JANUARY 27, 1997
Jim Culpepper and Wayne Gibbs pluck dead coho salmon eggs from one of their incubators along North Creek to prevent spread of disease and fungus among the rest of their stock. Interested visitors were given earfuls of information.
Photo by Andrew Walgamott.
by Andrew Walgamott
Local anglers Wayne Gibbs and Jim Culpepper will soon be the proud fathers of 200,000 coho salmon fingerlings. As part of the Koll North Creek Project, they are raising salmon from eggs in an attempt to boost runs of Oncorhynchus kisutch in North Creek.
Right now, trays of berry-red coho eggs slumber in an incubator the two men have built alongside North Creek. As members of Puget Sound Anglers, Culpepper and Gibbs felt compelled to ensure strong fish runs for the future.
"We both like to fish and we've caught a lot," Culpepper boasts, then adds seriously, "We figure we owe them something."
The incubators, placed just above stream level, are rubberized plastic screens set in 30" deep fiberglass tubs. A series of pipes brings water from a water pump (installed by Koll) upstream through a pond and into the incubators, keeping the water clear, cold, and silt free. Bolted on top of the tubs are plywood sheets to protect the salmon from the elements, ducks, and other shore life. Sandbags and plywood provide a diversion from North Creek in case of flood.
McLendon Hardware, Watson Asphalt, and Home Depot contributed pipe, plywood, gravel, and brass valves for the project. Culpepper figures most of the eggs will hatch in the next six weeks. The fingerlings then will be kep in the tubs for two months.
"This is as close to wild fish as it gets," says volunteer John Yeaman, of the modified hatchery. "The fish will get their food from the creek," whereas at hatcheries, fry are fed fish meal, he said.
The fry will be released into North Creek and Lake Washington where they will spend a year before heading to the ocean. The salmon will be subject to intense predation throughout their lives.
"If we get 1 or 2% of the salmon back, it would be a neat thing for this stream," said Culpepper.
Culpepper has been involved in raising salmon for four years--three or them in the Koll Business Park along North Creek. He has incubators on three other local creeks.