News

Salmon surging back to Silverdale

The iconic symbol of the Northwest, the spawning chum salmon, are making their presence known on the creeks and swollen tributaries of Central Kitsap.  This indefatigable chum leapt out of the furious churning waters of Chico Creek on Wednesday as it fought its way upstream from Dyes Inlet. - Photo by Jesse Beals
The iconic symbol of the Northwest, the spawning chum salmon, are making their presence known on the creeks and swollen tributaries of Central Kitsap. This indefatigable chum leapt out of the furious churning waters of Chico Creek on Wednesday as it fought its way upstream from Dyes Inlet.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

he number of salmon returning to spawn this year is staggering.

“The run is quite a bit above normal,” said Gary Ives, manager of the Suquamish Tribe’s Grover’s Creek Hatchery, the largest hatchery in the region.

He admitted his first statement was an understatement.

“We usually get 5,000 to 7,000 back per year,” he said. “But this year, we’ve already counted 8,500 back — and the spawning season is only half over.”

With the heavy rains, the fish are probably running up the major streams now, he said. Mostly chum, a few coho salmon. “We’ve counted anywhere from 700 to 1,200 coho (returning) at Grover’s Creek.” The fish hatchery is near Indianola. Ives said the hatchery releases 500,000 chinook or king salmon fry per year.

The tribe releases two million fry a year at Gorst Creek. They release hatchlings annually at Gorst, Clear, and Dogfish creeks. Dogfish is in Poulsbo.

Chinook return the second week of September. Coho start back mid October, and chums return late October/early December.

More chums are planted at Dogfish, Clear, Barker and Steel creeks. Coho are released locally, while the state releases them nearly everywhere else, he said.

The best fish for eating are not the battered returnees, but salmon that are still out to sea or just beginning to return around Point No Point in North Kitsap, he said. This is in July and August.

Salmon in general are “bigger than normal this year,” he added. “Must be a good food chain (at sea) this year.”

Over the past weeks, human adults and children could be seen peering over bridge railings at many creeks, watching the big fish — some two-foot or more in length — struggle upstream. Fishers are also out in numbers — mainly to catch-and-release in delta areas. The salmon are not as flavorful this time of year.

Some fishers keep them, however, as the fish are good smoked, said fisherman Alex Szabo of Silverdale.

“I keep ’em, smoke ’em, and send them to relatives for Christmas,” he said.

Szabo was one of a handful of Navy enlisted from the USS Michigan, standing in waders, out on a spit of land extending into Chico Bay — the mouth of Chico Creek. There were nearly two dozen fishermen out on Wednesday, either on the spit or in waders in the water. A few small boats could be seen farther out.

“I fish all year,” said Szabo, who had already caught quite a few salmon. “If it’s not salmon, it’s steelhead. If it’s not steelhead, it’s trout ... .”

Chad Cundiff had been out an hour-and-a-half when he slipped into the water.

“I fell completely in,” he added. His waders were full of water, and he was cold and anxious to get home. Although not raining Wednesday, temperatures were in the 40s.

“I just catch and release,” he said. “They taste pretty nasty this time of season.” He’d caught and released five.

Eric Gjerstad of Port Orchard was also catching and releasing.

“I’ve always been big on bass,” he said. He was just out for sport Wednesday. He said there were so many salmon, catching them was almost too easy.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Dec 19
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates