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Spawning of salmon-like fish in Gauja National Park

The “central artery” of Gauja National Park is the River Gauja with many tributaries.

Many of these are rapid and swift, with clean, unpolluted water enriched with water coming from many springs, and therefore they are suitable for spawning of salmon-like fish — the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), brown trout (Salmo trutta), and stream trout (Salmo trutta fario). After a longer trip, the salmon-like fish travel in autumn to their birth places, and thus this is the time best suitable not only to watch the fish, but also enjoy what is happening on the riverside. A salmon watcher is a sort of a ranger, who has come to study the natural environment and create a positive effect from the presence of a human being.

Best time to go

Late October, beginning of November.

Route

We recommend picking one or two of the listed places, and create your own sequence.

Distance

The places to watch salmon-like fish are mostly individual sites except for the River Strīķupe (Vaidava), where a section of several kilometres can be covered. If you travel by car, you can get to several sites during one trip, since each place might result in different success level in watching the fish.

Difficulty level

Easy.

Worth knowing!

Follow the news of Nature Preservation Agency (www.daba.gov.lv), since environmental guides from this authority tend to organise salmon watching events! The activity is at one’s own risk. Emergency services: 112.

 

Migration of salmon and brown trouts

Migration of salmon-like fish to their spawning places commences in late October and continues until November. One of the factors affecting the successful migration is the water temperature, which has to be around 2–6 degrees.


Best places to watch fish

The success of spotting salmon-like fish depends on the water table in rivers, the clarity of water, and weather conditions. If there was heavy rain prior to or during the migration, the water in Gauja and its tributaries will be mixed up with sand and loam particles which will make it dark and non-transparent. It will be hard to see the fish in such case. Other more suitable places might be an option — natural or man-made obstacles: rapids, waterfalls, low dams, or fish ladder, which the salmon-like fish have to pass by jumping over these!

1. Bridge over the River Gauja in Sigulda

A site easy to access — approximately 2 km from the centre of Sigulda. A popular place to watch salmon. However, the high bridge clearance might affect spotting the fish very good, but this can be compensated with a 8 x 30 or 10 ×  50 binocular.

2. Pedestrian bridge over the River Gauja in Sigulda

The walk to the bridge (2 km from Kaķīši in Sigulda) can be combined with a walk along the banks of the primeval valley of the River Gauja. The river is shallow at the bridge, therefore its sandy bed is well visible on sunny days.

3. Trail aimed at watching fish spawning in Līgatne

Established in 2011 with the support of the European Fisheries Fund in the centre of Līgatne, between Ānfabrika Cliffs and Lustūzis (opposite of Līgatne Tourism Information Centre); around 500 m long. Fish ladder is constructed at the former mill dam in Līgatne.

4. Kārļi Dam

On the River Amata. Fish ladder is established next to it. The dam can be reached by road leading from Kārļi or Ieriķi, or on foot along the Amata trail.

5. Nature trail of the River Ieriķupīte

The small River Grūba (Ieriķupīte, Melderupīte) flows into a deep ravine behind the road A2, where on a short section of the river four waterfalls are located — 2.3 m, 0.5 m, 1.7 m, and 0.8 m high, which consist of dolomite rock outcrops from Pļaviņas suite. There are plank-ways, small bridges, and viewing platforms on the banks of the river. The total length of the trail is roughly 500 m, which suits families with children. End of October–early November offers breath-taking sights when the migrating salmons try overcoming obstacles! In winter 2013, an illuminated park was opened, with lights illuminating the trail and its nearby vicinity in the autumn and winter evenings.

6. River Strīķupīte

Around 3 km long section of the river between Jenči–Jāņmuiža road and the mouth of the River Strīķupīte with the River Gauja. Beautiful coniferous forests cover the riverside of the rapid and curvy river, and combined with the forest road it is ideal for walks, picking mushrooms, and watching salmon-like fish during their migration period.

7. Bridge over the River Gauja in Cēsis

3.5 km off the centre of Cēsis.

8. Bridge over the River Gauja in Rāmnieki

Easy accessible from Cēsis. The river is shallow in this place and fish might be clearly spotted under suitable circumstances.

9. River Vaive

The best places to watch salmons are downstream — in the section where the river mouths the River Rauna till Vaive Mill Dam. In this section, the River Vaive flows through a 2 km wide primeval valley with a maximum depth of 60 m. There are some scenic sandstone outcrops on the river as well.

10. Bridge over the River Gauja in Valmiera

Located in the centre of the city (Cēsu iela), near Vidzeme University College. Suitable place to watch salmon-like fish migration, since the river is shallow on both sides of the bridge and the sandy riverbed is seen (provided it has not rained heavily) from above.

 

Salmon migration can be watched also from the banks of the River Amata and its tributaries, as well as other small rivers — Raunis, Rauna, Jumara; rules of private property and Gauja National Park shall be observed.


Dress code and tools:

  • suitable clothes for various weather conditions;
  • if you will walk along the small rivers — suitable trekking footwear or rubber boots;
  • binocular (to watch the fish from bridges);
  • photo camera;
  • phone to call a ranger should you see anything illegal.

Eco-friendly watching of salmon

  • Salmons shall be watched from a distance that does not affect their natural processes.
  • To take photos of the fish, zooming function shall be used.
  • The more nature watchers on the riverside during autumn, the less opportunities for bad people violating the law. This means your presence on the riverside contributes to preservation of our nature values.

 

 



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