North Lake Washington Salmon Sightings – HOME

Salmon IdentificationData Sheets/EntryStream Maps/Teams
Sightings of the week!9_5 Mtg Video; SlidepdfWAIVER
Are you interested in joining us after 9/15? Great – we have room! Please review the information posted above (Especially the 9_5 materials above and the Waiver) and complete the form at the link below. Welcome!

Link for Joining SalmonWatchers after 9/15/20

Sockeye attempting to leap a beaver dam (left) and chinook salmon hanging out (right) in the UW Bothell wetlands. Photos: J.S. Jensen

Please check back regularly for updates and, of course, to submit your data.

September 19, 2020:  

We’ve had our first reports of Sockeye and Kokanee – both from Bear OtolithsCreek!  Also, some folks peering at otter scat have wondered what otoliths look like and whether they will be able to see them.  Here’s a picture so you know what they look like.  They will be smaller than a typical grain of rice.  Will you be able to see them in the otter scat?  Unlikely.  Given all the fish bones, crayfish shells, and who knows what else, the otoliths won’t be very conspicuous.  I usually find them by vigorously swirling that scat around in water and seeing what drops out (the otoliths are very dense).  It’s like panning for gold, except the nuggets you find are nuggets of information!

September 18, 2020, (Friday is the new) Sunday Summary:  

I’m sending the “Sunday” update out early because there’s a good chance of rain today and tomorrow.  So …

  • Safety first.  Some of the streams rise pretty quickly so if water levels look too high for safe viewing don’t survey – you’re unlikely to see much in high water anyway.
  • On the plus side, there are probably fish lingering in Kenmore Bay waiting for rainfall before moving up.  Soon after the water drops and clears is an excellent time to see who has moved up.  My guess is we’ll see our first sockeye/kokanee on this rainfall or not long after.

JackChin_NC_9_16_20Other news – We’re seeing chinook in the Sammamish and in North Creek.  I got a report of two live chinook in lower North Creek on Monday.  When I went to check it out on Tuesday I found two full size carcasses, plus a “jack” (see picture – the ruler is 6″).  Jacks are males who shorten their time at sea and come back at a small size (“Jills” are less common, for a variety of interesting reasons).  Jacks are less successful at courting females and fighting full size males, but this can be a successful strategy because they can “sneak” in and fertilize eggs laid by a female being courted by a larger male.  The Lake Washington system even has some “precocious parr” chinook – males that sexually mature at a really small size and attempt to mate before going out to the ocean.  As a reminder that size isn’t always a reliable way of identifying fish, the jack I found in North Creek is about the smallest chinook jack I’ve ever seen (though too big to be a precocious parr.  If I had a permit to collect chinook otoliths and good budget, we could find out for sure by looking at trace chemicals in the otoliths to tell whether or not it had been to sea).

As I mentioned earlier, high temperatures are a major, and worsening, problem for returning adults.  I put a temperature logger in lower North Creek that will record temperature every 15 minutes.

Several of you have reported smaller fish in your streams.  The fish in the 2-4 inch range are likely either coho or cutthroat (possibly chinook, though less likely).  I will try to get out with an underwater camera to see.  The larger small fish (look like 8-10” in the photos, but hard to tell), are probably larger cutthroat, but I’m hoping to get some pictures of those as well.  Here’s a link to an underwater video I took in Lyon Creek last November.  Almost all the fish you see are young coho, but one is a cutthroat (look for the spots on the dorsal fin):

Be sure to indicate that you have read and understood the waiver if you haven’t already.

UWB is interested in writing an article about the salmon watching project for the website and possibly doing some other outreach activities.  If you’d be up for being interviewed about the experience or your thoughts, let me know and I will pass your info along (don’t be shy!).  If you want to see what the web articles are like and hear more about fish (who wouldn’t) you can see a recent article they did on one of my other projects here:

I’ve gotten my first batch of otter poop from one of our intrepid salmon watchers – awesome.  Keep an eye out and let me know if you see more.  Otters tend to reuse the same places so it can be pretty conspicuous (to the dismay of many an absentee boat owner).

