KSL OUTDOORS SHOW

A chance to witness nature in Utah

Sep 6, 2023, 1:00 PM | Updated: 2:24 pm

Image of a Kokanee Salmon...

Each fall, living in and visiting Utah affords the opportunity to witness the life cycle of Kokanee Salmon. (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

(Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

SALT LAKE CITY — One of the reasons we love to live in Utah is our proximity to nature.

It’s a selling point for tourism all over the world with canyon access less than 30 minutes from Salt Lake International Airport. A half-hour’s drive to world-class skiing, quiet camping, hunting, and fishing. More importantly, a chance to witness nature at its finest even if you’re not an avid outdoorsman. One such opportunity happens each fall as the life cycle of Kokanee Salmon takes center stage.

It turns out that Fall color changes aren’t just for the leaves on the trees each September and October! As they near the end of their lives, usually within 3-5 years, the highly sought-after Kokanee Salmon head up rivers and streams adjacent to wherever they were planted.  This effort creates quite a show as the usual silver body and black head turn red and green. There are several things at play here. 

First, the bright color helps in attracting a mate with the males developing a quite noticeable hump on their backs. But in reality, as nature takes its course, the flesh of the Kokanee salmon is, in fact, dying. After the spawn, the salmon becomes food for other predators and supply nutrients to the broader ecosystem. A process that plays out year after year providing the next season’s schools for anxious anglers throughout the Beehive state!

Where to see Kokanee Salmon in Utah

Utah planted Kokanee throughout the state as the demand grew because of their fun fight at the other end of a hook. They are also a tasty addition to any planned meal after a successful day on the water. From Jordanelle reservoir and Provo River in Summit County to Electric Lake and its main tributary as it splits into Boulger Creek and upper Huntington Creek.  The largest population of Kokanee in northeastern Utah is in Flaming Gorge, where typically the best place to view the spawning fish is from the Highway 44 bridge over Sheep Creek.

If you’re interested in not just seeing the spectacle but also having the chance to ask questions of biologists in a controlled environment, mark September 16th on the calendar between 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. and head up to the Forest Service visitors center along Highway 40 at Strawberry Reservoir. Biologists will be on hand as the fish make their way through the fish trap stripping the eggs of the fish.

Fish Lake in Sevier County will also have an event on September 30th between 8 a.m.- 12 p.m. right on the boardwalk near the Fish Lake Lodge.

Visit the Division of Wildlife website, for a full list of locations and events.

One more note for anglers. You can’t keep any Kokanee Salmon caught anywhere in Utah from Sept. 10 to Nov. 30, during the spawning season. Visitors should also not disturb the spawning fish by wading into the water, trying to pick the fish up, or allowing their dogs to chase the fish. Violators could be cited.

Related reading:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

KSL Outdoors Show

The area features a high fence that provides perfect sheep habitat and lower predator densities...

Tim Hughes

Bighorn sheep nursery moves to new Utah home

The Division of Wildlife Resources needed a disease-free space for the bighorn sheep population to have a healthy "feeder herd."

2 months ago

Image of a Kokanee Salmon...

Tim Hughes

Kokanee salmon struggling in Utah as biologists look for solutions

Biologists have been concerned with the trend that has led to a 50% reduction in the number of fish and eggs taken this fall at the usual locations.

4 months ago

"Bucket biology" is taking one fish from its home pond or lake and transplanting it into another. D...

Tim Hughes

The dangers of being a “bucket biologist”

"Bucket biology" is taking one fish from its home pond or lake and transplanting it into another. Don't be a "bucket biologist."

6 months ago

Utah's Morning News anchor Tim Hughes relays the experience he had with his wife Becki, when, after...

Tim Hughes

Opinion: A relaxing vacation featuring baby turtles on the front lines of nature!

While vacationing recently, Utah's Morning News host Tim Hughes and his family had the chance to help baby turtles begin their long journey.

1 year ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

A chance to witness nature in Utah