The drought had an enormous impact on wildlife throughout Northern California this year, with depleting water resources and raging wildfires impacting the wilderness they call home. The Kokanee salmon of Lake Tahoe may have had the most difficulty with the drought as their historical spawning ground of Taylor Creek became completely dried up in the waning weeks of October.
Now, with a few early-season storms bringing precipitation to the region, the salmon are once again able to travel to their natural spawning habitat.
The landlocked Kokanee salmon return to Taylor Creek each fall, typically in October, to spawn. These magnificent looking fish look straight out of a fall catalog, due to their bright red hue. The salmon were introduced to Lake Tahoe by biologists in 1944 and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit has created a unique educational program to view the Kokanee Salmon in their natural habitat at Taylor Creek.
With snow and rain once again filling up Taylor Creek, the bright-red salmon were once again seen on Taylor Creek, giving a lifeline to the struggling salmon.
When the water was low in late-October, local fishing guide JD Richey captured a video of the salmon attempting to reach the creek and getting stuck on the sand. It allowed for predators to easily grab the fish when they got stuck out of the water:
Here are some of our favorite photos of the return of the Kokanee to Taylor Creek: