A New Season begins – The 2013 Maloney Creek Salmon Run

Report for October 14, 2013

Today Maloney Creek is at a moderate flow level. There are a few salmon in it but the main spawning activity has not yet begun. We have seen the creek ecology change through its spring and summer seasons, until now the main Coho spawning season is upon us again. In the spring there were lots of fish fry around the root wads planted for habitat improvement.  Obviously these root wads are doing their job well. (It will be interesting to see what the return is from this generation two or three years from now.) Later in the season, just as last season, the creek dried up and flow ceased between Thelma Street and the confluence with the South Branch of the Skykomish River.  Here is a photo of the dry creek bed under the Railroad overpass just upstream of the confluence with the Skykomish River take September 10 :

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Here is a photo of the sediment deposition zone taken on September 24, 2013.

However, our summer dry spell ended earlier this year than last, and there was never exceptional risk to the fry that were gathering at the creek terminus waiting for the rains to carry them on their downstream journey.  We had rainstorms in September that produced a flow through the sediment deposition zone:

Here is a photo of high water at former terminus of Maloney Creek taken September 29, 2013:

High water at former terminus of Maloney Creek

Since the creek rose and was able to rejoin the Skykomish River in September the fry were completely flushed out, and no fry are to be seen in Maloney Creek today.

Then, some adult salmon began entering.  These were Pink Salmon. Here is a photo of a couple during the high water. (The Pink Salmon are hard to see; sorry about that.).

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I saw only a half dozen or so Pink Salmon in September.

[The main event for the Pink Salmon was in the Skykomish River proper, where we witnessed a major Pink Salmon return this year.  This spawning went on ceaselessly for at least three weeks right under the bridge in the Town of Skykomish.]

I visited the Creek on Saturday Oct 12, 2013.  The creek has dropped again since the September rain storms, and is dropping still.  It has dropped to a level too low for much salmon spawning activity.  However, there were still several Pink salmon in the creek. They did not appear to be actively spawning. I spooked one male Pink Salmon that was right next to the bank as I walked along the creek just below Thelma Street.  He darted upstream a short ways, then proceeded to slowly swim on.  The water was so shallow I was able to watch his every movement and follow him as he swam upstream among the rocks and leaves, around a root wad, around a bend to the right, and then another to the left, and then one to the right again.  All total he traveled about 200 yards in the 15 minutes while I watched.  He finally paused when he encountered two other Pink Salmon, one male and one female. These two were not actively spawning, but were associating with each other.  The male I had followed ceased his upstream journey at this point.  He appeared to have found his people, so I left him there. I also saw two Coho Salmon under the Old Cascade Highway Bridge.  They were holding in very shallow water and were not in prime condition.  They may already have spawned.  Maloney Creek is dropping right now and the main Coho Run has not yet arrived, at least in the creek.  Coho have been seen in the South Branch of the Skykomish River so we only have to wait for those torrential rains to raise the creek level for our brother salmon.  Last year the Coho made their main entry at the end of October after a heavy downpour.  The two Coho I saw were probably the vanguard.  There is no rain in the forecast for the next 5 days so there is not much chance of any spawning activity in the Maloney Creek for at least a week.

Stay Tuned.

If you visit the Creek let us know what you see.

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13 Responses to A New Season begins – The 2013 Maloney Creek Salmon Run

  1. Federco says:

    We have a twenty plus population of spawning salmon under the deck and through out the water flowing through our wet, wet, back yard. And the resident beaver has been very active falling trees and maintaining at least two dams.

  2. Keith Peter says:

    Dropped by the Maloney pond location to check out the salmon situation. Saw 7 salmon from the top of the spillway down to where the trail ends. A few of the salmon looked to be past spawning stage looking pretty rough. Couple of the Coho were in decent shape and good size. I drove down to where the bridge crosses and took a peek. Didn’t see any but this stretch is a popular location for them to hang out at. The states theory of the salmon spawning in the main stream where the creek spillway used to dump in instead of in the spillway is debatable. The removal of this source was a mistake in my opinion. But the BNSF and WDFW think otherwise.

    • JoAnne Menard says:

      Hi Keith, My computer dropped my comments to you, so I’m trying again, and hope it won’t be a duplication.
      Thanks for checking out the coho in Maloney. Your observations are always informative. I saw salmon from the bridge last Wed-Friday, but then Sat-Monday I didn’t see any. Where do they go? I also didn’t see any at end of Thelma on Monday, when I had seen about a dozen there last week.
      When you talk about Maloney Pond, do you mean what the restoration folks now call the “wetlands”? Karen and Federico live on the upper “wetlands” and can look out their window and see salmon spawning.
      We’ll all keep looking. I’m planning to go this weekend up to the Quiet River Bridge on the upper Foss to see if the salmon are there. They usually are at this time. Coho or maybe Chinook. They are big. .

