Kids Release Coho Into Lake Washington Trib

If it’s spring, it’s planting season.

Time to plant coho salmon, that is.

For the third May in a row, my sons and their friends from up the street turned out the fingerlings they’ve been raising at their elementary school from eggs donated by the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.

Once again I was there to document the morning at Grace Cole Nature Park in Lake Forest Park, at the north end of Lake Washington, through pictures, but this time I had the late Bob Heirman on my mind. He passed away last weekend, after a long life full of fishing, conservation work and similar fish releases.

Around 30 volunteers, kids and their parents showed up to help release the fish at Grace Cole Park, a shady wooded alcove in Lake Forest Park on a tributary of McAleer Creek, at the north end of Lake Washington.

This year the kids at Ridgecrest Elementary were given 205 coho eggs to raise, down from last year’s 250. Some years they get as many as 300, according to organizers of the release.

Each kid ends up getting to release about a dozen coho each over several runs to the pond. They also get to name their fish, and this year Bob was popular. Here, Eliza releases Straw, Stick and Brick, although I’m not sure which one is the shy one not making an appearance.

My oldest, River, heads for the pond with a couple fish. It was a little bit tougher to get him to go to this year’s release but afterwards we had a good talk about the need for people to care about the fish as well.

Couldn’t help myself but to try and repeat a shot I took last year

This is the pond the coho are released into to rear. How many make it back as adults, probably very few if any. But it helps to connect the kids with the fish, and I think we can all appreciate that

The juniors release their silvers, although Kiran’s looks a little bit skeptical …

… but eventually decided to test the waters.

At a pond close by, mallards had a large brood, somewhere around eight ducklings. A lot of work has gone into making Grace Cole Park more natural, with large efforts to remove invasive ivy and other nonnative plants.

Salmon berries bloom and begin to ripen. Hopefully some of my sons’ coho similarly grow and ripen in return.

Job done till 2018. Thanks to the volunteers, the school district for their interest, and the state for providing the eggs.

Afterwards, Amy and I needed coffee, and while she ran into the Starbucks at Lake Forest Park Town Center, River, Kiran and I watched a stream roll past for awhile. It provided a moment of contemplation to talk to them about fish and what they need. A lot of work has gone into making this creek more natural, but so much more is needed around our region. I hope events like this and WDFW’s School Cooperative Program can continue to connect the kids with creeks and coho.

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