During the fall, visitors will view adult salmon spawning in Issaquah Creek, the fish ladder and hatchery holding ponds. There are also exhibits, a native plant garden and wetland for visitors to enjoy. Each visit to the hatchery provides new and fascinating experiences. FISH encourages patrons to visit several times a year to view the various stages of the salmon life cycle.
Yes, FISH is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and relies on donations, field trips, and grants to keep the salmon coming home! FISH staff members and volunteers lead educational tours of the hatchery as a service to the community. A contribution of $5 per person is appreciated and supports FISH’s educational mission. Children enjoy placing coins in the slot under the fin of the salmon statue in front of the hatchery. (By the way, his name is Finley and his mate is Gilda).
The best time to view adult salmon at the hatchery is between mid-September and mid-November. Typically, the first chinook arrive in early September; the first coho return in early October. In early October you are likely to see three species of salmon: Chinook (king) and Coho (silver). In recent years we’ve also seen sockeye, pink and kokanee in Issaquah Creek.
Starting the last Tuesday in September, hatchery personnel retrieve ripe eggs from the females (hens) and fertilize them with milt from the males (bucks). Spawning usually occurs each Tuesday morning (usually 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.) through the end of November, although there may be a break between chinook and coho spawning. Prior to egg and milt removal, the salmon are removed from the water, hit over the head to knock them out, then the females bellies are slit open to remove the eggs. This is a bloody process and is not meant for young children or the queasy. Spawning dates and times are subject to change without notice.
Tours are offered at 10AM, 11AM, and noon on weekdays. Drop-in tours are available on Saturday and Sunday during the fall salmon run (September through mid-November) and occur at 11AM and 1PM. Reservations for groups of 10 or more can be made by completing the tour reservation form.
FISH will try to accommodate requests for group tours on Saturdays and Sundays, but it is not guaranteed. Contact FISH in advance to check availability of guides. Sometimes our volunteers will place a sign out front listing a time that day that a tour will be given.
Absolutely! You are welcome to visit anytime, however, we cannot provide guided tours for groups that are not scheduled. The hatchery is open from dawn to dusk, although some exhibits are only open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Self-guided tour QR codes can be scanned with a smartphone and are located at over a dozen locations around the hatchery. Thanks to the hard work of volunteers, the audio tour has been translated into several languages to accommodate the visitors from 40+ countries we receive every tear!
FISH requests that at least one adult accompany every ten children. Younger children may need additional supervision. Please ask the adults on your tour to read our Safety at the Hatchery page to understand how best to care for your children and our salmon.
There is minimal parking available at the hatchery. Carpooling is highly recommended. There are eight (8) stalls in the lot off Sunset Way near the shop. Another parking lot is located along a fence behind the fish ponds (also off Sunset Way). To access this driveway, turn in near the large black mailbox off Sunset Way (between fish ponds) Additional parking is located along Front Street and Newport Way and at the large parking garage facility next to the Issaquah Library. Buses are welcome to pull into the parking lots to let students off, then find parking on the street. PLEASE DO NOT DRIVE ACROSS THE FOOT BRIDGE AT THE HATCHERY!
Absolutely! During the fall when we have so many visitors, we ask that students eat at Gibson Park, which is located across the street from the hatchery on Newport Way. There is a lovely covered eating area with picnic tables. Please be sure to bring your own garbage bags. Please use our dumpster located in front of the shop, not the trash cans located around the hatchery.
If you are going to be late, please call FISH at 425-392-8025. Due to a very busy tour schedule, groups arriving 15 or more minutes late will lose their tour reservation. If you arrive too late for a guided tour, you may use a self-guided tour brochure while visiting the hatchery. Please be on time. Our volunteer docents take time off from work to lead these tours and we expect communication if you are going to no-show, so we can allow others to experience the miracle of the salmon!
Even if you arrive early, we cannot start your tour until your scheduled tour time. You are welcome to walk around the facility, but please be respectful of other groups receiving tours. For instance, if your entire class is waiting near the viewing windows and a tour group comes over, please have your students quietly move aside so the tour group can get a look, too, so they don’t miss the opportunity to see the fish. It’s one of the highlights!
If you need to cancel a reservation, this must be done at least three (3) days prior to your scheduled tour so we have time to alert our volunteers. Please email or call 425-392-8025. No-shows prevent others from receiving tours, and greatly disappoint the docents volunteering their time to give you an unforgettable field trip!