Utahns don’t have to drive all the way to the Pacific Northwest to see salmon turning bright red as they swim upstream to spawn.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is sponsoring Kokanee Salmon day Saturday, Sept. 16, at Strawberry Reservoir and Sheep Creek in the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area.
The Strawberry event will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the U.S. Forest Service visitor center just off U.S. 40, about 20 miles east of Heber City.
Employees and volunteers from the DWR, the U.S. Forest Service and Friends of Strawberry Valley will be on hand. Visitors will see the bright red spawning salmon on the Strawberry River next to the visitor center. Biologists will be able to answer questions about the fascinating life cycle of the fish.
“Kokanee are easily visible in the river at the visitor center,” said 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.”
You don’t have to attend the event to see the spawning fish, which can be viewed for a few weeks in the Strawberry River or tributaries.
The festivities are similar at Sheep Creek at Flaming Gorge. That event, which drew close to 400 people last year, runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sheep Creek is about 6 miles south of Manila and the viewing area is near Utah Highway 44 and the campgrounds along Sheep Creek. Just look for the signs.
Conservation outreach manager Tonya Kieffer encouraged visitors to that site to bring binoculars to view bighorn sheep. The Flaming Gorge area also offers a drive along the Sheep Creek Geological Route.
Kokanee salmon are a completely freshwater species that end their lives by spawning to a stream, usually the one where they were hatched.
More information on the events also available at wildlife.utah.gov.