Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wild Salmon

Kokanee Salmon

It’s fall in Tahoe, another beautiful time of the year all around the Lake as the trees light up with orange, yellow and red colors.  The trees are not the only things changing color though.  Look a little closer and you will find bright red Kokanee Salmon swimming up from the Tahoe area lakes into rivers and streams to spawn.

The month of October is the prime time to see these striking fish dart upstream to lay eggs.  The fish, both the male and the female, turn from a silver grey to bright red bodies with green heads as they begin to mate.  The male grows a large hooked beak and hump in the middle of their back making it look quite fierce.  In some areas you can see hundreds and in others, just a few. It is like watching tropical fish as you see these bright colors in the crystal clear waters fighting the river current to swim upstream.  They are in search of where they were born only 4-6 years earlier.  This is where they will lay their eggs and die shortly after.  This then creates plenty of food for bears and eagles.  So, as you admire the Salmon down in the river, be sure to look around to see what other wildlife might be close by.  

Taylor Creek, located on the South Shore of Lake Tahoe, is the primary spawning stream in the Tahoe Basin for the Kokanee Salmon.  This location has been set up to showcase this beautiful act in nature.  There are four self-guided trails.  You will want to start with the Rainbow Trail that features the Stream Profile Chamber.  This has been engineered into a diverted portion of the stream to provide an aquarium-like window of the creek profile.  Watch under the water as the salmon swim by.  Then back to the trail to venture along the creek, over bridges and through the golden landscape. 

Sagehen Creek just outside of Truckee is another great place to spot the Kokanee Salmon.  Totally different than the Taylor Creek location, this is a 2.5 mile hike out to the creek where the fish can be seen swimming out of Stampede Reservoir.  During this quiet time of year in the area, chances are that you could be the only one out there.  Enjoy the peace and take it all in as the salmon swim through the golden meadow upstream and perhaps you will also spot an eagle flying overhead.

Katie Tyler

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