Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail 2020

The Trail will operate a bit differently this year due to Covid 19. For the 2020 season, the Trail will be open Friday – Sunday starting November 6. The Trail will be closed for Thanksgiving and the final day will be Saturday, November 21. The gate will open at 10 am and close at 4 pm on those dates and will be locked Monday – Thursday. Docents will be on hand to answer questions, however, we will not be providing guided field trips. When visiting the Trail, please wear a mask, for your protection and the protection of our volunteers.

The Trail will be open the following dates:

  • November 6, 7 & 8
  • November 13, 14 & 15
  • November 20, 21 & 22
  • November 27 & 28
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Spawning Behavior

IMG_7823My very first day of work at SPSSEG was Docent training day out at Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail. Although I have worked in one way or another in the salmon recovery field on and off for the last three years, I was enraptured as Lance described spawning behavior, a critical facet of salmon biology that I had yet to learn much about. And suddenly as I walked the trail and watched the fish in the creeks, I was filled with stark clarity – now I was privy to a secret salmon language.

As I watched, every splash laden with new meaning, a goal developed quickly in the back of my mind. What if I could somehow capture these behaviors, and share them at docent training? What if I could share them with the WHOLE WORLD? Because there isn’t much I love more than sharing knowledge.

So I embarked wholeheartedly on the journey to capture salmon courtship.  I egged on combative gentlemen salmon and redd digging salmon ladies. And now, I have something magical to share.

First I made a little video of Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail’s 2014 season. We had 2,300 students and close to 3,000 weekend visitors, facilitated by that amazing group of volunteer Docents I met on my first day of work. Its an understatement to say that we could not run this program without them.

Then I began compiling a behavior video. But first, in case you don’t yet know, here’s a few tricks that will help you to…

Distinguish chum salmon males vs. a females:

Female (front) with dark lateral line; Male in back is larger, with big teeth and vertical stripes

Males are typically larger with a slight hump, vertical ‘tiger’ stripes, large hooked noses, and jaws filled with large teeth – from which the moniker dog salmon was derived.

Females are generally smaller and streamlined, with a dark horizontal ‘racing stripe’ down the lateral line.

Big ‘dog’ teeth on a deceased male, excellent weapons when fighting for a position of dominance

Without further ado…

The following is a work in progress, suggestions are welcome!

What does it all mean?

Male vs. Male: Males will fight to assert dominance, as in many other species. The dominant male will fend off others so he has the very best chance of fertilizing as many eggs as possible

Nosing, test digging: Females will essentially ‘smell’ for areas with upwelling water to place their redds, and test it out. Upwelling water ensures a flow of oxygenated water to the eggs and alevin in the redd.

Quivering: This behavior serves a sort of nudging along, encouraging the female to dig and ultimately release eggs. Quivering impacts the sensitive cells on the female’s lateral line, stimulating action from the female.

Crossover: Dominant males swim back and forth over a female’s back to watch for encroaching males

Digging: There are several forms of digging – the test dig, excavation dig, and digging to cover eggs.

The main thing I have learned thus far is that there is always more to learn!


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Become a Kennedy Creek Docent!

The Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail will open on Saturday, October 28 this year. Open through until December 3, the Trail offers an incredible learning experience for students and community members, bringing them face to face with wild Chum salmon.

If you are looking for a volunteer opportunity for the month of November, we will be training new and returning Docents on October 14, 2017.  To attend, please RSVP by October 7 to

Docent Training Flyer

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IMG_5737We are overwhelmed by the support shown on Saturday at our 3rd Annual Chum, Chowder, and Chocolate.  A record 500 people came to the Trail on a cold, sunny day to enjoy a cuppa Xinh’s famous chowder served up by Taylor Shellfish and some hot coco before heading down the Trail to watch the magical event that is chum spawning in Kennedy & Fiscus Creeks.  Visitors donated over $1,400 to the Trail; supporting 400 student visitors to the Trail.IMG_8045

 “The beauty of this Trail is that we have Fiscus Creek.  If viewing is difficult in Kennedy, it’s great in Fiscus” said Lance Winecka, Executive Director of South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group.

The outpouring of support for our volunteer Docent lead tours for scheduled school groups demonstrates the value of this program.  This year, 2999 school kids and 500 chaperons visited the Trail during the week.  The number would have been higher except the weather didn’t cooperate this year and 10 classes with 520 kids had to cancel their field trips.   IMG_6172

Kennedy Creek is a community supported resource.  The 2015 season was supported by donations from the Squaxin Island Tribe (2,500), Olympia Federal Savings ($1,000), Community for Interfaith Celebration ($250), South Sound Fly Fishers ($250) and community members like you.  The Trail is owned by Taylor Shellfish and coordinated by South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group.

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Looking to Volunteer?

Summer is flying by and we find ourselves already diving into planning for another season
at the Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail. We are looking forward to another wonderful fall, bringing students and community members face to face with wild chum salmon right here
in the South Sound. It would be a drastic understatement to say this program would not be the same without the generous help of all of our volunteers who help us maintain the trail, lead field trips, and answer weekend visitor’s questions.

We plan to hold training at the Trail in October, so let us know if you are interested and we’ll make sure to keep you updated!



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