Taylor Creek’s Annual Kokanee Salmon Run Halted by Drought

Photo: Jonathan Cook-Fisher

One of the most delightful fall activities in the Tahoe region is watching the Kokanee salmon return to Taylor Creek for their annual spawn. This year, the drought has dried up the creek, halting any of the salmon from traversing their way to the natural spawning habitat. It’s another negative impact of the historic drought in Northern California.

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 low water due to the ongoing drought in Northern California, the salmon won’t be able to return to the creek. Instead, they’ll find other creeks to spawn this year and return to Taylor Creek in the future. Due to this development, the Fall Fish Festival has been cancelled, although people can still visit the Taylor Creek Visitor Center for information on the salmon runs.

Photo: Rose Davies

While us humans are certainly disappointed that we won’t be able to see the salmon, the bears are certainly more upset. Each year, the many bears of the Tahoe Basin flock to Taylor Creek to get a mighty feast of the Kokanee. The benefits of this feeding are felt throughout the local ecosystem. The eaten salmon carcasses bring nutrients to the water, allowing the many species of bugs and fish to flourish. It also enables the bears to enjoy a hearty, natural meal instead of searching for human food inside homes and cars.

The impact of the drought is being felt especially hard this fall. Start rain dancing, NorCal.

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