HomeSalmonUtah – SEE RED SPAWNING KOKANEE SALMON

Sept. 16 is Kokanee Salmon Viewing Day at Strawberry & Sheep Creek.

Strawberry Reservoir

HEBER CITY — You can see hundreds of bright red salmon — and possibly other wildlife, too — at the annual Kokanee Salmon Viewing Day.

Spawning kokanee salmon at Strawberry

The event will be held Sept. 16 at the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) visitor center at Strawberry Reservoir. The visitor center is along U.S. Highway 40, about 20 miles southeast of Heber City.

The event is free. It runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Division of Wildlife Resources, the USFS and Friends of Strawberry Valley host the viewing event every September amid the valley’s beauty and its changing fall colors.

Seeing the salmon

When you attend the event on Sept. 16, you’ll see some salmon in the Strawberry River next to the visitor center. But, if you walk to the fish trap and egg-taking facility behind the visitor center, you’ll see hundreds of the bright red fish.

DWR biologists will be available at the facility to show you the salmon and talk with you about the peculiar life cycle of the fish.

The event will be held Sept. 16 at the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) visitor center at Strawberry Reservoir The visitor center is along U.S. Highway 40, about 20 miles southeast of Heber City.

Get close to bright red kokanee salmon at this year’s viewing event.

“Kokanee are easily visible in the river at the visitor center,” says Scott Root, regional conservation outreach manager for the DWR. “Once you arrive at the fish trap, you can ask questions about the salmon. If you want, you can even touch one.”

Root says the fall colors should make your drive to the reservoir really enjoyable. “In addition to the salmon,” he says, “there’s a good chance you’ll see other wildlife too. Kokanee Salmon Viewing Day is a great family event.”

If you can’t attend the Sept. 16 event, Root says salmon should be visible in the Strawberry River, and other tributaries to Strawberry, from now until the first part of October.

For more information about the event, call the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest at 435-654-0470 or Root at 801-491-5656.

Whether you’re a visitor to the area, or a local who has attended for years, if you visit Sheep Creek to see kokanee salmon on Sept. 16, pack a lunch so you can spend the day enjoying everything the area has to offer.

Sheep Creek in Daggett County

MANILA — Whether you’re a visitor to the area, or a local who has attended for years, if you visit Sheep Creek to see kokanee salmon on Sept. 16, pack a lunch so you can spend the day enjoying everything the area has to offer.

Watching spawning kokanee salmon at Sheep Creek

The Division of Wildlife Resource’s annual Kokanee Salmon Day will be held at Sheep Creek on Sept. 16, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Last year, more than 400 people attended,” says Tonya Kieffer, regional conservation outreach manager for the DWR. “We’re hoping even more people will attend this year to watch nature paint Sheep Creek red.”

The event is free, and the viewing site is easy to get to. Sheep Creek is about six miles south of Manila. Kieffer is still determining the specific viewing site, but it will either be at the Scenic Byway turnout where Sheep Creek crosses under state Route 44, or near the campgrounds located along Sheep Creek. “Just watch for signs that we’ll post along SR 44,” she says. “You’ll be able to see the signs, no matter which direction on SR 44 you’re traveling.

“We’re hoping to see really good numbers of kokanee in their bright red spawning colors,” she says. “Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, wild turkeys, sandhill cranes, red-tailed hawks, song birds, squirrels and a variety of other wildlife have greeted those who have attended the event in the past. If you have a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope, make sure to bring it with you.”

Kieffer looks forward to the kokanee salmon spawning run every year. “The run is a great symbol of the changing seasons and an indication that autumn is here,” she says.

Kieffer says the colorful, landlocked salmon spawn in several Utah streams in September and October after spending about four years maturing in reservoirs downstream from where they spawn. “One of the most scenic kokanee runs takes place in Sheep Creek,” she says, “which is a tributary to Flaming Gorge Reservoir.”

DWR outreach staff and biologists will be at the site between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Display materials will be on hand that will help you see the kokanee and interpret their behavior. The biologists will also have a spotting scope available in case bighorn sheep visit the area, which they usually do during Kokanee Salmon Day.

Bright red spawning kokanee salmon at Sheep Creek

“This is also a great time to take a scenic drive along the Sheep Creek Geological Loop,” Kieffer says, “in search of changing fall colors and other wildlife.”

Salmon in Utah

Utah’s salmon populations are a completely freshwater species known as kokanee salmon. They follow a lifecycle that’s similar to other salmon with one exception: instead of migrating from the Pacific Ocean to freshwater streams, kokanee reach freshwater streams by migrating to the streams from freshwater lakes and reservoirs.

While kokanee spawning runs are an excellent opportunity to discover Utah’s wildlife, please watch the salmon from the bank of Sheep Creek. As you approach the bank, move quietly to avoid disturbing the fish. Studies have documented that the kokanee are sensitive to disturbances on the bank.

Also, don’t wade in the stream. Wading in the stream can disrupt the spawning run, destroy the redds (egg nests) and cover the eggs with silt.

To further protect kokanee during their spawning season, anglers are reminded that they may not possess kokanee salmon in Utah from Sept. 10 through Nov. 30.

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