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 Kokanee Project   

Lewis Creek Kokanee - Photo by Bill Priest, King County

Lake Sammamish Kokanee

After carefully studying the needs of our area (the Lake Washington/Sammamish Basin and the Snoqualmie River Basin) our chapter decided to help the Lake Sammamish kokanee, the fish closest to the brink.   A clear victim of habitat degradation, this poor step sister  of the mighty Chinook and the revered Steelhead, receives little or no attention in the public’s eye.  We, the Bellevue/Issaquah Chapter of Trout Unlimited, are committed to the restoration of these important and unique fish right here in our back yard.  We began by partnering with Save Lake Sammamish(SLS), the Boy Scouts, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to conduct a basic fry out migration monitoring of Lewis Creek.  From March 3rd, 2007 well into May volunteers watched out for these minute fish. This effort logged over 500 volunteer hours with almost 1000 fry counted, and showed our commitment to do what we can for the fish and the watershed.

We have since expanded our efforts. Partnering with King County, WDFW, the Snoqualmie Tribe, USFWS, the Cities of Bellevue, Issaquah, Redmond, and Sammamish, Save Lake Sammamish, Friends of Pine Lake Creek and other concerned citizens to form the Kokanee Work Group (KWG), we have continued fry trapping on Lewis Creek, now expanded to Ebright Creek, helped tag fish with sonar tags to track movement and habits in the lake, worked on habitat restoration including culvert replacement, in stream repair, and invasive plant removal and replacement, started a supplementation program and will be starting stream and spawner surveys this fall.

With good scientific data, cultivating a spirit of cooperation and partnership with other stakeholders, and getting the community to take ownership of their resources it is, we believe, not only possible, but necessary to protect and restore our cherished fisheries.  The alternative is not acceptable to the people of Washington.  We invite you all to participate in our efforts, whether it be by volunteering or by making a cash donation, and join us in what author David James Duncan referred to as “the century of restoration”.

The USFWS has decided against listing the late run Lake Sammamish kokanee as an endangered species.  Read here ... 

More detail about the reasoning behind the decision not to provide an Endangered Species Listing for the Lake Sammamish kokanee can be found at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service web site. .    Read here ... 

One of the first steps in getting this project started was to install the fish trap to catch the outmigrating fry.  Here's a  video of the trap being installed in Lewis Creek - Installing Kokanee fry trap in Lewis Creek (5.4Mb)

The following web pages contain a wealth of information about Lake Sammamish and the Kokanee salmon.

  • King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks (DNRP) has been involved with Kokanee in Lake Sammamish for many years.  A set of reports, studies and technical documents can be found here
  • Several King County DNRP presentations about Kokanee can be found here

Project Update - 2012

In 2012, our chapter has continued to work with various governmental agencies to restore and enhance the Kokanee salmon population in Lake Sammamish and its watershed.  To date, our work has included:
  • Fry Trapping - During March and April, we spent over 140 hours operating fry traps on Lewis and Ebright Creeks.   During that time we counted 3,368 fry on Ebright Creek and 1,107 fry on Lewis Creek.  In November and December, the in-stream counts of spawning kokanee were good, so we expected that, so long as there were no major winter storms, the fry counts would be much better than in 2011, which were very bad.  Fortunately, this turned out to be true.  Counting was done only three days a week on each creek, so that the actual number of fry in each creek were much greater than our counts., which served as an indicator of the total run sizes.
  • Ebright Creek culvert removal - We are working with Wally Pereyra, who owns property on Ebright Creek, to remove a culvert on his property that has been causing flooding problems during high water events and is preventing migrating kokanee and other salmonids from reaching spawing grounds further upstream.  The new culvert will help to increase the number of kokanee successfully spawing in Ebright Creek.  Photos of this important project can be found here. 
  • Kokanee information signage on Lake Sammamish - Currently, kokanee cannot be retained by fishermen on Lake Sammamish.  We are working with the Boy Scouts to put information signs at boat launching sites on Lake Sammamish.  These signs point out the differences between Kokanee and Cutthroat trout, which should aid fishermen in identifying these two species that are found in the lake.
  • Fun Run - On October 20, we are presenting a 5 and 10K fun run at Lake Sammamish State Park as a means of raising funds needed to support our Kokanee-related work.  More information on the fun run can be found on our home page.

Project Update - 2010

In 2010, our chapter will continue to work in partnership with King County, the City of Issaquah, the City of Sammamish, Save Lake Sammamish and the Washington Dept of Fish & Wildlife to restore Kokanee in Lake Sammamish.  Our involvement will include:

  • Fry Trapping - We will continue to trap out-migrating fry on Lewis Creek and will establish a new trap on Ebright Creek.  The in-stream counts of spawing kokanee on both of these streams have been significant this winter.  So far, mother nature has been cooperative with no large rain events, which could cause scouring on these creeks, so we expect that the counts should be higher than normal this year.  We will begin to operate the fry traps in March and will continue until May.  Trapping will occur three nights per week.  We need lots of help to man these traps during this time period and more volunteers are needed.  Please contact our president, Mark Getzendaner at getzendaner@msn.com if you would like to help.
  • Participate in the Kokanee Working Group (KWG) - We are continuing to support projects that are being undertaken by the KWG.  Link - http://www.kingcounty.gov/environment/animalsAndPlants/salmon-and-trout/kokanee/documents.aspx
  • Issaquah Salmon Days - We will have a booth during this heavily-attended event.  Our focus will be on educating the public about the Kokanee Salmon in Lake Sammamish.

