- Erica Innes and her children Sam and Jorja August watch two adult Chinook salmon fight over stream bed territory in Swift Creek just off Hwy 5 in Valemount.
The Chinook Salmon have returned to Swift Creek in Valemount. The 1300-kilometre journey is one of the longest made by migratory Chinook anywhere in the world. Only about 25 out of 100 survive the journey up to the headwaters of the Fraser River drainage.
The life cycle of the Chinook seen in Swift Creek is 3-4 years. Female Chinook dig nests in the gravel bed of the creek, then lay their eggs. Males Chinook then fertilize their eggs by releasing sperm just upstream of the nests. Both adults die once they have completed spawning. The eggs take about 90 days to hatch, and after 18 months of feeding in the creek, juvenile salmon (smolts) swim back to the ocean where they mature into adult salmon only to return to the very same stream a few years later.
The best locations to view the salmon are in Valemount at George Hicks Regional Park near the Valemount Visitor Centre, or at Rearguard Falls on Highway 16, about 10 km south of Mt. Robson.
The Valemount visitor information center will be presenting free salmon talks everyday at 7 p.m. for the remainder of August. The presentation is 30-40 minutes long and visitor centre staff will give detailed information on the salmon and their life-cycle.
Visitor Centre staff warn not to harass the salmon, by sttaying out of the creek and keeping dogs on a leash. It is an offense to physically harm Chinook salmon when they are spawning.