Spawning Salmon at Weaver Creek

Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) at the Weaver Creek Spawning Channel in British Columbia, Canada

male sockeye salmon jumping in weaver creek spawning channel

Male Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) jumping in the Weaver Creek (Purchase)

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   One of the best places to see spawning salmon near the Metro Vancouver area is the Weaver Creek Spawning Channel in the Fraser Valley. Weaver Creek runs through the District of Kent from Weaver Lake through to the Harrison River. In the fall Fisheries and Oceans Canada opens the channel area to the public to view the spawning salmon. I first came here as a kid, but have returned a number of times in the past few years to photograph the salmon.

sockeye salmon swimming in weaver creek spawning channel

Male Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) swimming upstream (Purchase)

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   Without an underwater housing and other special equipment most of the photographs one will be able to create will be looking at the salmon in the water, or jumping out of it. Photographing fish under water, from above, just leads to distorted salmon photos that don’t really work most of the time. After a few years of failed attempts at salmon photography I worked within these limitations and imagined a photograph with the salmon backs out of the water, with a glow from sunset or some other sort of reflection on the water. I did manage to create that salmon photograph eventually but it remains a bit more abstract than the images on this page.

sockeye salmon swimming in weaver creek spawning channel

Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) on an aeration plate (Purchase)

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   Throughout the channel there are “aeration plates” that add oxygen to the water but also likely prevent erosion of the small rises in elevation between the sections of the channel. The first image in this post shows a male Sockeye leaping into the air to get over one of the higher jumps to get into the channel. The aeration plates in the upper part of the channel are considerably lower. One of those is shown in the image above. Sometimes the salmon don’t quite have enough momentum or strength in order to get over the plates. This one came close, was swept back into the lower level but made it on the second attempt.

sockeye salmon swimming in weaver creek spawning channel

Salmon spawning in the Weaver Creek Spawning Channel (Purchase)

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For more photographs of salmon and other wildlife please visit my Animals & Wildlife Gallery.

My 10 Best Photos of 2011

reflection of mount shuksan in the silhouette of picture lake
Mount Shuksan Alpenglow

   It is always tough to narrow down a years worth of images into a list of the “best”. I did this last year and I think it is a valuable exercise. Jim Goldstein of JMG Galleries creates a list of everyone’s top 10 images each year. I made my first top 10 last year. This years list has fewer landscape and more wildlife photos. This is partly due to my not getting out to shoot as many landscapes as last year, and partly due to my backlog in image editing.

   You can click on each of the following images to go to the blog post that may tell a bit more about the location and how I made the photograph.

In no particular order my “Best of 2011″…

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Spawning Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)

Spawning Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) swimming upstream at Weaver Creek Spawning Channel.

spawning sockeye salmon - oncorhhynchus nerka - in weaver creek

Spawning Sockeye Salmon(Oncorhynchus nerka) at Weaver Creek (Purchase)

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   Last year I attempted to photograph spawning salmon in Weaver Creek in very late October. Most of the run had already finished, so there were a few salmon around but not many. This year I managed to get the timing a bit better, the run was late, and while I was there in late October again, there were plenty of salmon to photograph. This photograph is of two male Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) “treading water” on their way upstream in Weaver Creek.

   One of the things I quickly realized when photographing salmon like this is that its just not that easy to make a good photo. Last year I tried photographing salmon in this location and was somewhat disappointed with the results. It was immediately obvious to me when processing those images that my expectations of what would be possible were way too high. The water distorts so much of the salmon shapes that some of my original ideas were not possible. This year returning I had thought about it a bit more and came up with this composition that I had planned. Salmon in the water like this are relatively easy to come by so I was left looking for a nice color reflection to give the scene something interesting. I think it works nicely.