Project Update - 2009

During 2009, we are continuing with our efforts to enhance the Kokanee population in Lake Sammamish.  We have on-going involvement in the following areas:

  • Participate in the Kokanee Working Group.  This group, which was formed in 2007, is a multi-stakeholder group with representatives from the City of Issaquah, state of Washington agencies, private entities and concerned groups such as Trout Unlimited.  The Kokanee Work Group's goal is to find ways to conserve and enhance the population of Kokanee Salmon in Lake Sammamish.
  • Fry trapping.  We started fry trapping in Lewis Creek in 2007 (see the above video) and have continued since.  With assistance from the Lake Washington School district vocational arts program, we now have two fry traps, with the goal being to trap outmigrating Kokanee fry in Lewis Creek and one other creek in the Lake Sammamish basin.  Beginning in  late March of this year and continuing through mid-May, we have been trapping fry in Lewis Creek on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday evenings.  To view an up-to-date count of fry, click here.   We always need volunteers, so if you are interested in participating in this activity, please contact Mark Getzendaner, chapter president.
  • Fish tagging in Lake Sammamish.  In April and May, we are working with Hans Berge, an ecologist with the King County Watershed and Ecological Assessment Team, to gather data on the travels of fish (Kokanee, Cutthroat, Bass and others) within Lake Sammamish.  Our participation involves catching fish and delivering them to Hans, who inserts a tracking tag into each fish.  After the fish recovers, it is released into the lake and then its travels will be recorded on by a series of hydrophones which have been placed in the lake. To view a low-quality video of the fish tagging operation, click here.   To view a medium-quality video of the fish tagging operation, click here.

Project Update - 2007

The Lake Sammamish kokanee are one of the last truly native salmonids left in the Lake Washington/Sammamish basin. These kokanee are unique to Lake Sammamish and are currently at great risk due to habitat loss and worsening environmental conditions. They currently spawn in just a handful of streams in central/south Lake Sammamish including Lewis, Laughing Jacob, Ebright, and Pine Lake Creeks. The early run of these fish ran up Issaquah Creek, but was officially declared extinct in 2003. These are among the latest running of salmons, appearing in late November and running well into January.

The Bellevue/Issaquah Chapter of Trout Unlimited, in partnership with Boy Scout Eagle Scout candidate Colin Wick, Troop 677, Save Lake Sammamish, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the City of Issaquah have just completed the first ever survey of out migrating Lake Sammamish late run kokanee on Lewis Creek, a tributary of Lake Sammamish. This project spanned over 2 months and took up well over 500 hours of volunteer time. The baseline data collected will be used to assess the number of fry in the system, the timing of their run, and 4 years from now, percent that survived to return to spawn. It is critical information if we are to save this special fish.We plan on expanding this program to other spawning streams in the basin.

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About Us
This is the Bellevue/Issaquah Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
For a list of 2014 officers and to read meeting minutes, 
go here ...

Chapter membership total - 630

To see a calendar of 2014's activities  go here ...
Read Dallas Cross' article explaining where the Kokanee have gone Read here...

Support our chapter by buying gear from J. Stockard Fly Fishing (http://www.JSFlyFishing.com) thru the end of July. Ten percent of your purchase will be rebated to the club. Use coupon code TU109

Read Dallas Cross' article on sturgeon fishing opportunities Read here...

Read Dallas Cross' article on fly fishing for Kamloops Trout Read here...

Read Dallas Cross' article on how fly tying is healing veterans. Read here...

Read Dallas Cross' article on waste water treatment issues. Read here...

USFWS denies endangered species listing for Lake Sammamish Kokanee Read here...

Read Dallas Cross' article on fishing for Cutthroat trout in saltwater Read here...

Read Dallas Cross' article on fishing for kings in Lake Sammamish Read here...

Our chapter has received an Embrace-a-Stream grant from TU. Read here...

Here's an op-ed in the Oregonian relating to protection of endangered salmon stocks from California to British Columbia.  Pretty interesting! To read click here...

Read Dallas Cross' latest article about fishing access rights and Washington stream access laws Read here...
Kokanee Project
Find out what we're doing to help restore the Kokanee population in Lake Sammamish here.

Read a copy of the latest plan for supplementation of late-run kokanee in Lake Sammamish Click here...

Here's Hans Berge's Kokanee presentation from the general meeting on Feb 10, 2010 Click here...

Read a Seattle Times article about Mark Taylor's work on the Kokanee project Click here...

King County Council urges protection of Lake Sammamish Kokanee Click here...

An article in the Sound News discusses the plight of Kokanee in Lake Sammamish Click here...

Bear Creek Project
Read about a new project whose goal is to enhance lower Bear Creek in Redmond Click here

Trout Unlimited is working with Water Tenders to measure the effect of pollutants from SR520 on Bear Creek water quality Read more here
Fishing Report
Where are the fishing hotspots? More importantly, where are the fish?! We're not telling! No, really, go here.
Conservation Organizations

Save Lake Sammamish

Mountains to Sea Greenway

Green Shorelines for Lake Washington and Sammamish

Sno-King Watershed Council

TU Youth
Read about Marvista  School's "Salmon in the Classroom" project...

Kids, do you have the Boy Scout fly-fishing merit badge
 More about fly-fishing merit badge

Cast for Kids Events -  September 8 - Gene Coulon Park.  For more information, click

Make a donation to Bellevue-Issaquah Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Donate.

Member Info
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 Save Lake Sammamish

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