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