Best Places to Watch Salmon Migrate Home This Fall

Discover an incredible phenomenon of nature across the Greater Toronto Area and Canada

Every fall, as the tree leaves change into colourful hues of red and yellow, an incredible sight to see in nature is to watch the journey of Salmon run (as they migrate home). 

People from all over the world gather to witness the incredible journey that Salmon makes each year. 

Millions of Salmon migrate from the ocean, swimming upstream through rivers, returning to their birthplace to spawn as part of the fish’s life cycle. 

Most salmon species migrate in the fall season, from September to November. 

Salmon swimming and jumping upstream rivers, migrating to its birthplace

Species of Salmon such as Chinook, Pink Salmon, Coho, Atlantic, and Pacific salmon can often be seen during their migration through creeks and rivers. 

The salmon sometimes would have to make daring jumps upstream on their journey to spawn on gravel beds in shallow waters before the winter season arrives. 

Most salmon species spend a majority of their early life in rivers or lakes before they swim out to seas or oceans, where they live their adult lives. When they have matured, they return to rivers once more to spawn (lay eggs). Often, salmon return to the rivers where they were born with uncanny accuracy, and even returning to the exact spawning ground of their birth. Scientists believe that when the fish are in the ocean, they use magnetoreception to find the general location of the river where they were born, and when they are near the river, they will use their sense of smell to find their natal spawning ground. 

The life cycle of a salmon begins and, if it survives its entire natural life, usually ends in a gravel bed in the upper reaches of a stream or river. These locations are known as the salmon spawning grounds where salmon eggs are laid. 

After 2 to 6 months, the eggs hatch into tiny fish fry.

As the salmon approach the time they are ready to migrate to the sea, they lose their camouflage and undergo a process of physiological change that allows them to survive the transition from freshwater to saltwater. 

After several years of wandering in the ocean, most of the salmon that survive, return to the same river where they were born. Most of them then swim upstream until they reach the very spawning grounds where they were originally born. 

The salmon would travel hundreds, or thousands of miles upstream, jumping high to navigate through strong currents, rapids, and other obstacles. 

They need full sexual development to ensure a successful spawn at the end of the journey. All of the fishes’ energy goes into the physical rigours of the journey and the dramatic morphological transformation they must still complete before they are ready for the spawning events ahead. 

Curious people from all over the world gather to cheer and observe the salmon as they jump over barriers in their journey swimming upstream. 

It is not just humans who are interested in the annual migration of salmon. Local bears, bald eagles, raccoons, or other wild animals also enjoy participating by hunting the fish trying to swim upstream to their spawning grounds. 

You don’t have to venture deep into the Canadian wilderness to see salmon migrating each year. You can witness the incredible phenomenon on the rivers of the country’s largest city, Toronto. 

The Humber River in Toronto is an interesting place to observe fish as they migrate from Lake Ontario. 

Born from a river, salmon goes out to the sea for the rest of their adult life, and then they cross hundreds or thousands of miles across the sea to return to their place of birth, to perform the miracle of life and fulfill their duties as fathers and mothers, to spawn and lay eggs. 

Each female salmon can lay up to 4,000 eggs before a majority of them weaken and die. 

The death of these salmon led to the birth of a new generation of fish. 

And so, the circle of life of the salmon continues once again. 

Leaving strong and profound impressions on those who witnessed the transformation of birth and death. 

Explore Salon Run in Toronto-The Last Journey of Salmon | Hành trình cuối cùng của cá hồi (Source: Culture Channel)

Here are the best places to witness the Salmon run across Canada and in the GTA

7 Best Places to See Migration in Canada

  • Adams River, British Columbia
  • Knight’s Inlet, British Columbia
  • Humber River, Toronto
  • Goldstream River, British Columbia
  • Exploits River, Newfoundland
  • Campbell, British Columbia
  • Highland Creek, Toronto


  • The Humber River in Étienne Brûlé Park- 13 Crosby Avenue
  • Highland Creek-Scarborough (390 Morningside Avenue, Toronto) & Glen Rouge Campground (7450 Kingston Road, Toronto)
  • The Rouge River in Glen Rouge Campground, 7450 Kingston Road, Scarborough
  • Charles Sauriol Conservation Area (1191 Lawrence Ave E)
  • The Don River in Charles Sauriol Conservation Area – 701 Don Mills Road
  • Highland Creek in Morningside Park – 390 Morningside Avenue, Scarborough


  • The Credit River in Erindale Park – 1695 Dundas Street West, Mississauga
  • Oakville – Bronte Creek Provincial Park


  • Hamilton – Red Hill Creek
  • Trails along Grindstone Creek (RBG Trails) and Spencer Creek at Dundas (Cootes Paradise Neighbourhood).


  • Duffins Creek in Whitevale Park – 371 Whitevale Road, Pickering
  • The Bowmanville Creek Fish Ladder – 35 Roenigk Drive, Bowmanville
  • Collingwood/The Blue Mountains – Silver Creek


  • Adams River, British Columbia
  • Knight’s Inlet, British Columbia
  • Goldstream River, British Columbia
  • Exploits River, Newfoundland
  • Campbell, British Columbia

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