Spawning salmon also give budding photographers a great subject matter. Scout local rivers for spawning nests, called redds, where the gravel is scuffed up by fish. Watch for dorsal fins breaking the surface. Keep the sun at your back and use a polarizing filter if it’s a sunny day.
All viewers should watch spawning from a short distance without disturbing the fish or walking on redds. Viewing conditions can be limited after rainstorms, but water usually clears within a few days.
These locations around southwestern Oregon all offer excellent viewing.
Rogue Valley: Fall chinook spawn early October through early January. Peak viewing is October through November.
Bear Creek by the Rogue Valley Mall, near Hawthorne Park, and other locations on the Bear Creek Greenway including Pine Street Bridge in Central Point.
Valley of the Rogue State Park. Look for spawning salmon on shallow gravel bars.
Rogue River at the Reinhart Park pedestrian bridge in Grants Pass.
Cantrall Buckley Park on the Applegate River. Peak viewing is late October through November.
Douglas County: October is peak spawning for fall chinook.
South Umpqua River at the Roseburg Visitor’s Center, Happy Valley Boat Ramp, Lower Cow Creek (Douglas County road 39) and at Sun Studs on Highway 99.
Umpqua River at Myrtle Island/Tyee.
Coho salmon spawn in late November through early December. The following sites can be seen by walking along tributaries. Walking is moderate to difficult.
South Umpqua River at Deer Creek, Myrtle Creek, and the Upper South Umpqua below Tiller. Island Creek Day Use Area and Long Fibre Park on Cow Creek are also excellent.
North Umpqua River at Little River along Highway 138.
Umpqua River at Dean Creek, Scholfield Creek, Paradise Creek, Weatherly Creek, Brush Creek, Calapooya Creek, and Wolf Creek.
Smith River at West Fork Smith River, North and Sisters creeks, North Fork Smith River, and Spencer Creek on BLM lands.
Winchester Dam Fish Viewing Area
Coos County: Fall chinook spawn October through mid-December, peaking in mid-November. The best viewing areas include:
West Fork Millicoma River beginning with the Millicoma Interpretive Center near Allegany. The Center is wheelchair accessible and kid-friendly. For the next several miles upstream, many spawning areas are visible from a vehicle.
The mouth of Glenn Creek about six miles upriver from Allegany.
Tioga Creek which can be accessed from Middle Creek Road above Fairview.
LaVerne Park on the North Fork Coquille River. Salmon are seen in the swimming hole area and jumping at the falls. They also can be seen spawning above the boulder weirs just upriver from the upper park boundary.
Frona Park on the East Fork Coquille River near Dora.
Baker Creek Boat Ramp on the South Fork Coquille River.
Coho salmon spawning peaks in December in the Coos River system. In the Coquille River system, coho spawning peaks in late December to early January. Coho can be seen spawning at the following locations:
Millicoma Interpretive Center.
Marlow Creek. One mile past Allegany, turn left onto County Road which eventually turns into State Forest Road 1000. Salmon can be seen from a vehicle.
East Fork Coquille River above the mouth of China Creek, about three miles upriver of Dora.
Steel Creek, a tributary of East Fork Coquille River at Dora.
Middle Creek above the fish ladder, about two miles upstream from the BLM’s Middle Creek Recreation Site. Spawning salmon can be seen from a vehicle.
Moon Creek about three miles upriver of LaVerne Park. Salmon can be seen spawning on gravel trapped by logs placed during fish habitat improvement projects as part of the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds.
Curry County: Fall chinook spawning in south coast rivers peaks in early to mid-December. Easily accessible viewing areas include:
Edson Creek, tributary to Sixes River, about 4.5 miles upriver from Highway 101. Chinook salmon, and occasionally coho, can be seen spawning throughout the lower mile of Edson Creek accessed through the BLM campground.
Elk River beginning at Elk River Hatchery. For the next 10 miles upriver, spawning areas are visible from a vehicle and at Siskiyou National Forest campgrounds at Sunshine Creek, Panther Creek, and Butler Bar.
Winchuck River beginning at the Siskiyou National Forest boundary about seven miles upriver from Highway 101. Spawning areas are visible from a vehicle upriver for about four miles to the East Fork and at Winchuck Campground and Ludlum House.
The mission of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is to protect and enhance Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations. The agency consists of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, a commission-appointed director and a statewide staff of approximately 950 permanent employees. Headquartered in Salem, ODFW has regional offices in Clackamas, Roseburg, Bend, and La Grande with ten district offices located throughout the state. For additional information, please visit www.dfw.state.or.us.