OUTSIDE OF ALASKA: While we know that salmon swim in several parts of the world, we can get attached to those places where the famous fish famously make a home. The Copper River springs to mind, and the Kenai River, and we make a vow to ourselves that we must -- must -- make it up to The Last Frontier to behold this magnificent swimmer. But salmon do flip their fins beyond Alaska, and right here in the Golden State, too. And depending upon where you are, and when you are, well, you might see some spawning action, the kind of experience you've only beheld on a nature channel. Yes, you're right, there's a tucked-down corner of Lake Tahoe that celebrates the Kokanee salmon each and every early October, but if you were busy swimming upstream in your own life -- aka too tied up with work and obligations -- and you didn't get to see this marvel, you have another chance to get salmon-fied, and not all that far from Tahoe. Well, let's amend that: You'll need to make for the beautiful South Yuba River, in northern Gold Country, which is about 90 minutes or so to the west of the big lake, near Nevada City. There's some stunning salmon-spawn action due in late October and early November, and the South Yuba River Citizens League is taking fish fans out onto the water, via rafts, to witness one of nature's awesome sights.
OCT. 31 AND NOV. 7: There are two salmon tours ahead for 2015, one on Halloween Saturday and one the following Saturday. The cost is seventy five bucks, which helps the league in all of its nature-protecting initiatives. And what will you see from your place in the raft? Possibly, if you're lucky, "awe-inspiring salmon jumping 2 feet out of the water, showing off their beautiful silvery coloration while many more dart around our rafts." That's a huge wowza, but even if the salmon are not in a leaping mood on your chosen day, you'll see them shimmer beneath the waves. The day isn't simply about admiring the salmon but learning about them, too, and the river, and various issues impacting the area. These beauties, by the by, are described as wild Chinook salmon, so even if you've communed with the Kokanee of Lake Tahoe, consider this day out as a new experience. And, of course, you'll be on the South Yuba, one of the truly great rivers. Well, let's not play favorites -- isn't every river worthy? Of course. Only a few, though, serve as the home to a legendary fish beloved for its autumntime spawn. Swim on, sweet Chinooks.