Officers on the lookout for off-leash dogs at Carkeek Park

With the salmon spawning at Carkeek Park, Seattle Parks and Animal Control will be conducting emphasis patrols for any off-leash dogs.

Piper’s Creek at Carkeek is a popular salmon viewing spot, and Animal Control says dogs pose both a danger to the salmon and themselves. Salmon poisoning is fatal in 90% of dogs.

So officers are asking everyone to keep their dogs on a leash and out of the creek. Fines can range from $54 to $162.

For those wishing to view salmon in Piper’s Creek, the Salmon Stewards will be at the park every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. until Dec. 3 to help visitors spot returning salmon and answer questions.

A few tasty salmon secrets at SeafoodFest

If you’re headed to the Ballard SeafoodFest today (Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.), you can’t miss the salmon — from the annual salmon BBQ ($10) to a salmon fundraiser, selling whole fish for just $3 a pound.

The annual BBQ is a tradition that draws long lines with a delicious alder-fired recipe that hasn’t changed in decades. This is Warren Aakervik’s 35th year overseeing the BBQ, carefully monitoring the custom-built metal cookers to ensure the salmon is cooked just right. Also helping are Doug Dixon and Cam Hardy with others from Ballard Oil, Pacific Fishermen, Camco Electric and the Ballard High School Football team.

“The salmon is beautiful this year,” Aakervik told us. “The best part about it is we’re slightly behind. And when you’re slightly behind, the quality of the fish is much better.” Aakervik said the secret is to wait until the line gets longer, so the cooks are pulling fish straight off the BBQ to the plate without any delay. “It’s good, hot, moist and juicy, and just done. It’s the best.”

There’s another salmon secret down Market St. in front of the Pho Big Bowl restaurant. Since 2001, Bob and Janet Jones have been selling whole salmon (minus the head and insides) for just $3 a pound. They’re hoping raise $12,000 for charities in Italy, where they spent many years as missionaries.

For both the salmon BBQ and the fundraiser, a generous Trident Seafoods provides the fresh fish — donating 2,000 pounds for the BBQ and 6,000 pounds (at a steep discount) for the Jones family. So head on down, enjoy a great salmon BBQ and take home a fish for the freezer.

Earlier at SeafoodFest: “The Devastator” wins the lutefisk-eating contest

Locks to close on Thursday

Both the large and small locks will be closed this Thursday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The closure will allow dive teams to inspect an “Adult Salmon Exclusion Structure” immediately upstream of the locks. The system was installed last year to keep the salmon from being trapped in the return system. The doors of the system were closed on June 1 to prepare for this year’s salmon run. Dive teams want to inspect it to make sure it is working properly.

Ballard salmon is better

We spent Sunday afternoon at Salmon Days, the big annual festival in Issaquah. And as always, it featured the “World Famous Salmon BBQ.”

Sure, we’re a little biased, but we’re pleased to report it doesn’t come close to Warren Aakervik’s expert grilling at Ballard’s annual SeafoodFest. Not only does Aakervik’s salmon taste better, the helpings are bigger and the line moves faster. Those land dwellers in Issaquah can’t compete.

Big salmon migration now at the Locks

Thousands of chinook salmon are making their way through the Ballard Locks right now, much to the delight of tourists and children. In fact, some of the chinooks are the size of small children.

Today, several county, state and federal leaders including King County Executive Ron Sims held a press briefing near the fish ladder to praise the progress of restoring chinook habitats and migration. This year, more than 26,000 chinook are expected to move through the Locks toward spawning grounds in the Cedar and Sammamish river watersheds. Last year more than 31,000 chinook poured through the Locks — the highest return since 1970.

“This is the second year in a row of very strong returns for the fish, and we think that some of the habitat restoration work and fish passage improvements that we’ve been doing over the years in the Lake Washington/Sammamish/Cedar River Watershed are beginning to bear fruit,” explains Doug Williams from the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks.

Chinook salmon were listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1999.

Salmon Bay Nature Area ribbon cutting

Just a reminder, today (Saturday) is the ribbon-cutting ceremony and BBQ for the new Salmon Bay Nature Area overlook. It’s a new public plaza and deck that overlooks a stretch of undeveloped wooded land that provides refuge for migrating juvenile salmon. The ribbon cutting with the mayor is at 2 p.m., and an outdoor BBQ and live music will last until 4 p.m. It’s at 34th Ave NW and NW 54th St., west of Ballard Locks and east of the railroad bridge. Brought to you by Seattle Public Utilities and Groundswell NW.

Holy smolt! Another sign of spring

While it certainly hasn’t felt like spring very much so far, here’s one sign that nature’s eternal cycle is, well, cycling:

The smolt slides at the Locks are being made ready for the yearly exodus of young salmon migrating to Puget Sound. The slides give the salmon a safer route to salt water than the locks. According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, fish passing through the locks got their one-way ticket punched, so to speak, prompting the addition of the slides: “The fish were battered as they passed through barnacle-encrusted pipes at the bottom of the lock chambers at high speeds while the lock chambers were being filled. For young fish facing the stress of adjusting from freshwater to a saltwater environment, those injuries were fatal.”

All the slides should be operating by Friday.