Sunday, October 06, 2013

King Salmon Run Up The Yuba

Roger and I did something we hardly ever do. We joined a group of strangers on the banks of the lower Yuba River to watch the King Salmon run. I read about it in the local online press last month and registered us for Saturday morning (10/5). We drove about 40 miles to get to this spot. We didn't know what to expect, and were a bit surprised to have two reps from California Fish and Game come and spend time talking about the crazy life of salmon.
You can barely make out the tail of this salmon making its way up the river. The Fish and Game folks explained that these salmon are probably from the Feather River, but come to the Yuba to spawn. I'm pretty sure he said only one or two salmon that actually hatch here, survive to make it back. The rest are from out of town, so to speak.
When we weren't trying to spot these tail-flipping giants on their biological way to salmon nirvana, we were treated to the sight of osprey overhead. We hadn't seen osprey in a very long time. They were quite beautiful against the cloudless blue sky.
The best and most soulful view we had of these salmon was of their dead bodies along the shore. I'm sure when we crazy tourists leave, the vultures come and have a monstrously good picnic.

It's interesting to think of such a compelling life history, to be biologically driven to make this journey from the sea to reproduce and to die. We come to watch them, to be a witness to the power of their genetic message. At least that's why Roger and I were there. Some of the others were there to watch and talk about how delicious salmon are when they're freshly caught and barbecued.

Ps-- Remember that pic I took of the lenticular cloud with lacunosus? I sent it to the Cloud Appreciation Society and they published it on their website. Wheee!


  1. It doesn't take much to extrapolate the reproductive drive and relatively short life of salmon to some higher mammals.

  2. I love seeing that river and those mountains and the osprey and the salmon. Thank you.

    Congratulations on having one of your cloud photos on the Cloud Appreciation Society website!

  3. We have Chinook Salmon that come up a creek near where we live. I am not sure about the spawning or location of their adult time. Guess I should check it out sometime. I know they come up from Lake Ontario but I don't know if they go further.

  4. pablo-- What higher mammals would that be?

    am-- It was quite a beautiful day out there on the river. The water is so low this time of the year, but those salmon still struggle against the current. And, thank you for your congrats!

    Ontario Wanderer-- I just googled Chinook salmon and found that they are also called King salmon. Largest species of salmon. Your salmon must travel to the sea at some point in their adult lives. It's in their genes to go. Roger read about Chum salmon that we used to up in Port Townsend. Some chum go 2000 miles up the Yukon. These are such impressive creatures.

  5. Congrats on becoming a published photographer. That has to feel really good.
    The cycle of the salmon has always been so depressing to me. They work so hard for so little reward.

  6. Envy! We don't get salmon runs here! Congrats on that photo being published !

  7. Congrats, Robin! WooHoo!

    Eagles are arriving in droves to feast on the salmon which are everywhere around us right now. Seeing hundreds of eagles on the Skagit River in another month or so is such a thrill. (Wish I had known this years ago when we were trying to find eagles! hahaha) The first time I saw this I went crazy with excitement. Saturday's Coho and Pinks on the Skykomish brought a few eagles. I imagine the bears are also feasting out of our sight as they prepare for hibernation. Nature and its perfect gifts...

  8. Nice post, Robin Andrea and Roger. I've only seen migrating salmon two times: once in the glass-walled fish ladder in the Seattle Shipping Canal, and a second time three summers ago when we rafted the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho. On the Idaho trip, the fish (very, very few) had made it all the way up the Columbia and Salmon rivers, through the daunting gauntlet of dams, to reach the Rockies. It was great to see them.

  9. karmanot-- Thank you!

    Arkansas Patti-- It is really something to watch them move up the river. Makes me wonder if they "know" what happens after they've completed their amazing mission.

    FC-- Your comment makes me want to look at salmon run maps. I don't know why I always think that if there's an ocean and a river, there will be salmon running.

    Sky-- I hope you are taking wonderful photos of the action in the pacific northwest. I think I remember seeing a pic of so many eagles it was hard to count!

    Scott--- So glad you liked the post. The salmon we were watching were heading up to a dam that has a fish ladder. The hearty ones make that journey and keep heading further up the Yuba. There really is something about seeing them.

    Here's a link to a post we did seven years ago about the Chum Salmon running up Chimacum Creek, a short walk from our house in Port Townsend, WA.

  10. What a sight. Congratulations on the photograph.

  11. Congrats on your photo! That is pretty cool.
    I enlarged these photos and they are really beautiful. Nice job! Nature is amazing...

  12. Pat-- Thank you! I bet you see some great clouds out in the desert. I think the Cloud Appreciation Society would like to see some of that!