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About the Hatchery

 

The ESSC Coho Hatchery at Eagle Creek

The hatchery came to life about 1990 as a joint project  of the Seattle Poggie Club and Washington Trollers Assn.  to reintroduce salmon into Eagle Creek.  The creek outlet was blocked by a county dike and beaver dams.  The groups constructed a single rearing pond on the Creek supplied by two incubators which could accept around 135K eggs.  This site,  about 3 miles east of Monroe, WA,  offered year-round spring water and was close to the Skykomish River.  After rearing only  2 batches of eggs, the hatchery was reconstructed at the current location, about ¼ mile upstream, where it is also more protected from vandalism.  This site had two incubators and started with a small, above ground pool, plumbed to the incubators and received constant fresh water.   Work was completed about 1992 and a second, larger pond was added around  1994-1995, improving the holding capacity for fish.

In the early years, between 100K and 136K eggs were incubated annually.  Those fish were outplanted as fed fry to streams designated by the WDFW and several thousand were put into Eagle Creek.   Since 2000 the hatchery has received about 60K-65K eyed eggs, which were incubated and held for 14-16 months.  This cycle continued  for 17 consecutive years, with members from Trout Unlimited, Sky Valley Chapter taking the lead in daily feeding  and maintenance about 1998, when the Troller’s Association withdrew.  Poggie Club and Trout Unlimited members came together for fin clipping and larger projects.    The winter storm of December, 2006 damaged the intake to the ponds and the hatchery was taken out of production for over  2 years.  In mid-2009, ownership of the hatchery operation transferred to the Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club in an agreement with the landowners to repair the damaged intakes and restore the hatchery to coho production.

Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club members working with Trout Unlimited members, rebuilt  the hatchery, improving the intakes,  and a new batch of eggs was introduced the winter of 2009-2010.  Another extreme weather event occurred in December,  2010, causing damage to the intakes and forced early release of this crop of fin-clipped fish into the creek and to the Skykomish River. That damage was repaired in time to accept a new crop of eggs in February, 2011 and those eggs are now incubating.

In the earlier years, the fish were released to 3 local tributaries when they reached  450/pound up to 100/pound.  About 60K were planted into Wagley Creek, near Sultan and Startup, and some 5K were given out to local public school projects.  Since 2000, the 60K eggs received have not been outplanted as fry, but were released at high water in the host creek.  All raised fish were marked/fin clipped to identify them as hatchery-raised.  Other creeks also received plants and some local net pens also received stock from the hatchery.

In the late 90’s, 25K to 30K fish were released in two of the streams with Eagle Creek getting the balance.   40K to 50K were raised until they reached 250-300 per pound (3-4 inches length), when they were transferred to the larger pond.

The annual cycle was that eggs were received in late December to mid-Januray and the fish were held until smolts were released the following April/May at about 16 months old.

Outline of Operating Calendar for Hatchery

  • January-February     Obtain Coho eggs, placed in incubators and assure water flow over incubators and into ponds.
  • Mid March                  As eggs hatch they are transferred to the small holding tank.
  • Daily Feeding as necessary. An onsite or daily presence is required during this period to feed and to check water flow.  Without water flow the fish can suffocate within half a day. This happened once in past years.
  • August-Sept.               Fin Clipping of all smolts, possible transfer to large holding pond.
  • April Year +1             Smolts are captured and harvested for release in the river, or allowed to migrate down the creek.
  • They are held for 14-16 months from the time the eggs are received.


References:

  • Gary Bee, Monroe, WA.  Owner Northshore Appraisal.   Former President, Trout Unlimited, Sky Valley Chapter.
  • Richard Kikuchi, Everett, WA.  Retired Boeing Co.  Former President, Seattle Poggie Club.  Secretary, Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club.
  • Geoff LeBon, Seattle, WA.  Chemist, NOAA-F.   Former President, Washington Troller’s Association.
  • Paul Wells, Sammamish, WA.  Boeing Co.  Former President, Seattle Poggie Club.

Last Updated on Monday, 19 January 2015 11:33

 
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