One of the greatest spectacles in the natural world is about to take place on the Kitsap Peninsula and you can witness it firsthand during Kitsap Salmon Tours November 3, 2018 – 10 am – 2 pm
Each fall, salmon return to the streams where they were born, ending a multi-year migration to the sea and laying eggs that will start the cycle anew. Watching the fish fight their way upstream to spawn is a uniquely compelling Pacific Northwest ritual.
“There’s really a sense of wonderment and awe and surprise,” said Renee Johnson, salmon docent coordinator for WSU Extension.
Look for fish laying on their sides, thrashing their tails to dig into gravel streambeds. Those are females creating nests known as redds. If there are no fish around, see if you can spot redds. They are oval-shaped areas where the gravel looks lighter or cleaner.
To give the next generation of salmon a fighting chance, approach streams quietly and stay out of the water. Johnson also encourages visitors to leave dogs at home because they can get sick from eating the carcasses of salmon that die after spawning.
Trained docents and wildlife biologists will be on hand at seven free events to discuss the types of salmon in Kitsap streams, the salmon lifecycle and healthy fish habitat. The tours occur rain or shine, so dress for the weather and wear appropriate shoes for streamside viewing.
November 3 | 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the following locations around the Kitsap Peninsula
- Poulsbo’s Fish Park – The park at 288 NW Lindvig Way, Poulsbo, has nearly two miles of trails and multiple vantage points for salmon viewing. A number of people and organizations, including The Frog Lady and WSU Stream Stewards, will be on hand with activities, crafts and information for the whole family. Park details.
- Chico Salmon Viewing Park – Considered one of the best sites for salmon viewing, this park at Chico Way and Golf Club Hill features a quarter-mile path, a wheelchair-accessible viewing area and a giant uprooted cedar stump with spawning salmon carved into it. There will be informational booths, activities and refreshments. Located on Chico Way at Golf Club Hill Rd, Bremerton. More info.
- Keta Legacy Rhododendron Preserve – Join biologists on guided hikes through old-growth forest to Chico Creek at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The hikes cover steep terrain and are about 1.5 miles round-trip. West Sound Wildlife Shelter is bringing a barred owl and will present a program at the Mountaineers cabin from noon-1 p.m. Address: 2401 Seabeck Highway NW, Bremerton. More about the preserve.
- Mouth of Chico Creek – See the results of restoration work to improve salmon habitat on the lower reaches of the creek. A new trail allows visitors to reach the delta, a popular fishing spot during salmon runs. Experts from the Suquamish Tribe and Great Peninsula Conservancy will be on hand at 4270 Kittyhawk Dr. NW, Bremerton.
- Dickerson Creek – More habitat restoration and smaller crowds make this site at 2613 Northlake Way NW, Bremerton, a good choice for quiet viewing. Located on Taylor Road off Northlake Way, Bremerton.
- Clear Creek Trail – RIdgetop Pavilion – The removal of salmon-blocking culverts and replacement of the Bucklin Hill Bridge are expected to improve fish passage at 9228 RIdgetop Blvd, Silverdale. Allow time to explore the trail and enjoy other good sites for salmon viewing, including the bridge behind All Star Lanes bowling alley. Clear Creek map.
- Otto Jarstad Park – The Kitsap Poggie Club will be on hand to talk about habitat restoration and will dissect a salmon. Address: 4230 W. Belfair Valley Road, Bremerton. Park info.
- Salmon Haven at Dickerson Creek – located at Northlake Way NW and Taylor Rd, Bremerton. Wheelchair accessible.
- Chico Creek Mouth – located at 4270 Kitty Hawk Dr. NW, Bremerton
- Cowling Creek – Self-guided tours are available all month at this site, which is the home of the Suquamish Tribe’s salmon recovery research, education and outreach program. Up to 30,000 chum salmon return to the creek each fall, providing food for the bears, eagles and river otters that live in the 42-acre forested preserve. Address: 20325 Miller Bay Road NE, Poulsbo. More info.
For more information about salmon on the Kitsap Peninsula, including an interactive map, click here. To plan a salmon watching getaway, go to the VKP website.
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