Salmon Run

Trip Start Jan 06, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , New York
Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday, September 28th

When we checked in at our last campground Jared asked about a good spot to go see the Salmon run.   The owners gave us directions to a site in Pulaski, NY and to where the Salmon Hatchery is located in Pulaski, NY.  We headed out from the campground and made our way towards Pulaski.  We were able to find a parking spot and hang out on a bridge with some other onlookers to see a good amount of fishermen up and down river.  We only saw one kid reel in a salmon and one guy have one on the line, but he wasn't able to reel it in before the line snapped.  However, we did see a bunch of salmon jumping in the river.  Unfortunately you never know when that is going to happen so I didn’t get any jumping on camera.  After checking out the fishermen for a while we decided to continue upstream to the hatchery.

We arrived at the Salmon River Fish Hatchery and headed inside to check out all the information they had on the salmon run.  After reading the information inside and seeing all the behind the scene rooms, we headed outside to see the fish ladder.  This is a "ladder" the salmon use to swim “upstream” into the hatchery so that the spawning can take place in a controlled environment.  It is more like steps up that the fish literally jump up to the next higher level.  When the hatchery opens the gates the fish are able to get into the holding ponds before they are “processed.” Processing consists of collecting the sperm/eggs from the fish.   The female fish are killed to remove their eggs (apparently the die after laying their eggs anyway), the sperm is collected from the male fish and then they are released in to the river again, the eggs are impregnated and then incubated.  When the young salmon reach a certain length they are released out in the river again for migration to Lake Ontario.  Apparently before the young salmon are released they are held in water from the area for imprinting purposes.  This causes the salmon to then return to the same area when it is time for spawning later in life. 

It was pretty cool to see all the salmon swimming up the ladder trying to get inside to the hatchery.  The doors to let them in weren’t open yet since they are not really ready for spawning until another week or so.  They had a green fence across the river that makes sure all of the salmon actually enter the hatchery instead of being able to swim upstream past the hatchery.  Some of the salmon were not fooled by the water coming out of the hatchery and were still trying to swim upstream into the fence blocking the way.  It is hard to see in the pictures but there were tons of salmon(and I mean tons) angled toward the fish ladder and the hatchery.  Only a few were past that opening trying to get upstream by jumping in to the green fence.  We had a good time watching them swimming and jumping up the ladder.  Apparently this replicates real life because the salmon are swimming upstream in the river and jumping up rock beds to move” forward”.  I decided it would be extremely tiring to be one of these salmon though.  If they stopped swimming for even a second the current of the river would push them back downstream.  So this is definitely a long uphill battle to get to their spawning locations. On our way out we asked a worker when they begin processing, and she said not until Columbus day at least.  Then she mentioned that all the Salmon we saw today were Coho, and the Chinook Salmon are still coming up.  When the Chinook get there they push the Coho out.  Apparently the Chinook is the salmon the hatchery actually wants, so that is why they weren’t “processing” the fish right now.

After finishing up at the hatchery we drove about 5 more miles down the road to the Salmon River Falls.  This is a 110 foot vertical drop in the river. We followed a short trail out to the falls so that we could get a good look.  It was pretty cool to see and we definitely got some gorgeous pictures.  Next we stopped at one more fishing location to try to see some more fishermen, but there weren’t any in the area we stopped at and we weren’t able to see any salmon jumping so we continued on our way for Cooperstown, NY.
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