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Where to watch the Fraser River sockeye salmon return

If you're hoping to watch the sockeye salmon jumping as they swim up the Fraser River, you'll want to make some time to head to the water's edge this week.

Catch a glimpse of the sockeye salmon this week as the fish continue heading upstream to spawn

Only three of 20 seats on a national aquaculture committee will go to environmental groups, and that has those who work to protect wild salmon, shown here migrating up B.C.'s Scotch Creek to spawn, concerned. (Matt Casselman)

If you're hoping to watch the sockeye salmon jumping as they swim up the Fraser River, you'll want to make some time to head to the water's edge this week.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada says there could be as many as 23 million sockeye returning to spawn this year, after three years out in the open water.

To find out the best places to spot the salmon run along the Fraser and beyond, CBC Radio One's On the Coast spoke with Rod Clapton, president of the B.C. Federation of Drift Fishers.

He's been out on the water catching sockeye as a recreational fisherman, and he had a few recommendations for places to go to spot the run from land:

1) The Steveston docks and Garry Point Park, Richmond

These spots are at the mouth of the Fraser River, and you may see more salmon jumping because they're fresh off the ocean and still very active.

2) Ladner Harbour Park, Ladner

Head to the banks of the Fraser and you should see fish jumping. Clapton said on Friday that he'd heard reports that fish were leaping all over the place in this area. 

3) Westminster Quay, New Westminster

You may have to be patient if you salmon-spot from New Westminster. Keep in mind they go through in schools, so there may be nothing for an hour or so at a time, Clapton said.

"Then you'll see fish breaking water, which is demonstrating you've got another school passing by on their voyage up to the Adams River," he said. ​

4) Island 22 Regional Park, Chilliwack

Go to the boat launch at the park: "It really gives you an indication of just how huge the recreational fishery is," Clapton said.

5) Peg Leg Bar, Chilliwack

Head to the boat launch at the north end of Young Road or continue to the gravel bar at the end of McSween Road, where you should spot some fish and should also get a chance to watch the people fishing for them.

6) Adams River at Shuswap Lake

Fish should be jumping until the end of the month, said Clapton. If you miss the salmon in the Lower Mainland over the next week or two, you can always head out to the Adams River at Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park.

As they enter the river the salmon are silver-white and as they get to the Adams River, watch for the fish to turn red — that means they're ready to spawn.

Do you have a favourite salmon run watching spot? Tell us about in the comments below


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