While we are unable to run our Salmon Excursions this year, you can still get out and watch fall run Chinook Salmon spawn in the Lower Yuba. Here’s where to find them and how you can view them safely.
Where to See Salmon
The best and most accessible viewing site for Chinook on the Lower Yuba is at Hammon Grove Park. Hammon Grove Park is located at 5560 State Highway 20, Browns Valley, CA, 95918, about halfway between Nevada City and Marysville. Be aware that there is a fair amount of construction on Highway 20 on the 4 mile stretch right before you get to the park from Nevada City, and as you come through the park entrance as well.
Once you arrive at Hammon Grove, drive all the way down River Access Road (the main road you will already be on) until you reach the parking lot at the end (about 0.5 miles).
Once you park, you will see a gravel trail from the parking lot to the river’s edge.
Walk down the trail about 300-400 feet, and you will see some picnic benches on your left, with the river in front of you. This will give you a great view of our Hammon Bar Restoration site, across the river on river left.
From this picnic bench viewpoint, there is a good chance that you could see Chinook swimming upstream. You may even see male Chinook fighting for the right to spawn, or female Chinook fighting to defend their nests from other female Chinook trying to swoop in and steal all her hard nest-building work.
When to Look for Salmon
Typically, the fall run lasts from early October through the end of November. Sometimes it runs longer, but it just depends on the season.
How to Spot a Redd
Chinook build their redds, or nests, out of grapefruit sized rocks at the bottom of the river. When the females turn the rocks over to make a depression for their egg deposits, they end up removing much of the algae that has accumulated on the rocks, exposing the white or light color of the rocks. This makes it really easy to spot the redd- look for giant circles of white (anywhere from 3 ft wide to 9 or 10 ft long) at the bottom of the river.
Please Be Mindful of the Following When Viewing Salmon Redds
- DO NOT try to swim in this section of the river. Not only is the current fast-moving, with a dam just a few miles downstream, but if you stand up in the river, you risk damaging the redds and the eggs. As Chinook are classified as a Threatened Species, every egg counts!
- Please do not throw rocks into the river, as this could also damage the eggs.
- Be sure to pick up any trash and belongings, and be mindful of not taking plant clippings with you. Practicing “Leave No Trace” Principles is the key to sustaining healthy ecosystems- taking only photos, leaving only footprints!
Want to learn more about Chinook and how you can protect them?
We’d love if you joined us for a future Salmon Float or Hiking Expedition to learn more about these fish in person. While we wish we could offer these expeditions this year, due to COVID-19, we have postponed all in-person expeditions.
That being said, we are offering a Virtual Salmon Expedition Program for only $15.00, with seven episodes all about Chinook that you can watch before you come view them in person, giving you a whole new appreciation for these amazing fish!
You can also check out our Yuba Salmon Now Campaign, where you can learn more about how you can become a Salmon Saver, and get involved with SYRCL’s Salmon Habitat Conservation work!
Further questions about viewing salmon? Contact River Education Manager Ray Lubitz at email@example.com.
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