See Kokanee Salmon at Sheep Creek

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You can see kokanee salmon in Sheep Creek during this year's Kokanee Salmon Day.

DWR Press Release

Kokanee Salmon Day set for Sept. 10

Manila — If you visit Sheep Creek to see kokanee salmon on Sept. 10, make sure and bring binoculars or a spotting scope with you. You might see some bighorn sheep too.

The Division of Wildlife Resource’s annual Kokanee Salmon Day will be held Sept. 10, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event is free, and the viewing site is easy to get to. Sheep Creek is about six miles south of Manila. The viewing site will be determined but will either be at the Scenic Byway turnout where Sheep Creek crosses under Route 44, or across the road where the geological loop starts. Just look for the signs that will be posted on the highway.

“The viewing event is a little earlier this year than most years,” says Tonya Kieffer, regional conservation outreach manager for the DWR, “but we’re hoping to see really good numbers of kokanee in their bright red, spawning colors. In addition to the salmon, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, wild turkeys, sandhill cranes, red-tailed hawks, song birds, squirrels and a variety of other wildlife have greeted visitors in the past.”

Kieffer says she’s looking forward to the kokanee migration.

“It’s a great symbol of the changing seasons and an indication that autumn is here,” she says. “These colorful and landlocked salmon run or spawn in several Utah streams in September and October after spending about four years maturing in downstream reservoirs. One of the most scenic kokanee runs takes place in Sheep Creek, which is a tributary to Flaming Gorge.”

DWR biologists will be at the site between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Display materials will be available that will help you see the kokanee and interpret their behavior. The biologists will also have a spotting scope available in case bighorn sheep visit the area, which they usually do during Kokanee Salmon Day.

Salmon in Utah

Utah’s salmon populations are a completely freshwater species known as kokanee salmon. They follow a lifecycle that’s similar to other salmon with one exception: instead of migrating from the Pacific Ocean to freshwater streams, kokanee reach freshwater streams by migrating to the streams from freshwater lakes and reservoirs.

While kokanee spawning runs are an excellent opportunity to discover Utah’s wildlife, please watch the salmon from the bank of Sheep Creek. As you approach the bank, move quietly to avoid disturbing the fish. Studies have documented that the kokanee are sensitive to disturbances on the bank.

Also, don’t wade in the stream. Wading in the stream can disrupt the spawning run, destroy the redds (egg nests) and cover the eggs with silt.

For more information, call the DWR’s Northeastern Region office at 435-781-9453.

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