Kamloops Trip: Adams River Salmon Run

This year is what is known as a dominant-year of the salmon spawning run in the Adams River. During the dominant-year, there are substantial returns of Salmon to their spawning grounds which runs into millions. The dominant-year happens every four years (2002, 2006, 2010 …) occurring in October. Every year, the Salute to the Salmon Festival runs for about 3 weeks.

We stayed in Kamloops overnight. Kamloops is the largest town near Adams River. The first stop when we got there was the Visitor Centre, where we picked up the brochures and information about Adams River and Kamloops. Outside the Visitor Centre was a sculpture of the Sockeye Salmon.


The Adams River salmon consists primarily of the Sockeye species. When we got there, we see a lot of birds feasting on the dead salmon. You see, Salmon are born in fresh water, migrates to the sea and after four years, they return to the very same stream to spawn and die.


The Adams River Salmon Run is best viewed from the Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park. This park is created to preserve this world famous salmon run. There were a lot of trails running along the streams, ideal for viewing the salmon from a near distance.


We went early to the park and already the crowd was beginning to build. Almost everyone is armed with a camera.


Although this is a dominant run year, the number of salmon returning was quite disappointing. The numbers were great but they were no near the anticipated numbers. Researchers cited the reasons being the river water temperature this year were higher and water level lower resulting in fewer salmon surviving the journey. We are concerned about the changing climate around us … this could be a sign that over years, the salmon will never return to the abundant levels it used to have.

We have seen photos of dominant run years where people are virtually walking on a sea of salmon.


By the time the salmon returns to the spawning grounds, their body have changed to a red body with a green hooked head. They are at the last moments of their life. They will pair up female and male. The female will lay up to 4000 eggs and the male will shower the eggs with milt and then cover up the eggs with gravel.

The salmon at this stage cannot be eaten.


They then will just die. Needless to say, the whole place smells of rotting fish. No one seems to mind.

The life cycle starts all over again. In spring the following year, the salmon will hatch and begin their migration to the sea.


There Salmon Festival was well organized. There were a lot of information and demonstration. Below is the roe from the female salmon.


It is a pretty amazing event to witness and great to bring kids to.

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  1. David

    I would love to see this.

  2. Chubbypanda

    Great trip! It’s a real shame about the salmon levels. Did you read that report recently which claimed wild fish stocks will be completely depleted in 15 years?

    – Chubbypanda

  3. sue

    Wow, looking at your pictures and reading your post made me as if I was watching a TV documentary. 🙂
    I really love salmon though this is the first time seeing actual picture of it.

    And it is a real shame that number of fish is decreasing. It is so sad.

  4. Ben

    Hi Chubbypanda: At the rate the global climate is changing and over fishing, I would not be surprised that wild fish salmon could be depleted in our generation. When we travel all around BC, we could see reminders of how things have changed over the past 100 years. Sad to see that happening.

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