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The Salmon Life Journey . . .
The Quesnel Lake Watershed has one of the largest Sockeye salmon runs in British Columbia. We are blessed to be able to bear witness every fall to this amazing journey.

Spawning Sockeye Salmon

In the fall, a female salmon lays from 2,500 to 8,000 eggs. While this may seem like a large number, only about one in every two to four thousand eggs hatches a salmon that will reach maturity and return to its spawning grounds from the ocean. The life journey of a salmon is a harsh one.

Once a fry is hatched, it can take as long as three years for the salmon (now called a smolt) to make it to the ocean. Depending on the species of salmon, the fish will spend from two to five years in the saltwater environment before it returns to its natal stream to spawn.

Salmon Spawning

The fish are able to find their way back to their home through a process called imprinting. As the fry are on their way to the ocean, they record (imprint) all the odors and smells of their river journey. When they return from the ocean, they, in a sense, rewind the smells like a movie to retrace their original route. The salmon become battered and exhausted as they fight their way home and, as a result, often become an easy meal for the ever-opportunistic bears.

Pacific salmon spawn in autumn in freshwater streams and lakes. The eggs are left under the gravel of the river or lake bottom for the winter and then hatch in the spring. Newly hatched salmon, called fry, slowly make their way to the ocean, which is where they do most of their growing. Their years growing in the open ocean are filled with many dangers and hazards, such as fishing nets, killer whales, seals and eagles.

After a few years in the ocean, the salmon are big enough to spawn, so they return to their birth river system. They are able to locate their birthplace by smell. Now they must face the challenges of waterfalls and awaiting bears as they fight their way to the spawning beds.

Grizzly eating salmon

Initially the bears catch some salmon before they spawn; but once spawned out, the dying salmon are easy prey. Bears have been observed swimming and fishing underwater. Bears often gather below waterfalls to catch salmon; the fish are forced to slow down as they try to jump the falls. Often a leaping salmon is grabbed by a bear and becomes part of its dinner. Sometimes the bear will carry this nourishing and rich meal into the forest to a safe place, away from larger bears who may want the food themselves. The remains of these rotting fish in the forest nourish the plants and insects. In streams the dead fish provide food for the new salmon fry.

Salmon Spawning Salmon Eagle

Elysia Resort & Lodge, on beautiful Quesnel Lake, is "highly "highly recommended" by Fodor's British Columbia and Canada Travel Guides and recipient of the 2008 & 2013 Williams Lake Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards for hospitality & tourism.

© 2018 Elysia Resort, Quesnel Lake, British Columbia, Canada
Fishing Lodge at Quesnel Lake in the Cariboo region of BC, Canada. Complete sportfishing adventures, romantic getaways and vacation packages. Nature based adventures and excursions, paddling, jet boating trips and river drifts on rivers, creeks and stillwaters.

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