From early March to late June members of our chapter trap, count and release Kokanee Salmon fry as they return to Lake Sammamish. Starting at sunset on Lewis, Laughing Jacobs and Ebright creeks the volunteers lower traps into the streams so that a majority of the water in the streams flows through the trap. The Kokanee fry are caught in a catch basin. Every hour the traps are cranked out of the water and the fry are counted. They are the size of a small pine needle with eyes which makes it very delicate work to get an accurate count without damaging the fish. At least three cycles are repeated to get the most accurate counts. In between the counting times, the volunteers get to sit on the shores of Lake Sammamish and enjoy other wildlife that inhabit the lake like heron, otters, a variety of species of ducks and even the occasional beaver.
The work to recover the Kokanee is much larger than just our TU group. The Kokanee Work Group (KWG) is an ad hoc collaborative group formed in 2007 to identify the causes for the decline of native kokanee in Lake Sammamish and the key actions to turn around that decline, and then foster implementation of those actions. The goals of the KWG encompass returning the kokanee population to robust health and ultimately re-establishing a fishery for kokanee on the lake. The KWG membership includes watershed residents, each of the five local jurisdictions in the Lake Sammamish watershed, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington State Parks, the Snoqualmie Tribe, Trout Unlimited, Friends of Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, Save Lake Sammamish, Friends of Pine Lake, and additional stakeholders.
Our chapter worked with the staff from Trout Unlimited national to raise funds from private and public sources to employ a full time person to carry out the projects outlined by the KWG. Resumes are currently being reviewed for the person will lead this effort. We are very excited by this because it will greatly accelerate the pace of starting, working and completing projects identified by the KWG to improve passage and habitat for Kokanee.
Kokanee Signage Project -
As part of our effort the educate the general population and the fishing community, we have created signs that outline our efforts to help restoring the Kokanee population in Lake Sammamish and show the differences between Kokanee and Cutthroat trout. At this time, fishing for and retaining Kokanee in Lake Sammamish is prohibited, so its important that the people who use the lake are aware of differences between Kokanee Salmon and Cutthroat trout.
Currently, we have installed the signs at the Issaquah Fish Hatchery and at the boat ramp in Lake Sammamish State Park. We are actively looking for other locations for the signs. Take a look at the signs -