Olympic Peninsula Regional Anadromous Fish Habitat Intrinsic Potential Modeling

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A discussion on the Life Cycle of Chinook Salmon



Significant fall Chinook spawning takes place above the tidal zone in the Quillayute and Hoh mainstems and larger tributaries. For the Quillayute system, this includes the East and West forks of the Dickey, the Soleduc, Bogachiel, and Calawah. Spring and summer fish use the Soleduc, Bogachiel, and the Calawah and their larger tributaries.

The Hoh system is the most significant habitat for spring and summer run fish, which spawn in the South Fork and Winfield creek. Fall Chinook use the South Fork, Owl creek, Nolan creek and Mount Tom creek[a].


Fall Chinook use the Queets river system extensively, with the main stem Queets up to Matheny creek as well as the Clearwater and major tributaries. Important habitat also exists in Matheny creek, Salmon river, Tshletshy creek and Sams river.

Spring and Summer Chinook spawn in the upper reaches of the Queets, lower Matheny creek, and the upper Clearwater and tributaries[b].


The Bear river mainstem provides fall Chinook with some spawning grounds as the tributaries are generally too small and don't have much in the way of suitable structure[c].

[a] WDFW 2003 WRIA 20 Salmonid Fish Inventory

[b] WDFW 2003 WRIA 21 Salmonid Fish Inventory

[c] WDFW 2003 WRIA 24 Salmonid Fish Inventory

Chinook Life Cycle Habits

Life Cycle Timing

These tables provide information on the timing of all life cycle stages for all OWC Chinook runs. Note that they are part of the WRIA Salmonid Fish Inventory and Distribution provided by WDFW in 2003.

See Chinook freshwater life cycle timing table for WRIA 20 here.

See Chinook freshwater life cycle timing table for WRIA 21 here.

See Chinook freshwater life cycle timing table for WRIA 24 here.

Chinook Run Differentiation

At the workshop, ODFW thought that it would be difficult to differentiate spring Chinook spawning vs rearing areas spatially. Busch et al, 2011 came up with an elevation cutoff to differentiate fall Chinook spawning areas from Spring Chinook potential spawning areas (based on historical and current fish distribution / spawning distribution maps). 

Chinook fish network cutoffs

Mindi Scheer suggested a method to differentiate the two major runs, which would use MAF in a different way as a seasonal 'cutoff'. A 'minimum annual monthly flow' or a similar property using the time frame of fall Chinook spawning (Mindi Scheer, pers. comm. 10/31/2012) should be considered. Applying this cutoff to MAF discharge property would give you a conservative estimate ie, if the mean annual flow is as low as the 'minimum annual monthly flow' value makes it a good bet it's not passable for fall chinook (Mindi Scheer, pers. comm. 11/24/2012).

It was also suggested that using BFW or wetted width as a cutoff might be an option. Fish biologists would have to determine what the minimum stream width is for fall Chinook adult passage.

It should be noted that some falls will be passable for spring Chinook but not for fall Chinook as water volume over the falls change seasonally.