Little Campbell River Fish Hatchery
Location and History
The Little Campbell River Fish Hatchery is part of the Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club, and is located at 1284 184th Street in Surrey, B.C.
The Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club was incorporated in 1957 with the main purpose of restoring the Little Campbell River which had been severely damaged by years of unregulated gravel removal in the watershed. For the next 23 years, club volunteers not only worked to restore the river and its tributaries but also raised funds to acquire land on the river.
In 1979 the ideal piece of land on the banks of the Little Campbell River became available, and it was purchased with the financial support of club members (four members mortgaged their homes and several others floated demand loans). The hatchery was constructed in 1983.
There are several kilometers of nature trails on the property and a wide range of wildlife that make the property their home.
The Little Campbell River Hatchery
The facility includes the hatchery building and outdoor ponds for raising salmon and trout fry to the smolt stage. All water used in maintain the fish stock is drawn from a deep well located on the west side of the property. Prior to entering the hatchery, the water is passed through an extensive filtration and aeration process in the two story building adjacent to the hatchery.
A steel fence has been installed across the river immediately in front of the hatchery. This fence directs all spawning salmon and trout to a trap where club members count and identify them by species prior to releasing them upstream to spawn. Some wild coho and chinook salmon and steelhead trout are retained as breed stock. In an average year about 3500 returning salmon are counted at the fence.
In a typical year the hatchery raises the following number of salmonids:
10,000 Steelhead trout
50,000 Chinook salmon
50,000 Coho salmon
The hatchery complex is open to the public. Access to the hatchery building itself is also possible, provided club volunteers are on site. Since it was built the hatchery has been a very popular place to visit for a large number of residents from the White Rock, Surrey and Langley area.
Salmon in the Classroom Program
On completion of the hatchery in 1983, the Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club introduced the “Salmon in the Classroom” program. Under this initiative fertilized coho salmon eggs from the hatchery are hatched and raised in the classroom by elementary students. Once the salmon reach the “fry” stage the students return them to the hatchery where they release them into the river. The visit includes instruction on the life cycle of the salmon, as well as a guided tour of the hatchery and the nature trail. Since the program was introduced over 100,000 students, teachers and parents from schools in Richmond, Delta, White Rock, Surrey and Langley have participated. The majority of these tours take place in March and April.
The 30 acre property forms a portion of the wider Little Campbell River Forest and is a unique gem amidst the farmland of the Hazelmere Valley. Though logged in the early 1890s, the forest is now a rich second growth succession forest inhabited by an abundance of wild flora and fauna. As the forest changes with the seasons, it holds fascinating insights into the ecology of the river.
The lower forest trail loop is 650 meters in length. It is an easy, level walk and is wheelchair accessible. There are a number of locations along this trail where salmon can be seen spawning during the fall.
Beaver, mink, river otter, muskrat and deer have been observed along the trail. Eagles, red tailed hawks, owls and a large number of smaller birds attract many bird watchers to the trail.
Most school tours are made as part of the Salmon in the Classroom Program and occur in March and April, when a key part of the tour is when the students line up along the river bank to release their coho fry and wish them well on their journey. However there’s lots going on at the hatchery during other months of the school year:
October and November: this is when the chinook, coho and chum salmon return to spawn in the river. Salmon can be seen in the trap at the steel fence, and hundreds will be spawning in the river beside the nature trail.
February and March: this is when the steelhead trout return to spawn in the river. They can be seen in the trap or along the banks of the river. Inside the hatchery building the salmon eggs have hatched and are at the fry stage. They can be seen in the indoor rearing tanks. The outdoor pond will contain about 40,000 coho fry. Along the nature trail the beaver, mink, river otter, muskrat and deer are becoming more active and the migratory birds are returning to nest. This is an excellent time to walk the nature trail, as the relative lack of foliage allows more to be seen.
April, May and June: The coho fry in the outdoor pond are reaching the smolt stage, and some will be anxious to begin their downstream migration to the ocean. One of the volunteers will remove the barrier at the outlet of the pond and some of the more mature smolts will begin their migration. Gradually during May and June the remaining smolts will leave for the ocean. Wild coho fry can be seen in the river in shaded spots along the bank. Many of the local ducks and geese will be walking along the trails or swimming in the river or ponds with their baby ducklings or goslings.
How to Book a Tour
Tours can be booked through Derek Cherry at email@example.com
The price for a tour is $100 per group. Please make cheques payable to “Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club” and provide the cheque to the tour guide before the start of the tour. Receipts are available upon request.
All staff at the hatchery are unpaid volunteers. A tour typically involves one tour guide plus several other volunteers to open the fish trap and to assist with the release of the fry. The $100 tour fee is a nominal charge and goes entirely to fund maintenance and new projects -- donations are welcomed and greatly appreciated.
A normal tour group consists of one school class, and consists typically of 20 to 24 students plus the teacher and some parents. The hatchery presentation room is sized to comfortably handle a group of this size although the teacher and parents may need to stand at the back.
Please try to keep the tour group as small as possible. On the nature trail large groups frighten the wildlife. They also become strung out along the trail, such that the students at the back have difficulty hearing and interacting with the tour guide and may not see anything worthwhile.
We strongly recommend that a group size of 20 to 24 students not be exceeded – remember in a dog team it’s only the lead dog that gets a change of scenery – let’s make this the best possible experience for the students.
A Typical Tour
A typical tour consists of one hour in the hatchery building followed by a one hour walk on the nature trail. We usually plan for two groups in the morning (starting at about 9:30 am) and two in the afternoon (starting at about 12:30 pm).
One group will begin in the hatchery building. The tour guide will provide a presentation describing the hatchery and salmon life cycle, then will show the students the salmon and trout fry in the indoor tanks. They will then walk to the steel fence at the river and check the trap for salmon or steelhead trout (depending on the season) and inspect the coho fry in the outdoor pond. After this they will walk to the covered picnic area to do the fry release (again depending on the season) in the river nearby. After releasing their fry the students will begin a one hour walk along the nature trail, returning to the covered picnic area for lunch.
The second group will begin at the covered picnic area for the fry release and then do a one hour walk on the nature trail, returning for a presentation and tour inside the hatchery building.
The covered picnic area is a great spot to drop off packs before the tour, and to have lunch when the tour is completed.
School tours take place from March and
throughout the school year.