Each fall the salmon start running in our rivers in B.C., attracting fishers and fish-watchers alike to witness the spectacle of them spawning.
Some years are more productive than others, like this year’s Fraser River sockeye salmon run that you may have heard about. Hundreds of thousands of those fish have made their way hundreds of kilometres to the north, into the Adams River where they will spawn and eventually die. They put on a festival for them there called A Salute to the Sockeye and it’s worth the road trip if you want to see tons of salmon.
If you don’t have a couple of days there are still a number of places you can go locally to take a peek at these fish as they gather to procreate.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans hands out a 24-page booklet at some of its hatcheries around the province, listing places where people can go to see the magic and wonder of these great fish.
They also release an online version, which you can check out HERE. Below are all of the places they have listed near Vancouver, which you can get to and back in a few hours or less.
Capilano River Salmon Hatchery
Location: North Vancouver
Drive north on Capilano Road in North Vancouver and turn left into Capilano Park Road.
Species: Chinook, coho and steelhead
Best Times: Adult coho, July-October; chinook, September-October. Juvenile chinook, January-May; young coho and steelhead year-round.
Other Attractions: Wheelchair access; picnic tables and public washrooms in Capilano Park. Hatchery open 8 a.m. to dusk; numerous trails including 30-minute hike to Cleveland Dam.
Contact: 4500 Capilano Road, North Vancouver, B.C. V7R 4L3
Phone: 604-666-1790 Fax: 604-666-1949
Terminal Creek Fishway / Bowen Is. Fish & Wildlife Club Hatchery
Location: On Bowen Island, in Crippen Park
Directions: From ferry dock, walk to the old general store. Look for Crippen Park; signs marking the trail; a ten minute walk will bring you to the observation deck at fishway, trail goes to hatchery.
Species: Coho, chum and chinook
Best Times: November and December.
Other Attractions: Park, trail alongside hatchery, beaches.
Contact: Bowen Island Fish & Wildlife Club, Bowen Island, B.C.V0N 1G0
For information or to arrange tours, phone 947-2242 or 947-0072
Tenderfoot Creek Hatchery
Location: North of Squamish
Directions: North on Highway 99 from Squamish, left at Cheekye turn-off for 5 km; cross bridge, right on Paradise Road; right on Midnight Way; travel 1 km to hatchery.
Species: Chinook, coho, pinks in odd-numbered years
Best Times: Adult chinook, August-September; coho November-February. Juvenile chinook, December-May, coho year-round.
Other Attractions: Cheakamus Canyon, Alice Lake, Whistler Ski Resort. Eagle viewing December-February. Visitors welcome
Contact: Box 477, Brackendale, B.C. V0N 1H0 Phone: 604-898-3657 Fax: 604-898-5692 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. daily.
Bell-Irving Hatchery on Kanaka Creek
Location: Maple Ridge
Travel one km south of Dewdney Trunk Road on 256th Street; there is a sign at entrance.
Species: Chum, coho, pink, steelhead and cutthroat
Best Times: Fish to see year-round; juveniles March-May; chum and coho spawners October- December at counting fence at 240th Street Bridge. Daily tours.
Other Attractions: Cliff Falls downstream, picnic tables at hatchery, trails.
Contact: John Heaven, Bell Irving/Kanaka Creek Hatchery, 11450 – 256th St, Maple Ridge, B.C. V2X 7E6 Phone: 604-462-8643
Inch Creek Hatchery
Location: Near Mission
Directions: East on Hwy.7 to Dewdney railroad tracks; east on Hawkins-Pickle Rd; one-half km past a dog-leg in Hawkins-Pickle Road, road name changes to Bell and there are signs to hatchery.
Species: Chum and coho; also sturgeon in pond
Best Times: Adult chum and coho, late October-December; juvenile chum March-April; coho and sturgeon year-round.
Other Attractions: Golden Ears Provincial Park.
Contact: Box 61, 38620 Bell Rd, Dewdney, B.C. V0M 1H0 Phone: 604-826-0244 Fax: 604-826-1446
Chehalis River Hatchery
Location: Harrison Mills area
From Highway 7, turn north on Morris Valley Road at the Sasquatch Inn. Hatchery is located on east side of road about 10 km north of Highway 7.
Species: Chum, coho, chinook, steelhead and cutthroat
Best Times: Adult chum October-December; chinook July -November; coho October-January; juvenile chum April-May; chinook March-May; coho year-round.
Other Attractions: Weaver Creek spawning channel for sockeye; Hemlock Valley ski area.
Contact: 16250 Morris Valley Road, Agassiz, B.C. V0M 1A0 Phone: 604-796-2281 Fax: 604-796-9631
Weaver Creek Project
Location: Harrison Mills area
From Highway 7, north on Morris Valley Road at Sasquatch Inn; follow signs to spawning channel (3 km north of Chehalis River hatchery).
Species: Sockeye, some chum and pink
Best Times: Sockeye spawning in October.
Other Attractions: Display on sockeye salmon; brochures and self-guided tour.
Contact: Phone: 604-796-9444 or contact Chehalis River Hatchery
Little Campbell Hatchery
Location: 1284 – 184th Street, Surrey, on the Little Campbell River
Directions: From Hwy. 99 go east on Hwy. 10, and turn right onto 184. Look for the club sign on your left. Or take 8th Ave. east from Hwy 99 to 184th and turn left.
Species: Coho, steelhead, cutthroat, chinook
Best Times: Adults, October-January; juveniles in spring.
Other Attractions: Picnic site, trails, ducks being raised.
Contact: Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club, 1284-184th St., Surrey, B.C. V4P 1M7 Phone: 604-541-0495. Visitors welcome.
Tynehead Enhancement Hatchery
Location: 16585 – 96th Ave., North Surrey
Directions: from Highway 1, take Cloverdale Exit (176th St.) south. Turn right onto 96th Ave. (at first light) follow signs to Tynehead Regional Park. Tours by appointment only.
Species: Coho, chum, chinook and steelhead
Best Times: Adults, October-December; juvenile coho, March-May; chum fry, April-May. Juvenile steelhead year-round.
Other Attractions: Tynehead Regional Park marked nature trails; 15 minute drive to historic Fort Langley.
Contact: Serpentine Enhancement Society, 16585 96th Ave.,Surrey, B.C. V4N 2E2 Phone/Fax: 604-589-9127
Fraser Valley Trout Hatchery
Drive to Abbotsford on Highway 1 and take Exit 92 south for 2 km; turn west on Vye Road to the hatchery.
Species: Steelhead, cutthroat and rainbow trout
Best Times: Juvenile trout present year-round.
Other Attractions: Large public display area includes a theatre for films and slide shows. During July-August, open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. During rest of the year, open 5 days a week from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Please phone in advance to arrange tours.
Contact: 34345 Vye Road, Abbotsford, B.C. V2S 4N2 For Interpretive Centre Phone: 604-852-5444
Chilliwack River Hatchery
Location: Near Chilliwack
Directions: Take the Sardis exit south from Highway 1; drive to Chilliwack River crossing; turn east, hatchery located at junction of Slesse Creek with Chilliwack River.
Species: Chum, coho, chinook and steelhead
Best Times: Adult chum in November-December; coho, October-December; chinook, August-November; steelhead, March-April. Chum fry March-April; juvenile coho year-round; chinook fry, February-May; juvenile steelhead August-April.
Other Attractions: Slesse Park; picnic sites.
Contact: 55205 Chilliwack Lake Rd.,Chilliwack, B.C. V4Z 1A7 Phone: 604-858-7227 Fax: 604-858-0461