Salmon Day at the Hatchery, 11-04-19

I headed over to the Nimbus Fish Hatchery.  They were going to open the fish ladder this morning at 10:30, but I wanted to get there and see the salmon before the crowd came in – and I’m glad I did.

It was 46º when I got to the hatchery and there were only three other cars in the parking lot, so I could park wherever I wanted to.  There were two rangers on the weir, doing whatever it they had to do to get the gate open that would allow the salmon to climb the ladder.  You could see salmon in the river, their humped backs showing above the surface of the water as they swam and jumped. At the base of the ladder, where the gate was still closed, the salmon were milling around it, banging on the gate wanting to get up the ladder to spawn.

Each of these fish is about as long as my arm!

They’re such huge fish! Photos and video don’t really do them justice.

From the fish ladder I walked along the riverside trail, then went into the trout raceways, and around the visitor’s center.

CLICK HERE to see the complete album of photos.

Along the river, I could see both Common Goldeneye ducks and Barrow’s Goldeneyes, lots of Great Blue Herons, lots of different kinds of seagulls, and lots of Great Egrets.  There were several Great Egrets walking along the webbing that covers the raceways where the salmon and trout fry a fed and grow. And another Great Egret that was feeding at the out-spout from the raceways to the settling pond. He’d figured out just the right spot where he could grab tiny fish that escaped from the raceways. I saw him catch four of them while I was watching him. Sometimes, the gulls would dive bomb the egret trying to steal the fish from his mouth!

Inside the raceways, a Green Heron and a Black-Crowned Night Heron had found a way inside beyond the chain link and the mesh coverings. I guess that they wait until someone opens a door and then quick fly in before the door closes again.  Once they’re in there, there’s no easy way out, but they have unlimited food with the millions of tiny fish in the raceways.  So, they’re trapped, but they’re well fed. There were also some pigeons and some House Sparrows in there.

Green Heron, Butorides virescens

Near the visitor’s center, they’ve added some extra artwork and sculptures including a jungle gym that looks like salmon eggs, small sculptures of salmon fry, and two benches that are long salmon with mosaic work all along the sides.  The benches were really impressive.  Some of the other stuff looked a little hokey and out of place though, including some extra painted signs that looked like owls, coyotes, and mountain lions.

Yep. A salmon egg jungle gym.

I walked for about 2½ hours and headed home.

When I went to my car, I was surprised to see the entire parking lot full of cars and several buses arriving filled with school children.  They were all there for the opening of the fish ladder. I’d seen what I wanted to of the ladder and can always come back to see the salmon climbing it another time (they’re around until about February), so I was glad to escape the crowd. (To find out when they salmon are spawning and when the hatchery takes the eggs, see their Facebook page at: )

Species List:

  1. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  2. Autumn Sage, Salvia greggii
  3. Barrow’s Goldeneye, Bucephala islandica
  4. Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
  5. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  6. Black-Crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax
  7. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  8. Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Halyomorpha halys
  9. California Gull, Larus californicus
  10. Chinook Salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha
  11. Coffeeberry, California Buckthorn, Frangula californica
  12. Common Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
  13. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  14. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  15. Cumberland Rock-Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia cumberlandia
  16. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  17. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  18. Fig, Common Fig, Ficus carica
  19. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  20. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  21. Green Heron, Butorides virescens
  22. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  23. House Sparrow, Passer domesticus
  24. Japanese Maple, Acer palmatum
  25. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  26. Rainbow Trout, Steelhead, Oncorhynchus mykiss
  27. Ring-Billed Gull, Larus delawarensis
  28. Western Gull, Larus occidentalis