TAYLOR CREEK, Calif. (KOLO) - It’s an annual attraction that draws people from near and far. The Kokanee Salmon returned to Taylor Creek in Tahoe this year.
According to U.S. Forest Service the salmon returned a bit early at the end of September. The salmon usually makes the trek back to Taylor Creek early October.
Each year the Kokanee Salmon swim upstream from the lake to spawn. U.S. Forest Service Volunteer Rockey Fennema said the attraction draws in thousands of people a week. The salmon spawn at the creek for several weeks and lay their eggs.
Fennema said, “If you look at the fish the larger ones that have a big hump in their back and a hooked jaw are the male. The female are the smaller ones.”
The female usually dies 3 to 5 days after spawning, while the male dies 10 to 14 days later.
The eggs incubate until spring before making its way back to the lake. Fennema said, "And those that successfully make it to the lake will live their life span in the lake and when the spawning urge comes they will return to the waters that they were born in which is Taylor Creek, and their life span is usually 2 to 4 years in the lake.”
During this time of the season the salmon’s arrival attracts other animals too. “The bears come in will eat the fish. We have the funny looking ducks, the mergansers that will eat the live fish. The mallard ducks that we see will eat the eggs. We have crayfish that will eat on the carcasses of the fish, we have raccoons, we have coyotes, and we occasionally will have a bald eagle come in.”
Visitors were happy to see parts of Taylor Creek sparkle in red. Lake Tahoe resident Samantha May said, “I have actually never seen them move in the way they were moving today because there were ducks following them so it was cool seeing them swim in a swarm.”
Another Tahoe resident Jodie Guttrich said, “They’re stunning I have never seen fish like that before in my life. It is the first time that I have seen it and they are absolutely gorgeous."
Ken Linbrecht from San Jose said, “Well I was surprised to see there were so many of them, because the last couple of years there hasn't been any salmon and this year there was a lot."
If you do want to see the salmon, officials urge people to follow the rules like stay on the trail and keep food in your car. This is the time of year where bears also come out to eat the salmon too.
Fennema anticipates the salmon will spawn for a couple of weeks.
Copyright KOLO-TV 2019