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Weaver Creek Spawning Channel

Salmon Spawning in the Fraser Valley, BC – A Fun Day for the Family

By Patricia Cashin

If you are looking for something to do in October or November, a fun and educational activity for the whole family is to visit one or more of the Salmon Hatcheries or Spawning Channels in the Vancouver area and Fraser Valley.

Inch Creek Hatchery

Inch Creek Hatchery

One beautiful autumn day that’s exactly what a group of us did. And to add to our enjoyable day out we put the top down on our miatas and took some lovely country roads out into the Fraser Valley, surrounded by the beautiful red and gold colours of autumn. Our destination –  Inch Creek Hatchery just east of Mission, and Weaver Creek Spawning Channel near Harrison Mills.

Small Fry at Inch Creek Hatchery

Small Fry at Inch Creek Hatchery: Photo Trish C

Inch Creek Hatchery

Inch Creek was our first stop where we were immediately introduced to Gord and Larry, two large resident sturgeon who have lived here for over 30 years and we did get a peak at them although they were well hidden in the dark water.  The best time to view salmon at Inch Creek is in November but when we visited there were hundreds of small fry being reared for later release into the local rivers. This facility also operates a salmon conservation program where vulnerable salmon species are reared in the hopes of bringing the numbers back. Inch Creek also hosts the annual Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival held mid-November.

Weaver Creek Spawning Channel

Weaver Creek Spawning Channel: Photo Trish C

Weaver Creek Spawning Channel

Weaver Creek Spawning Channel is a busy place – for salmon and people! In 2018 sockeye and chum proliferated, 2019 is the pinks. Chum and sockeye salmon return as mature adults when they are 4 years old. Pinks return every 2 years and only on odd-numbered years.

Sockeye & Chum at Weaver Creek

Sockeye & Chum at Weaver Creek: Photo Trish C

This spawning channel is over three kilometres long on a course that meanders from Weaver Creek. The bed of the channel is gravel and the water is pristine. There were hundreds of red and silver salmon struggling to swim upstream jumping over man-made fish ladders and rocks to get to their original spawning grounds where they will lay their eggs.

Weaver Creek. Salmon jumping the Fish Ladder

Weaver Creek. Salmon jumping the Fish Ladder: Photo Trish C

The most salmon that have ever been recorded in this channel in one year is 100,000. In the spring, when the salmon eggs have grown into small fry they swim out of the channel into Weaver Creek and on to the Harrison River, eventually ending up in the Fraser River and finally the sea. Once this spawning cycle has ended the channel is drained and the gravel cleaned ready for the next year. Peak spawning at Weaver Creek takes place between October 15 – 20 but spawning salmon can be seen from October 6 to November 1. There are trails throughout the facility and boards that explain the salmon’s spawning activity and how they are managed at Weaver Creek.

Baords at Weaver Creek Highlight the Salmon's Activity

Boards at Weaver Creek Highlight the Salmon’s Activity: Photo Trish C

In addition to the two facilities we visited, there are other places around Vancouver and the Fraser Valley where you can see this phenomenon including Capilano River Hatchery in North Vancouver and Chilliwack River Hatchery. All these facilities are operated by Fisheries & Oceans Canada who have a total of 23 salmon hatcheries and spawning channels throughout BC.

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Published: October 17, 2019

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