Fishermen worried they’re still up a creek

Thor Moen points out a meandering channel and a pile of driftwood he and other fishermen believe are preventing salmon from entering Glendale Creek. - Matt Johnson
Thor Moen points out a meandering channel and a pile of driftwood he and other fishermen believe are preventing salmon from entering Glendale Creek.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

Fishermen who frequent the pier and shore in Glendale wonder when or if they will see fish swim up Glendale Creek this fall.

A few weeks ago, the creek seemed to be ready for a record salmon run. Last month, a contractor working for Island County finished building the last of several large, concrete culverts into the stream bed that are designed to allow easy fish access. Farther upstream, Island Asphalt put the finishing touches on earth retaining structures and asphalt patches on Glendale Road, which has been closed since 1997 due to slides. And on Monday, an Island County road crew gave the road an even surface by sealcoating it with an epoxy sealant and gravel.

That final step, though long part of the county’s construction plan on the road, incensed Glendale resident John Crawford this week. He said he called a biologist at the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife when he he saw the work start on the road, which is adjacent to the creek.

“This is all going to leach into the creek,” he said.

According to Island County Road Shop supervisor Myron Gabelein, leaching should not be a problem. He said the fast-drying epoxy sealant his crew used to surface is more fish friendly than the standard, oil-based sealant the county uses on most of its roads.

To make sure the work did not harm the fish, he said his crew returned to the site later in the week to clean any excess sealant and gravel out of catch basins and along the road.

But there is another problem that could literally be a bigger barrier for the fish. Thor Moen, a fisherman and Glendale resident, said the salmon are not entering the creek because a log jam at the creek’s mouth and a large sand bar are in the way. Both obstacles resulted from a winter storm last year, he said.

He did acknowledge it is early in the salmon spawning season and that the number of fish waiting to enter the creek may be small. That is evidenced by fishermen who have gone away empty handed from waters off Glendale.

“They didn’t seem to be getting much in their nets,” he said.

Crawford also pointed to the log jam and sand bar as a problem. He said someone — whether it be the county or an individual — needs to cut a ditch through the bar and clear away the logs.

Still, it may be too early to get worried. With the spawning season running from mid-October through January, Fish and Wildlife biologist Rich Johnson said coho and chum salmon have yet to arrive at a number of spawning streams. He said he is confident the fish will make their way up the stream when they are ready.

“The salmon are going to swim in when the tide is high,” he said.

Construction work in the Glendale canyon is largely finished. A county road crew was expected to paint lines on the road Friday. After that, it will be up to the board of Island County Commissioners to declare the road open to traffic.

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