Conservation Science

Kokanee salmon coming to big screens across Washington

With the help of our friends, the Trout Unlimited team in Washington has been working toward an exciting project, and we need your help. Introducing: Spawning Grounds: the story of a little red fish and the urgent effort to keep them from going extinct. 

For more than two years a Seattle based Emmy-winning filmmaker, Nils Cowen of Hemlock Productions, has been following the recovery effort of the native Lake Sammamish kokanee Salmon.  This non-anadromous form of sockeye was once the most abundant salmonid in the watershed and an important cultural and ecological resource. Today they are barely hanging on with only 112 adult fish returning to spawn last season.  These charismatic fish have inspired an upswell of support from the local community, the surrounding jurisdictions, and federal, state, and county agencies. 

Filmed throughout western Washington, the documentary follows several key characters from different backgrounds and organizations—conservationists, government officials, tribal leaders, anglers and private citizens—as they work in a unique partnership to restore kokanee habitat during this critical time and educate a rapidly growing community about the plight of this watershed icon.

The costs of early work on the film have been covered by grants from several non-profit groups and community organizations including Trout Unlimited Bellevue/Issaquah, the Snoqualmie Tribe, 4Culture and others. A small but very important final infusion of funds is needed for final editing and post-production finishing of the film and ensure a fall 2019 release.

Please join the effort to save this iconic salmon and help us bring this important story to life. Learn more at:

For additional information, please contact:

Dave Kyle, TU’s Lake Sammamish Kokanee Recovery Project manager at

By David Kyle.