Spawning Salmon at Williwaw Creek

The Chugach National Forest campground we stayed in called Williwaw—the one that’s right on the Trail of Blue Ice and other trails with access to several glaciers—is also right on Williwaw creek, an unusually clear creek running from the glaciers far above.

The Blue Ice trail runs alongside it for part of its five miles, and you can simply step off the trail (and over the bear skat) to peek in the creek for salmon.

When we were there (early August), the sockeye were spawning and were fascinating to watch.

Single silver-tipped ones that hadn’t turned red yet would be flopping in shallow water, turning on their sides to make indentations in the creek bed so they could lay their eggs in them. As they spawn they turn pink and orange and striped and bright red and they congregate together.

I think they make for best fishing right before they spawn, since they’re gathered together but they haven’t spent absolutely all their energy yet. After they spawn they’ve lost so much fat they’re not good to eat.

That must be why bears and sea mammals eat the row first and sometimes leave the entire rest of the fish on the bank.

This creek was prime viewing for us because there weren’t so many that they attracted bears, but we could still watch them, and of course they were more visible in person than here, where I was trying to deal with glare on the water surface and branches in the way and a weird angle down to the stream. I’m glad I got these shots though!