had more singles and doubles and families watching this year than in any year I can remember,” said veteran watcher Dennis Hinton. “We even had an artist who came many times in search of the right light for a painting.”
Without the spawners needed to host an “open creek” event, watchers nonetheless welcomed 45 visitors to get a close look at the fish ladder and spawning habitat.
The two spawners they documented were at the mouth near the ferry pier, not in the spawning reach on the east side of Fauntleroy Way SW. He speculated that the female may have ventured into fresh water, then fallen back to the tidepool where she died, near where a male carcass was later found.
High winds and tides caused logs to jam tightly under the ferry pier, which may have prevented fish from reaching the creek. Volunteer Mark Sears led two work parties to untangle the logs (photo above) and checked every day when tides were especially high to see of more logs were blocking.
The last time the creek had zero spawners was 2015. Coho and chum numbers were also low in Longfellow and Piper’s creeks, as was the sport catch in the Sound.
Last year’s count was 19; in 2018, 18. A record was set in 2012, when watchers counted 274.