What You Will See at the Hatchery
Although the hatchery is open year-round, Autumn is the most active time of year, when adult chinook and coho salmon return to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. Chinook are the first to return, with the first salmon usually showing up in late August and the bulk of the return arriving by mid-September through mid-October. Coho generally arrive […]
Around mid-April, yearling coho are released into Issaquah Creek. Juvenile chinook, which hatched in December and January, are released into the creek around late May or early June. Both species are released as “smolts,” which means they are preparing to migrate from fresh water to salt water. The hatchery staff also transports 2-year-old rainbow trout to […]
During this season, juvenile coho from the prior Fall’s spawn continue to be fed. These fish will be released next Spring. This is a good time to visit the hatchery’s native plant garden and wetland. In the Summer, the hatchery usually keeps the 2-year old rainbow trout on display in the glassed-in adult holding pond, […]
The salmon eggs begin to hatch in December, although the exact date depends on the water temperature. Hatchery staff and volunteers spend the days keeping the trays clean and picking out dead eggs. This all happens “behind the scenes” in the incubation room, although usually a sampling of eggs are on display in the aquarium room, […]
With the continuing need for social distancing due to the risks imposed by the COVID-19 virus, the hatchery grounds are currently closed to the public. Regrettably, FISH does not know when regular visiting hours will resume — but we encourage you to learn about the hatchery and explore opportunities for online education here and on our Online Education pages.
Visitors can learn a wealth of information about the salmon life cycle and watershed stewardship with a host of interactive displays at the hatchery. Below is a sampling of the displays you will see at the hatchery:
The fiber-optics map lights the route salmon take when they leave Issaquah Creek as smolts and when they return as adults. It traces the salmon’s path through Issaquah Creek, Lake Sammamish, the Sammamish River, Lake Washington, Lake Union, the Lake Washington Ship Canal, Puget Sound, the Straight of Juan de Fuca and the Pacific Ocean. […]
The hatchery’s native plant garden shows visitors how they can use native plants to grow “salmon-friendly gardens.” Native plants offer a host of benefits; since they require minimal irrigation, fertilizers and pesticides, they can save money, preserve habitat, reduce runoff and keep harmful chemicals out of the watershed.
Gilda and Finley, the hatchery’s two coho salmon statues, are arguably Issaquah’s most famous couple. These 8-feet bronze sculptures were created by artist Tom Jay. The salmon’s size is based on fossils of salmon from the Ice Age. Some 5-6 million years ago, such “saber-tooth salmon” existed, measuring up to 10-feet long and weighing up […]
The hatchery’s solar panel shows how people can harness the sun’s power. The project is a 1.1 kilowatt solar-electric system and while it is too small to provide the main source of power for the hatchery’s normal electrical needs, the system is grid-tied, so its electricity is part of the overall energy mix used by […]
The glassed-in ladder and holding ponds let visitors get nose-to-nose with adult salmon that have returned to spawn. Visitors can watch brightly colored chinook, coho, sockeye and other Issaquah Creek species jump from one level to the next in the ladder. They can also see the salmon in detail in the holding pond, which is […]
The onsite wetland absorbs water that is redirected from the pollution abatement ponds nearby, filtering out any residual sediment and further reducing pollutants that might enter Issaquah Creek. The goal of the wetland is to enhance water quality as well as to provide an educational exhibit demonstrating the value and function of wetlands. The wetland […]
The “Can You Beat the Odds” exhibit shows the tough odds salmon face from the moment they hatch to when they return to their home streams to spawn. Visitors can spin wheels and activate other mechanisms to see if they survive the gauntlet of predators and hazards that salmon face every day of their lives. […]
This exhibit is representative of a typical Northwest stream, much like Issaquah Creek. Visitors can view depictions of underwater life for salmon and vegetation and animals that occupy the salmon’s world. At all times of the year you can see developing salmon. From late September through March Chinook salmon can be observed as they develop […]
“Everything Given to Salmon is Returned” exhibit explains in dynamic fashion how every stage of the salmon’s life cycle is entwined with the ecosystem. It also teaches how the public can help maintain a healthy riparian zone (stream bank), which is so important for salmon survival and watershed fitness. This exhibit was installed in 2004 and […]