Kokanee salmon are heeding nature’s call | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Kokanee salmon are heeding nature’s call

Adam Jensen

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Thousands of bright red kokanee salmon clamored to get up Taylor Creek on Thursday afternoon, part of an annual spawning ritual expected to have a high turnout this year.

“The kokanee, landlocked cousins of the seagoing sockeye salmon, were introduced to Lake Tahoe in 1944 by biologists working on the lake’s North Shore,” according to the U.S. Forest Service. “These predecessors of today’s inhabitants quickly adapted to the alpine environment, joining brown trout, rainbow trout and mackinaw among the most prominent game fish in Lake Tahoe.”

Although Lake Tahoe’s kokanee run doesn’t typically peak until mid-October, the salmon have been off to a promising start, according to Forest Service staff.

Initial numbers indicate between 40,000 and 50,000 fish may make the journey upstream this year, said Taylor Creek Visitor Center Director Mike St. Michel.

“Each autumn, nature calls mature kokanee to return to the streams from which they were hatched, select a mate, spawn and die,” according to the Forest Service. “As that time approaches, adult males develop a humped back and a heavy, hooked jaw, equipping them for the inevitable battles over both mates and territory, and both sexes turn from their usual silver/blue color to a brilliant red.”

The early influx of fish is well-timed with the 19th annual Kokanee Salmon Festival scheduled this weekend.

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“Back this year will be the Salmon Feed, half-marathon, 5k, 10k, a children’s run, children’s activities, educational programs and booths, and streamside programs,” a statement from the Forest Service said.

Although meteorologists have indicated that the weather may take a turn for the worse over the weekend, festival activities will be going on rain or shine, St. Michel said.

For more information on the Kokanee Salmon Festival, call the Lake Tahoe Visitor Center at Taylor Creek at (530) 543-2674.

For more information about Kokanee Trail Runs, call (530) 545-0045.

Also in the Taylor Creek area this weekend is the 14th annual Oktoberfest at Camp Richardson. The event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

For more information on Oktoberfest, call (530) 541-1801.

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