Tahoe Forest Service Fall Fish Fest this weekend on South Shore
WHAT: 2015 Fall Fish Festival
WHEN: Saturday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
WHERE: Taylor Creek Visitor Center
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — What started as a fortuitous accident in the 1940s eventually became the U.S. Forest Service’s annual Fall Fish Festival. The family friendly event returns to Taylor Creek Visitor Center on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 3-4. It’s located three miles north of South Lake Tahoe on Highway 89.
“It’s a great way to go and celebrate fall with your family,” said Lisa Herron, Forest Service public affairs specialist for the Tahoe Basin.
With low water levels last year, the Forest Service reported that a number of Kokanee opted to spawn in the Upper Truckee River instead. Kokanee are a non-native species to Lake Tahoe. They were accidentally introduced in 1944 when hatchery holding ponds overflowed at the Tahoe City Fish Hatchery. Three years later, the salmon returned there to spawn. The hatchery then began stocking tributary streams with hatchlings in 1949. California Department of Fish and Wildlife now continues to plant fingerlings in Taylor Creek to maintain the population. Spawning season generally lasts up to six weeks.
Should the salmon spawning not coincide with this year’s festival, Herron said, there will still be plenty to do. With fall in full swing, Taylor Creek Visitor Center is a great place to view other wildlife, she explained. Bald eagle, osprey and other birds call the nearby marshlands home.
Put on by the Forest Service and the Tahoe Heritage Foundation, the event is an opportunity to learn about and celebrate the local fish population — and it typically coincides with Kokanee salmon spawning in Taylor Creek.
“It’s quite remarkable to see all the fish spawning. Usually there’s quite a number of them,” Herron said Monday, although she voiced concern about this year’s spawn due to drought. “As of last week they had not arrived. We’re hoping that during this next week — as we increase the water level — they’ll arrive in time for the festival.”
The event will include a number of children’s activities, food offerings and appearances by Smokey Bear, Lulu the Lahontan Cutthroat and Sandy the Rocky Salmon. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s giant inflatable salmon will also be on hand. The inside of the inflatable includes a number of child appropriate activity stations.
Fall Fish Festival runs each day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Tahoe Mountain Milers Running Club will also host their Kokanee Trail Runs in the area Sunday, Oct. 4. That event features a half marathon, 5K and 10K as well as a Tadpole Trot children’s run. Races start at 7 a.m. with pre-race registration at 6 a.m. at the Taylor Creek Sno Park.
U.S. Forest Service officials continue to urge extreme caution around bears preparing for hibernation. The salmon run at Taylor Creek is known to attract the animals during their fall feeding season. The agency is especially concerned with reports of visitors posing for selfie photos with bears in the background. The public is advised to keep a safe distance and never approach a bear. Taylor Creek Visitor Center staff have reported routinely encountering unsafe situations with guests ignoring posted warnings and getting too close to bears for photos and videos. The Forest Service has considered closing the visitor center in the interest of public safety if the problem persists.
With Oktoberfest also taking place at Camp Richardson over the weekend, the Forest Service is recommending alternate means of transportation; the parking lot at the visitor center will be busy.
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