Life And Death On The Siuslaw River: Spawning Season For The Chinook Salmon

Nov 22, 2017

Nature buffs take note: the Chinook salmon spawning season is winding down. As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, there’s still time to observe the fish’s reproductive cycle in rivers across Oregon.

Credit Josh Larios /

The females dig out nests – called “redds” -- for their eggs, then wait for the right male to come along and fertilize them.  And both eventually die after the process. 

Kelly Reis, fish biologist for the Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife at an overlook across the Siuslaw River near Walton, OR.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

Kelly Reis is a biologist for the Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife Department’s Springfield office.  She and other volunteers have been taking groups – including Boy Scout troops– to areas like Whittaker Creek…a tributary of the Siuslaw River near Walton.

“I think it was exciting for them to actually see the fish do the digging, and actually kind of in their native environment," says Reis.   

"I wanted them to come away with some lessons about salmon, and specifically salmon die after they spawn, the value of those carcasses to the forest, to the juvenile salmon, to the stream itself.” 

A Chinook salmon carcass along the banks of the Siuslaw River.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

Reis says it’s all part of a grant-funded program called Salmon Watch.  She says people can check in with their local Fish and Wildlife department to learn of future viewing opportunities for their schools or families. 

Otherwise, you can look for the chinook in deep river beds with strong currents.

WEB EXTRA: See video of several Chinook salmon in the fast current of the Siuslaw River, who've gathered for spawning.  

Copyright 2017, KLCC.