Kokanee Salmon Run Up The Strawberry River
If you have never seen the Kokanee salmon spawn, you are definitely missing out. We took the kids up to Strawberry Reservoir early in September, for the beginning of the spawn. If you go to the Strawberry Reservoir visitor’s center, they have what they call “Discovery Trail”, which is a planked walkway that runs along the Strawberry River with several different overlook
When we first arrived we headed down the west side of the trail. All along the walk way we did not see any of the blazing red Kokanee. But if you continue you will end up at what they call a fish catch house. Of course we were treated with a great view of a large catch of the Kokanee there.
The rangers where catching the Kokanee, weighing, checking for spawn ready, and sorting them between the female and male fish. This was a huge treat for me; I have never seen any thing like that. The rangers were great to answer all of our questions, and show us the differences between male and female fish. They brought fish up to the rails to show us close up.
We learned that the Kokanee usually spawn when they are four, and that they, just like the pacific salmon die after they spawn. The rangers take the fish and milk them for their eggs, and sperm to help guarantee the survival of the species in Strawberry Reservoir. The rangers also gave us an example of how they check for spawn ready and pre-spawn. The catch house was quite crowded but every one was very courteous, and made room for the kids to get a front row seat for the activities. After we left the catch house we headed back to the visitor’s center where we crossed the road and went on the east side of the Discovery Trail. There was an overlook that hung out over the Strawberry River, and we were treated with a rare view of about a half dozen strong Kokanee headed up stream. They were great to watch, so determined.
Since our early September trip to Strawberry, we have been back in the area. We went the first week in October again, and we decided to stop and see the Kokanee. The ranger had told us on our last trip that they spawn better during stormy days. Since the last couple of days had been very rainy and over cast we thought we would check it out. Quite a difference a couple of weeks, and a storm or two made. The river was full of the blazing red fish. However the fish are in their final stage of spawn, in fact there were several that had already died lining the river bottom. Even though the fish didn’t have the determination of a couple of weeks ago, it was still a great experience, and one I am sure the kids will not forget soon. I know I won’t, and if we can we will try and make it up there again next year.