Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Silver Creek reopened for fishing

Closure had been enacted during stressful conditions

Express Staff Writer

Silver Creek is considered one of the premier trout-fishing sites in the Northwest. Photo by Roland Lane

    Following several days of scattered rain, a 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. closure of access to Silver Creek was lifted by The Nature Conservancy on Friday morning. The closure had been enacted on July 17 to protect rainbow trout from further stress while water temperatures are high and dissolved oxygen is low.
    The poor water conditions were caused by low water levels in the creek this summer. The area has experienced several recent years of drought and a declining groundwater level.
    “The dissolved oxygen has come up a little bit and the temperatures have come down,” Silver Creek Preserve Manager Sunny Healey said. “It’s not great, but it’s better than it was in mid-July.”
    Oxygen levels drop to their lowest at night, when plants are not photosynthesizing and releasing oxygen into the water. Healey said the nighttime oxygen level should remain above 6 milligrams per liter of water to create good rainbow trout habitat, and the level on some nights last month was in the fours. She said that has improved to 5.5 milligrams during recent nights, while rising to 15 milligrams during the day.
    Healey said fly fishers have cooperated with the closure, and many people have stopped fishing the creek entirely during this time of stress for the trout.
    She said The Nature Conservancy, which owns the Silver Creek Preserve south of Bellevue, will continue to monitor water quality in the creek, and the closure may be reinstated.
    “The nights have been cooler and the days are getting shorter, so we’re hopeful,” Healey said, “but we still have all of August.”

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