  3. Arie says:

    I am Ariel, from Skykomish high school. My science class and I studied a little bit about the salmon, and I am going out this weekend to see them.

    • JoAnne Menard says:

      Hi Ariel,
      Did you get out to look for salmon this weekend? Did you see any?
      It was fun coming to your science class. You all are way cool having your own IPads.
      JoAnne

  4. JoAnne Menard says:

    The Coho are coming! After the heavy rains for a couple days, Bob and I went down today to Maloney Creek at end of Thelma Street. There was so much water flow that without our boots, we couldn’t get across the water in the NDZ (Natural Deposition Zone channel which was constructed during the MC restoration to handle water overflow). So we can”t check for salmon in MC @ end of Thelma until water recedes a bit.
    Later today we checked at Old Cascade Bridge, and in spite of high water, there they were! The coho are coming. We saw three large salmon – each at least 3 ft. long. There were probably more, but we couldn’t see clearly because of the swirling, deep water. We’ll look again tomorrow when the water recedes a bit. Come and take a look yourselves.

  5. JoAnne Menard says:

    Madelle, do you think maybe the fish you saw mid-September/early October in Maloney Creek might have been Humpies? That’s what was running at that time, although we usually don’t look for them in Maloney Creek. There were so many Humpies this Fall, I guess they could have been everywhere. The coho come later.
    Maybe we’ll be able to tell, if Rich is able to post your photo.
    Also, Keith Peter said he saw “jack salmon” about that same time. Maybe he’ll comment more about that.
    j

    • JoAnne Menard says:

      In recent weeks, Bob and I have been watching Maloney Creek for coho. We haven’t seen any yet. It’s been dry all October and the water levels are low.
      However, last Friday,November 1, because extensive rain was predicted, we decided to measure water levels at the MC output into the South Fork Sky and also at the Old Cascade bridge. We thought it might allow an interesting comparison between low water levels with no coho and increasingly high water levels due to rain that perhaps would bring the arrival of salmon in Maloney Creek.
      We found the low water measures were 4″ depth at the OCBridge and 7″ depth at the South Fork outlet. And no coho.
      Now that the rain has started, we plan to measure again, and also keep watching for the salmon. We hope that other folks will be out watching for them also and record their observations on this blog.

    • Madelle Quiring says:

      JoAnne, as I say, I don’t know my fish. I need photos of the possibilities. Is a humpie a salmon? I also have never explored identifying all the kinds of salmon. I wrote a poem once naming them, though. Here it is. This one has been published:

      When you have gone

      wild salmon
      from the streams that feed
      into the Sound of all the lost wild voices
      echoing on charged air, riding in the thunder
      of colliding storm clouds, rocking the cultivated
      hearts of my people, tamed now
      and shelter-raised to fear the wild…Oh,

      Chinook, Pink, Sockeye, Coho, Chums
      of many childhoods. My mind’s eye moves south
      to the fighting steelhead, wild rainbow,
      speckled brown, Dolly Varden trout
      my father caught in California streams
      well over a half a century ago, and

      those catfish that lay in his creel all day
      gasping, not dying, some kind of
      missing link, that he poured into
      the sink when he got home and we
      watched them swim again until he
      gave the mercy stroke and we ate
      them breaded for supper.

      The soft hatchery trout he caught
      later on in stocked streams
      never fought so well,
      never held the same thrill
      never tasted free.

    • Madelle Quiring says:

      Okay, I’ve done some (belated) salmon research and looked at photos of all the kinds. The closest I’ve come, JoAnne, is pinks, which are also called humpies because they do have a hump on their back at spawning time. Rich says he saw pinks, the time was right for pinks so those I saw in Maloney Creek on October 3rd were likely pinks/humpies.

    • B ob Boggs says:

      Wednesday, November 13 approx. 3 pm. Observed a lone coho in the main channel under rock near the junction of the NDZ and main channel.
      Sunday, November 17 approx. 3:30 pm. Flow depths taken: (1) main channel at confluence with South Fork Skykomish River, 20 inches; (2) main channel at Old Cascade Bridge,11 inches. Observed again a lone coho in the main channel under a rock near the junction of the MC and NDZ. Located a dead coho on sand bar about 35 feet from junction of MC and NDZ. Coho was headless – 21 inches long.

  6. Madelle Quiring says:

    In about mid-September many folks saw fish milling near and under the bridge into town over the South Fork of the Skykomish River—waiting for enough rain to fill the creeks. We got 7.4 inches of rain during the last three days of September. Out walking in sunshine on October 3rd, I saw a few salmon in Maloney Creek by the bridge across West Cascade. There were also as many as a dozen in the creek near the Post Office. These fish were black with some white and I don’t know my fish. Were they steelhead or salmon? They were barely distinguishable from the water. They seemed only about a foot long. Here is a picture:

    (Photo to come)

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