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See salmon spawning in local rivers

October 19, 2010


Distinguished Instructor Awards

ROSEBURG – Salmon are spawning and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife encourages Oregonians to step outside and see this natural wonder.

Please observe spawning from a short distance without disturbing the fish or walking through spawning nests, called redds, in the river gravels. Viewing conditions can be limited following rainstorms, but water usually clears within a few days.

Salmon spawning provides an opportunity for unique photographs. First, look for redds where the gravel is scuffed up by fish. Also watch for dorsal fins breaking the surface. Make sure the sun is behind you, and use a polarizing filter if it’s a sunny day to help take away glare from the water’s surface. Overcast days may be best because there won’t be harsh shadows. If you can, face the fish to see their eyes for a more interesting photograph.

In many cases, people don't need to travel far from home to see spawning salmon. The following locations around southwestern Oregon all offer excellent viewing.

Rogue Valley area:

Fall chinook spawning occurs in the Rogue Valley from early October through early January. Peak viewing is now through November, and easy sites include:

  • Medford’s Bear Creek by the Rogue Valley Mall, near Hawthorne Park, and at other locations on the Bear Creek Greenway including Pine Street Bridge in Central Point.
  • Valley of the Rogue State Park along the Rogue River. The best time for viewing is now through mid-November. 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 fall chinook spawning peaks from late October through November.

Douglas County area:

Right now is peak spawning for fall chinook. Good viewing is along the South Umpqua River at the Roseburg Visitor's Center, Happy Valley Boat Ramp, Felt Field, Lower Cow Creek (Douglas County road 39) and at Sun Studs along Highway 99. Salmon can be seen on the Umpqua River at Myrtle Island/Tyee.

Coho salmon spawning in Douglas County peaks in late November through early December. The following spawning sites can be seen by walking along tributaries. Walking will be moderate to difficult. Viewing areas include:

  • South Umpqua River: 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: Little River and Rock Creek, both along Highway 138.
  • Umpqua River: Dean Creek, Scholfield Creek, Paradise Creek, Weatherly Creek, Brush Creek, Calapooya Creek, and Wolf Creek.
  • Smith River: West Fork Smith River, North and Sisters creeks, North Fork Smith River, and Spencer Creek on BLM lands.

Coastal area:

Fall chinook spawning in coastal rivers occurs now through mid-December, peaking in mid-November. The best viewing areas include:

  • Sites along the 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, a tributary of the East Fork Millicoma River, about six miles upriver from Allegany.
  • Tioga Creek which can be accessed from Middle Creek Road above Fairview.
  • LaVerne Park five miles above Fairview 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, about three miles downriver from Powers.

Coho salmon spawning is mid-November to early February. Spawning peaks in December in the Coos system and late December to early January in the Coquille. 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.
  • LaVerne Park.
  • East Fork of the Coquille River above the mouth of China Creek, about three miles upriver of Dora.
  • Steel Creek, a tributary of East Fork of the 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, tributary to the North Fork of the Coquille River 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.


High resolution photograph of an adult coho salmon migrating upriver to spawn is available on Flickr.

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



Coast – Michael Gray (541) 888-5515
Roseburg – Laura Jackson (541) 440-3353
Medford – Dan VanDyke (541) 826-8774

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