The Salmon are near!

Report for October 21, 2012 by Rich Yarges

I checked out Maloney Creek today for signs of our returning salmon. At the bridge under the old cascade hwy there was a good flow. JoAnne said she measured 4 inches under the bridge last week. The water is clear, shallow and running fast. I took a picture.

 

 It wasn’t raining today, but it has been for the last week or so, and sometimes hard. You can see signs of the higher water. All the leaves have been swept out of the main channel and a half foot up the bank as well. The water is so clear and shallow; if there were adult salmon in the creek here you would see them. I didn’t see any.
I entered the creek again at Thelma Street and walked downstream a few hundred yards. The flow looked good, but I saw no fish; neither fingerlings nor adults. I took a picture at the former end of the Creek.  

 

It sure looks different now.

Then, as I was walking back upstream, I noticed a few salmon eggs lying among the stones on the the bank near the water. There were 15 or 20 that I could see. Here are some pictures.

How did they get there? I can think of several possibilities, but the most likely one is that there were already salmon spawning up here when the water was higher. Look as I might, however, I could not see any salmon at all in the creek. The plot thickens. I will keep looking.
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AT LAST THE RAINS ARRIVE

Report for October 14, 2012 by Rich Yarges

At last the rains arrive:

I visited Maloney Creek on Sunday. What a difference a week makes. Our warm sunny days and impending drought are history. It has been raining for several days now and the creek has grown from a mere trickle to a real stream. It goes all the way to the Skykomish River now. The staircase falls are flowing full again. I took a picture of them:

Maloney Creek Oct 14, 2012

 The flow is slightly discolored from the runoff and I couldn’t see any fish, but I am sure that the fingerlings I saw last week have begun their journey to the sea. I saw no signs of adult salmon in the creek. Perhaps they will show themselves by next weekend  if the rain continues.

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Still waiting for the rains

Report for October 7, 2012 by Rich Yarges

Still waiting for rain:

I visited Maloney again on Sunday.  The creek itself looked much the same as last week, but now there were more maple leaves in the water.   It appears that there are many more fingerlings in the lower section of the creek, just before it runs dry.  They are in water less than six inches deep.  As I walked upstream the flow improves, but I could see no signs of fish.  Looks like all the fingerlings are packed up in the lower end waiting for the rain to wash them out.

I also walked to the outlet of the creek.  The outlet looked the same, but I did not see the pair of salmon I saw in the Skykomish River last week.  Perhaps they have moved on or an eagle has made a meal of them.

Rain is in the forecast for Friday.  We really need it now.

 

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Waiting for the Rain

Report for September 30, 2012 by Rich Yarges

Waiting for the rain:

I walked along Maloney Creek from Thelma Street upstream to the end of the trail.  I saw that the creek ends just downstream of Thelma.  It just runs into the ground.  The underground stream no doubt enters the Skykomish River near  the ”normal” confluence point.  I took a picture of the “end” of Maloney Creek.

End of MaloneyAs you walk upstream from the “end” of the creek the flow improves, and by the time you reach the end of the accessible area there is a substantial flow.  The Staircase falls looked absolutely beautiful even with the low flow; I took a picture.

Step Pools

 

All along the way upstream I could see that the stream is full of little fingerlings (salmon, trout, or steelhead).  These little ones will be washed downstream once the rains come, if the rains come in time. Right now the fingerlings appear to be content fattening themselves up for the trip.  I took this picture.  You can see several fingerlings if you look closely.

It looks like the flow will hold out for a few more weeks without rain.  After that though, who knows.  Perhaps the creek will completely dry up and a large part of a generation of salmon will be wiped out.  We shall see.

I didn’t walk the dried out section of the creek, downstream of Thelma, but I went to the outlet on the Skykomish River.  Of course it is completely dried up now, although you can see some water seeping out of the ground near the banks of the Skykomish.  And lo and behold what should I see there, but a pair of salmon (Chinook, I believe), just hanging in the shallow water right at the outlet.  I could have poked them with a stick if I had wanted to; they were that close to shore.  No doubt they would be headed up the creek if it was running all the way to the river.  I wonder how long these fish can hold out?  One already shows signs of fungus.  Also, in the shallow water where they were holding they are easy targets for an eagle.  I saw an eagle just the other day flying down the river; my first sighting for this fall. They too have begun to arrive in our community.   I fear this late arrival of the rain could take a toll on our salmon.

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