Surrey has often been called the City of Parks, and with over 600 parks and green spaces in the city, it’s a moniker that certainly rings true. Within all that lush greenery are creeks and rivers winding through the trails, giving life to the land. But did you know that there’s a lot of life inside those creeks and rivers too?
Many of Surrey’s rivers and creeks are extremely important habitats for various species of salmon. At the right time of year, if you pack your patience and have a keen eye, you can often see coho, chum, chinook, cutthroat, and even the hybrid steelhead returning to, spawning, maturing, and eventually leaving our waters. Autumn is the perfect time to watch the salmon’s homecoming to their birthplace to spawn in our streams. Springtime is the time to see juvenile salmon getting ready to make the big journey out to sea. Each year the volume of salmon differs, and present-day salmon runs occur in dominant years, which occur every four years. The last dominant year was 2018, which means that, in theory, 2022 will be the next one. This doesn’t mean that you won’t see any salmon in “off” years, but a dominant year will be that much more impressive.
And where exactly are all these beautiful spots to see salmon in Surrey? Below are the best spots in Surrey to catch a glimpse of salmon at hatcheries in the city, as well as in Surrey’s rivers. And a little helpful hint: salmon LOVE when it rains. So if you’re looking for the perfect condition to watch salmon leap from the water and swim upstream, it’s most opportunistic to do so with an umbrella and rain boots (and maybe even a camera)!
Tynehead Regional Park
16585 96 Avenue
Best times: October – December
Adult salmon who had made the journey all the way out to the ocean return to the Serpentine River after four years to complete their life cycle and make way for the next generation. The Serpentine River meanders through Tynehead Regional Park and the Salmon Habitat Loop Trail is perfect for a short walk for viewing spawning salmon. It has viewing bridges and interpretive signage explaining the salmon habitat and provides up-close views of the river, and hopefully the salmon. Also located in Tynehead Regional Park is the Tynehead Hatchery. Run entirely by volunteers, the Tynehead Hatchery ensures that populations of coho, chum, chinook, and steelhead continue to thrive in the Serpentine River. Take a tour of the Hatchery when volunteers are on-site (if the gates are open then it’s open), and if you’re lucky (read: it’s raining) you might just get to see the volunteers pulling salmon right from the river!
Little Campbell Hatchery
1284 184 Street
Best times: October to January
Another volunteer-run organization is the Little Campbell Hatchery. Running through the waters of the Little Campbell River are coho, chum, chinook, and steelhead, and this hatchery is dedicated to keeping their numbers healthy and strong. The Little Campbell Hatchery is often responsible for those super fun class projects, where classrooms hatch salmon fry and watch them grow big and strong until they can be released back into the river in the Spring. Not only do these types of projects help with salmon populations, but they also teach kids all about habitat conservation and salmon life-cycles.
If you’re looking for a few places off the beaten path, there are plenty of other rivers and streams in Surrey to catch the Salmon spawns. They do not have any guided tours, however, with a keen eye, anyone can spot some salmon! Here are a few options:
Follow along the Robson Ravine on 12499 100 Avenue to view salmon swimming up the stream.
Under the overpasses at 154, 154A, 155, and 157 streets, salmon can often be seen.
Within the depths of Elgin Heritage Park, spawning salmon can be seen just south of Crescent Road.
Take a trip to Hi-Knoll Park for a chance to see salmon spawning in the creek.
View salmon from the bridge over the creek near 34th avenue.
Little Campbell Estuary
Just off of 160th and 8th avenue is a bridge perfect for viewing salmon, or follow downstream to the estuary in Semiahmoo Bay.
For a full map of all the locations to see salmon in Surrey’s rivers and creeks, click here.
And be sure to be a good “salmon spawn watcher” by following these simple guidelines from Watershed Watch.
- Keep dogs on a leash – Dogs cause stress to fish and may crush eggs.
- Hands off learning – Explain to children the importance of staying out of the water.
- Love ’em from afar – Try using binoculars and keep your distance.
- Stay on the beaten path – Don’t trample vegetation.
- Minimize your impact – Some spots see hundreds or thousands of visitors per year.
- Get involved! – Find a local streamkeepers group.