By Christy Milan

Wildly beating the water, the salmon splash and whip their tails to and fro as they struggle to gain momentum on their journey upstream to spawn. This is the time of the salmon run when the fish migrate from the ocean and work their way upstream to where they were born. They will also spawn and begin a new life cycle on a gravel bed. These salmon will then mature and make their way to the Pacific Ocean only to return and spawn, thus starting over the cycle of life for salmon.

Over the winter the North State was drenched with much needed rain and snow. At times this was a little tiresome however I believe most of us were glad to see our lakes fill up and our mountains covered with snow. The rivers and streams are flowing and the water is refreshing to the body, mind and soul. Not only are we grateful for the amount of water, the salmon that will be spawning this year will surely appreciate our wet season.

Playing an important part of this role is Coleman National Fish Hatchery, just east of the town of Cottonwood and Anderson. Beginning in 1942, the hatchery was established under an act of U.S. Congress. The Historic spawning habitat was in danger due to the construction of Shasta and Keswick dams. The hatchery sits by Battle Creek and is about 6 miles from the Sacramento River. It is owned by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Services and is approximately 75 acres. Coleman Fish Hatchery is the largest salmon hatchery located in the United States. Chinook and Steelhead trout are the primary species produced by the hatchery. The Chinook Salmon are endangered species in some parts including California, Oregon and Washington. Chinooks are the largest of the salmon and are often referred to as king salmon. The adults are often over 40 pounds and can be as much as 120 pounds! When they swim upstream their colors change. The colors vary depending on where they are and how mature they have become. Colors such as red, copper, dark brown or almost black can be seen as the salmon thrash upstream.

This year, the Return of the Salmon Festival will be celebrating 25 years. It will be held on Saturday, October 21, 2017 from 9-4. They will also be celebrating the 75th anniversary of Coleman National Fish Hatchery. The celebration is free and has booths featuring recreational displays, wildlife art and sporting equipment.  Natural resource information can be found at many of the booths. The University Prep School will provide food. Other activities include child fingerprinting, a blood drive with Shasta Blood Center, childrens activities, fish tagging and a delicious salmon bake. Of course salmon spawning operations will be included in the celebration. Visitors can watch as salmon fight their way up Battle Creek to spawn. During the festival all aspects of the hatchery operation are presented to give the visitor the ultimate experience in hatchery operations. This one day festival brings visitors by the thousands to enjoy nature and what it has to offer. Free shuttle buses from Anderson Wal-Mart to Coleman Fish Hatchery are also available.

Another benefit to the area is the Battle Creek Salmon Trail. It is a great way to see wildlife. This trail is in the Battle Creek Wildlife area which covers 582 acres. The trail from the hatchery to the Wildlife area is two miles, one way. You can arrange a shuttle to bring you back to the hatchery or keep on hiking the trail. The area has riparian forests, oak woodlands and marshes. Along the trail you may spot Bald Eagles, beaver, ducks, bobcats or coyotes. The trail provides a beautiful view of the creek and meadows with lush grasses, wildflowers, and glimpses of the animals that live here. Interpretive signs are displayed throughout and identify the plants and animals. Bring a camera and sturdy walking shoes to enjoy what the region has to offer. There is nothing like the feeling of observing nature and relishing in the peace and beauty that nature brings.

Coleman Fish Hatchery

The hatchery is open for self guided tours daily from 7:30 a.m. to dusk

Battle Creek Trail

Trail 2 miles one way, between Hatchery and Battle Creek Wildlife Area

Salmon Festival October 21, 2017

25th Annual Salmon Festival, 75th Anniversary Coleman Fish Hatchery

October 21, 2017

Admission: Free

Times: 9am – 4pm

For more information contact Coleman National Fish Hatchery

24411 Coleman Fish Hatchery Road

Anderson, California 96007

Phone: (530) 365-8622