Salmon Migration

By Chris Jones

We are lucky to live in a place where we can witness the high drama of salmon returning to their natal streams to complete their life cycle. Every river and stream in our region will have some salmon migrating all year, but September through early December is the peak. By early October, the pink (humpy) salmon have nearly completed spawning, and fall chum (dog), coho (silver), and king (chinook) are just entering their home streams. (Salmon seem to have two or more common names.) Steelhead technically are sea-going rainbow trout, and they are in rivers and streams almost year round.

At the locations below, look for chum salmon in the lower reaches of the stream and expect to see coho moving to the upper watershed. Kings and steelhead are sighted less frequently but do occur in larger rivers. Aside from the salmon themselves, look for disturbed, algae-free gravel patches, or “redds,” that mark where the salmon have mated and left fertilized eggs to hatch in the spring. You might see salmon guarding a patch of gravel anticipating a chance to mate.

  • Chimacum Creek: Explore the creek at HJ Carroll Park.
  • Elwha River: Seek overlooks where passing salmon are recolonizing
    after dam removal.
  • Duckabush River: Check the oxbow area protected by the Jefferson Land
    Trust. Use parking area beneath power lines on Duckabush Rd.
  • Dungeness River: Watch from the old railroad bridge at Sequim’s new
    Dungeness River Nature Center.