Lake Sammamish kokanee, King County, Washington
Kokanee salmon are native to the Lake Sammamish and Lake Washington watershed but now spawn in only a few streams that feed into Lake Sammamish. Unlike their larger relative the sockeye salmon, kokanee do not go out to the ocean but spend their entire lifecycle in fresh water. They migrate from streams as inch-long fry and spend three to four years in Lake Sammamish before returning to spawn in the late fall and early winter in their natal streams.
This kokanee population’s habitat once encompassed the lower Cedar River, smaller tributaries to Lake Washington and the Sammamish River, and the Lake Sammamish watershed, but today its range is only Lake Sammamish and primarily three of its tributary streams used for spawning.. This population once numbered in the tens of thousands of fish. Since 2007-2008 the number of returning spawners has dipped below 150 spawners four times. Causes of this decline are currently understood to include altered stormwater flows, past hatchery practices, predation, fishing, passage barriers, and lake temperature and dissolved oxygen levels.
The Lake Sammamish Kokanee Work Group (KWG) is driving the collaborative effort to recover these little red fish. Watershed residents, local jurisdictions, agencies, and NGOs formed the KWG in 2007 to identify the causes of kokanee decline and then develop and implement actions to address them.
Lake Sammamish Kokanee Recovery Strategic Timeline (361 KB Acrobat pdf)
Lake Sammamish Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership
Extensive effort to support conservation of fish and wildlife in the Sammamish Basin, and contribute to the quality of life for current residents and future generations.
Pictures, drawings and descriptions to help identify landlocked sockeye salmon or kokanee.
Photos of kokanee in tributary creeks of Lake Sammamish in King County, Washington.
Watch videos of spawning, rearing and reintroduction of kokanee in Lake Sammamish tributaries since 2007.
- Spring 2015 Video: 6th Annual Lake Sammamish kokanee fry release New!
Classes from Pine Lake Middle School and Blackwell Elementary in Sammamish and from Campbell Hill Elementary from Renton helped release kokanee salmon fry into Laughing Jacobs Creek. King County Executive Dow Constantine and a student leader from Pine Lake Middle School speak in this video.
- Kokanee Cam
Underwater video of kokanee returning to a stream in the Sammamish Watershed.
- Blueprint for the Restoration and Enhancement of Lake Sammamish Kokanee Tributaries
Restoration actions that build on the latest science and current efforts to move the Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon population closer to recovery.
- Design guidance for Zaccuse Creek projects
Culvert replacement and possible upstream realignment and re-grading
Kokanee conservation presentations
Briefing materials presented to regional partners interesting in Lake Sammamish kokanee science, status and conservation efforts.
News and announcements
Mar. 10, 2017
External article, Issaquah Reporter
Planned kokanee documentary to tell the story of the little red fish in Lake Sammamish
Jan. 16, 2017
External article, The Issaquah Press
Where are the kokanee?
Dec. 1, 2016
External article, Bothell Reporter
Searching for the little red fish in local streams
July 25, 2016
External article, KCTS9/ earthFIX
An Urban Refuge Where Humans And Wildlife Coexist
Kokanee Quest: get outside
Geocaching around Lake Sammamish
Apr. 28, 2016
External article, Issaquah Reporter
Students pour ‘little red fish’ into Issaquah Creek during annual Kokanee Release
Apr. 22, 2016
External report, East of Seattle News
VIDEO: Kokanee release on Issaquah Creek
Jan. 8, 2016
External article, Issaquah-Sammamish Reporter
Kokanee return: Third highest spawning run in the last two decades