Fall Fish Fest fun: U.S. Forest Service’s annual event returns to South Shore | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Fall Fish Fest fun: U.S. Forest Service’s annual event returns to South Shore

A child observes fish from Rainbow Trail's underground Stream Profile Chamber.
Courtesy / U.S. Forest Service |

Fall is the prime time to see Kokanee salmon spawn right here on the South Shore. On Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 1-2, the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit hosts its annual Fall Fish Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

“There are activities for all ages to learn about the variety of fish species that live in Lake Tahoe. We changed the name to Fall Fish Fest a couple years ago. We wanted it to be a little more inclusive, not just about Kokanee salmon, but also about other fish people might not be aware of,” U.S. Forest Service public affairs specialist Lisa Herron said.

These additional species of fish include the federally threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout and little-known smaller fish, such as the speckled dace. The U.S. Forest Service is currently working on reintroducing the Lahontan cutthroat back into the streams of Lake Tahoe.

“The [event] highlight is probably seeing the fish actually spawning — it’s quite a display. The salmon, when they’re in Lake Tahoe, they’re a blue color. When they spawn, they turn bright red — it’s a beautiful display. Typically there are hundreds, if not thousands, of fish,” Herron said.

Attendees will have the chance to learn about the various species of fish and their interactions with the ecosystem through an array of activities, including a treasure hunt and visits from festival mascots Lulu the Lahontan cutthroat trout and Sandy and Rocky Salmon. There will also be a special appearance from Smokey Bear. Vendors and additional activities will also be present.

If you’re of an active spirit, Tahoe Mountain Milers will host Kokanee Trail Runs, offering half marathon, 5k, 10k and trot options. Registration and fees apply. Learn more at http://www.tahoemtnmilers.org.

For those planning to attend, early arrival is recommended, as the Fish Fest takes place during the same time as Camp Richardson’s Oktoberfest and limited parking will fill quickly.

“It can get really busy out there. It probably is the single biggest event we have aside from Fourth of July. On those two [Fish Fest] days we’ve had as many as 12,000 people visit the center,” Herron said.

Public transportation and biking to the festival are encouraged. Event entry is free.

The Fall Fish Fest is held at Taylor Creek Visitor Center. Additional information is available by calling the center at 530-543-2674 or visiting the U.S. Forest Service website.