Countless peamouth minnows* return to Bellevue’s Kelsey Creek in the spring to spawn, and then head back to Lake Washington. The creek is plastered with gazillions of sticky little eggs. Unlike the stereotypical minnow (about 1-1/2 inches), peamouth average a foot long and live an average of eight years.
* Mylocheilus caurinus, aka peamouth is a species of freshwater ray-finned fish from the family Cyprinidae, the carps and minnows, found in North America west of the Continental Divide.
Unlike salmon, peamouth don’t mind warmer water and lower stream levels in the spring. So, you’ll see them earlier in the year than salmon.
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When and where to watch the giant Peamouth minnow spawn
The best spots to watch the peamouth are by Kelsey Creek, under the Wilburton Trestle, and at the Mercer Slough Fish Ladder. Watch quietly at these sites and in addition to the peamouth, you may see other wildlife looking for dinner, including blue heron, wood ducks, river otters, and bald eagles. Peamouth are typically observed one to four times from late April through June–but they are only around for 12-48 hours, so if you want to see them you have to be there at the right time.
To receive an alert when the peamouth are in town, Subscribe for Alerts on this page: https://dev.bellevuewa.gov/city-government/departments/utilities/conservation-and-the-environment/protecting-our-waterways/peamouth-minnows.
Can’t make the trek? Then watch for wildlife on the Kelsey Creek Camera. You’ll likely see blue heron, crows, ducks, and other local birds, and maybe a deer, raccoon, beaver. If you are really lucky, you might spot a salmon or blue heron dining on a peamouth minnow. You might also see people, as there are viewing platforms at the upstream end of the view and occasional scientists doing research in the area.
Watch the City of Bellevue Kelsey Creek camera: Kelsey Creek Camera | City of Bellevue (bellevuewa.gov)
Salmon spawn later in the year, from early summer through fall. We’ve got the whole skinny on this fish show: Salmon spawning season in Western Washington