To me, the salmon season is a magical time of year. I have been checking my neighborhood reaches of Ashland and Bear Creeks almost daily in search of these amazing fish, doing my own salmon run to North Mountain Park. Standing on the bridge by the Park, in a light drizzle, I scanned the creek and alerted my ears to any signs of splashing. And there she was, my first Rogue watershed salmon of the year, a female Chinook trying to fight her way up the shallow riffle as oblivious cars raced by. To me this is one of the most magical parts of the salmon returning home to our streams. Adult salmon, who left these creeks as tiny juveniles, now miraculously return after years spent in the ocean. They make it all the way back to Bear Creek, through a gauntlet of obstacles to find mates, spawn and die. Adult salmon are completing an amazing lifecycle right in our backyards if we only pause and listen for their splashing. My best wishes to the salmon returning home this fall, I hope you all spawn till you die.
How to identify salmon:
Many of the fish currently in Bear Creek are Chinook salmon. You can tell the males from the females due to the wear on their bodies as they get ready to spawn. Males will often have a white line down their dorsal side (back), where they have lost scales while fighting with other males. Females will have highly visible white caudal fins (tails) where they have worn down scales and flesh in the process of building their redds (nests).
Where to find salmon:
Salmon build their redds at the head of riffles, right before the water begins to speed up. This allows the eggs, buried deep in the redd, plenty of oxygen as they develop. At the riffle heads you can spot females flipping onto their sides to clean the cobbles and dig the redds, and males patrolling the area. Shallow riffles are also a great place to spot salmon as they splash their way upstream. Salmon have been spotted throughout Bear Creek in the recent weeks. Check out the Bear Creek Watershed Council for recent salmon observations and to contribute your own at: http://www.bearcreek-watershed.org/.
Check out my video of the Chinook salmon I spotted in Bear Creek:
How many salmon can you spot? Can you identify males or females? What is the fish doing at the end of the video clip?
Post your answers by commenting on this blog post. Happy salmon spotting!