Skagit Eagles and Salmon My first trip eagle-watching becomes a salmon hatchery experience, January 2001.
After hearing in the Seattle Times that eagle feeding was at its peak in the Skagit, I decided to brave the cold and go eagle watching. Jim and I packed our lunches, hot coffee and headed to the North Cascades.
We hooked up with Libbie and Lee Soden who acted as our guides to the Skagit area. It was a typically beautiful day for January in the Washington. The views of the Cascades were wonderful as we drove west on the North Cascades Highway.
It did not take long to find hungry birds. Unfortunately, recent rains brought the level of the Skagit River up several feet. This means that the gravel bars that usually contain all the salmon sushi were covered with rushing water. The gravel bars are the sushi bars for the eagles. So we saw eagles in trees, but none feeding.
We made a visit to the Marblemount Hatchery where we joined a tour hosted by the USDA Forest Service. It was fantastic seeing how the hatchery functioned. The salmon eggs are the bright red nodules in this photo.
The smolt and fry live at the hatchery until they have a good chance at life in natural world. I learned that the hatchery fish and wild fish are distinquished by a physical characteristic. A secondary dorsal fin is trimmed away from the body of the hatchery fish.
In the creek leading up to the hatchery were silver and steelhead determined to procreate and succumb to their cyle of life in the process. In a way it was quite moving.  We visited a number of other creeks that day and saw a similar scene. I admit that when it was over I had a terrible craving for salmon for dinner.