Salmon Return

Adult male (top) and female Chum salmon; Oct 26, 2015
Adult male (top) and female Chum salmon. Photo taken on the Carkeek Park Beach at the mouth of Piper’s Creek on October 26, 2015.

Returning Salmon Spawners

Adult Chum salmon begin returning each year to Pipers Creek at the end of October to the beginning of November after spending 3-5 years at sea in the Pacific Ocean. The first recorded sighting in 2015 was October 26.  The first recorded sighting in 2016 was October 27. Visit this website for a good overview of a  Timeline for Life Cycle, Growth, and Survival.

Spawning Survey & Count

CWCAP conducts a Salmon Spawning Survey every year with a Scientific Collection Permit (SCP) from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. The primary objective is to determine the relative spawning success of salmonids in Pipers Creek and its largest tributary, Venema Creek. Spawning success over time is one measure of the health of the salmon run.

Male Chum salmon making it’s way up Venema Creek approximately 100 feet down stream from the Imprint Pond where it was released 3-5 years earlier; photo Matthew Kuhar, November 12, 2016.

CWCAP volunteers also rear, imprint, and release 70-100,000 fish at the Imprint Pond every year. The surviving fish from this education, demonstration, and outreach program return each fall to spawn. We could not do it, of course, without the Suquamish Tribe’s Grovers Creek Salmon Hatchery who donate salmon eggs and fry to our salmon projects. For more detailed information related to this survey, contact

  • Storm water flow rate: it is known that extreme energy and water volume associated with storm water moves dead adult salmon and recently nested eggs from the system to Puget Sound. Fish flushed from the system cannot be estimated and are not represented in this data.
  • Predators/Scavengers: nearly 20 salmon carcasses have been located in the brush and wooded areas near the creek this season.  Without a comprehensive search, it is likely that the survey team has missed numerous carcasses during surveys due to predators and/or scavengers that have drug salmon from the near-creek vicinity and are therefore not represented in the data.
  • This data represents all fish encountered and processed that have already died after entering Piper’s Creek and Venema Creek. Each Chum salmon dies in more or less 10 days after entering Pipers Creek’s freshwater, whether spawned or not. Since this survey opens each dead fish by incision along the belly to examine its relative spawning success, we can be certain that fish haven’t been double-counted from one week to another.
  • * Resident and sea-run cutthroat trout are not part of the current survey design. The methods used in this survey do not accurately sample for the presence of resident cutthroat trout, but are listed here as incidental information only.
  • Fish are sampled from dead carcasses taken from Pipers Creek and Venema Creek and returned to sample location.

CWCAP is a very local group of volunteers that also accomplishes the rearing, imprinting and release of  70-90,000 fish at the Imprint Pond every year (numbers vary) – some of which we are lucky enough to be able to tell park visitors about each fall. We could not do it, of course, without the Suquamish Tribe’s Grovers Creek Salmon Hatchery, SPU, Parks, Fish & Wildlife, the indomitable Carkeek Park Advisory Council (CPAC) and all the volunteers that help this park along to being the special place that it is.

Salmon Stewards

Salmon Stewards, a cooperation of Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), Seattle Parks & Recreation, and a community of local volunteers are trained to welcome, engage, educate, and inspire park visitors drawn by the annual Piper’s Creek salmon run. Volunteers are trained to help park visitors during the annual salmon return (also know as salmon run) by answering questions about the salmon life cycle, watershed improvement, and community stewardship.  Salmon Stewards are available every Saturday and Sunday, 11:00AM – 2:00PM from the 1st week in November to the 1st week in December during the salmon run.

Release and Return Numbers

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