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Kokanee Salmon at Issaquah Salmon Hatchery

Salmon Hatchery

The hatchery is open to visitors year-round, every day from dawn until dusk, and features 37 educational exhibits and interactive displays, an aquarium room that shows the salmon life cycle from egg to smolt, a native plant garden, a rain garden, fish rearing ponds, fish ladder with underwater windows, and viewing decks and a bridge over Issaquah Creek.

Accessible. The hatchery grounds are flat and mostly paved. Wheelchairs and strollers will have no issues moving about the grounds. There are plenty of seating areas in both sun and shade to rest or stay dry, and take in the miracle of the salmon.

Adult salmon arrive at the hatchery in late August for the fall spawning season. Chinook arrive first and spawn through mid-October. Coho arrive late Sept-through Nov. Visitors can view natural salmon spawning in Issaquah Creek from the bridge and decks and salmon jumping up the steps of the fish ladder. FISH volunteers join Department of Fish and Wildlife staff to help harvest eggs on Tuesdays beginning in late September.

During the winter, staff and FISH volunteers care for millions of salmon eggs, sorting out infertile eggs from the incubation trays in the hatchery building. After hatching, the salmon fry are transferred outside to the rearing ponds (raceways), with chinook occupying the ponds in front of the building, and coho placed in ponds across the creek.

In the spring, about half a million yearling coho and 3 million juvenile chinook are released into Issaquah Creek. Both are released when they are transitioning from the fry to the “smolt” stage, which means they are ready to migrate from fresh water to salt water. They will make their way through lakes and rivers, following the current, out to Puget Sound at the Ballard Locks.

Summer is a good time to visit the hatchery’s native plant garden as well as the wetland. Rearing ponds house juvenile coho, who spend a whole year at the hatchery before they are ready to migrate. These fish will be released the following spring when they reach the smolt stage. Now-empty chinook ponds host rainbow trout, and trout food is available in the FISHop gift shop on weekends.

125 W Sunset Way
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