Cheers, and have a great weekend!  Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

September 13, 2020, Sunday Summary:  My plan is to send a Sunday update (also posted on the website) with news about our salmon watching activities.  I will send this to everybody who completed the initial interest survey whether or not you ended up participating.  If you’d like to be removed from the weekly e-mails please let me know.

A few bits of logistics …

  1. This afternoon I sent notes to everybody who completed the second survey and was specific about their preferred stream.  If you received one of these e-mails check to see if I have a location listed for you.  If I don’t please send me you location or let me know if you need help;
  2. Some people were willing to go to any of several streams.  I didn’t e-mail you, but here’s where we stand as far as watchers at streams: Thornton (2), McAleer (4), Lyon (3), Swamp (3), Waynita (1), North (6), Little Bear (2), Bear (1), May (1).  Any of these streams can absorb more watchers.  Swamp could use watchers in the lower regions (around the bowling alley; Squire’s landing is too deep); Little Bear could use watchers farther upstream (e.g. Rotary Park), Bear has lots of places to watch and will likely get the greatest number of fish (see the locations listed at Salmon Seeson).  I didn’t include Denny Creek on Finn Hill, but that might also be interesting.  There were some salmon spawning habitat enhancements done, but I haven’t heard about follow-up.  Go ahead and re-submit the second survey.
  3. If you completed the first survey but not the second, let me know if you’d like to join in by completing the second survey and indicating a preferred stream and location (in the comments) – we’d love to have you! Here’s a link to the survey:  And here’s a link to our webpage: (
  4. If you’ve decided not to participate this year – no worries!  Feel free to check out the website for updates and keep it in mind for next year.

OK – here’s what’s happened in the last week:

I’ve received a handful of reports – thanks!.  No sockeye or kokanee were seen (no surprise, it’s early.  They should show up soon). One chinook carcass was found (see attached picture) – unfortunately it was a female still full of eggs.  High temperatures in the Sammamish are a major challenge.

I found another chinook carcass in a drone survey at the mouth of Little Bear, but other than that I haven’t seen anything this week (I was out of town Monday through Friday).  I spoke with the regional salmon biologist for WDFW earlier this week.  They will be doing surveys for pre-spawning mortality of chinook in Bear and Cottage Lake creeks, but not in our streams.  I told him I would pass along our findings.

We should start seeing sockeye in a week or two in some streams.

I’m keen to find piles of otter scat for a student project.  If you see good amounts let me know – it will likely have  a combination of fish bones and crayfish shell.  I’ve attached a picture for you to enjoy.

Cheers, and thanks for the help! Jeff

September 7, 2020.  Our first reported salmon sighting was a dead chinook (note the lack of red and the spots on upper and lower tail).  Unfortunately, this is a female that has not yet spawned – you can tell from the full looking belly.  Pre-spawning mortality (PSM) is a major concern in urban streams.  There are various causes, including chemical pollution and heat stress.  The Sammamish, in particular, has dangerously high temperatures late in the summer.  WDFW biologists are survey Bear and Cottage Lake creeks for chinook PSM, but not most of our streams.  I have passed this information to them, and will share future reports of chinook PSM.  There’s a good chance that we’ll see PSM in coho later in the fall.


September 6, 2020.  The LIABILITY WAIVER is POSTED HERE, and you can link to a form to acknowledge that you have read it, understand it, and accept it (all required for participation) HERE.

September 5, 2020

  • Thank you to all of you who were able to make today’s zoom meeting!  Please feel to let me know if you have questions.
  • If you have signed up but were unable to attend – Welcome!   
  • If you have not signed up to be a North Tribs Salmon Watcher don’t worry –  it’s never too late!  You can see some background on what we’re up to and instructions for signing up here

We held our first ZOOM meeting September 5, 2020.  If you weren’t able to attend the meeting, or just want to review it, here are links to: