2020 strikes again: Coho are near-no-show in Fauntleroy Creek

(Photo by Dennis Hinton: Mark Sears led other volunteers in breaking up log jams under the ferry pier so that any spawners might get through)

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.

6 Replies to "2020 strikes again: Coho are near-no-show in Fauntleroy Creek"

  • Flo B November 17, 2020 (4:18 pm)

    Something fishy going on!

  • lincolnfisherman November 17, 2020 (4:49 pm)

    one almost made it. this was a coho head found on 11/7.

  • Sad November 17, 2020 (6:35 pm)

    I fish all over the PNW in the river systems. Some rivers this year have had horrible runs of coho,  while others are ok to good. We are looking at warmer waters in the oceans,  illegal fishing from foreign countries, and of course Fukushima in Japan.  All of these are making a huge issue/ problem for salmon/ fish all over.   Last year a trawler was caught with over 20 million pounds of salmon. Said to be headed to the PNW. Just my two cents for what it is worth. Wear your mask

    • Mark Dierking November 18, 2020 (12:29 pm)

      As a former Alaskan commercial fisherman I read w/ great interest your comment: “Last year a trawler was caught with over 20 million pounds of salmon.” I did a search  with multiple variations and found no evidence.   Please provide a reference for your  2 cent statement.  Otherwise, you are repeating  something false and misleading  you heard. That is a fact.

  • Wall Street Carpetbagger November 18, 2020 (6:01 am)

    Man, this is too sad. :(

  • VBD November 18, 2020 (9:16 am)

    Very sad.  I look at the creek every time I walk my dog by the overlook, hoping for a fish.Also, the Fukushima accident has had no significant effect on N American salmon runs.   And the fish are no more radioactive than they were before.  But over fishing, climate change and habitat loss are indeed taking a toll.

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