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See Kokanee Salmon at Sheep Creek

See Kokanee Salmon at Sheep Creek

Kokanee Salmon Day is Sept. 17

Manila -- If you visit Sheep Creek to see kokanee salmon on Sept. 17, make sure you bring your binoculars or a spotting scope. You might see some bighorn sheep too!

Kokanee Salmon
Spawning Kokanee Salmon in a stream
Photo courtesy Ron Stewart, Utah DWR

On Sept. 17, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resource will hold its annual Kokanee Salmon Day. Viewing runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event is free, and the viewing site is easy to get to. Sheep Creek is in northeastern Utah, about six miles south of Manila. The viewing site is at the Scenic Byway turnout where Sheep Creek crosses under state Route 44.

UDWR 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. Spotting scopes will also be available in case bighorn sheep visit the area, which they usually do during Kokanee Salmon Day.

Fish have entered the stream

Kokanee are a land-locked relative of the salmon found in the Pacific Ocean. Rather than migrating upstream from the ocean, though, the Sheep Creek population migrates upstream from Flaming Gorge Reservoir to spawn in the stream.

Biologists say more than 100 salmon have already entered the stream this summer. “That’s a lot of fish for this early in the run,” says Ron Stewart, a conservation outreach manager with the UDWR. “We’re hoping for a big spawning run.”

See a wide variety of wildlife

Seeing bright red kokanee salmon make a trip to Sheep Creek more than worth it. But the salmon are often just one of many wildlife species you might see on Kokanee Salmon Day.

"Bring your camera and your binoculars," Stewart says. "At Sheep Creek, Kokanee Day often becomes ‘Wildlife Day’ as bighorn sheep and other wildlife species are frequently seen from the [viewing] site.”

If sheep appear, Stewart says you’ll be able to see them through spotting scopes UDWR biologists will train on the animals. Or the biologists can help you spot the sheep so you can see them through your own binoculars or spotting scope.

In addition to bighorn sheep, Stewart says other big mammals and a large variety of smaller mammals and birds often pay a visit. “Birds of prey, like golden eagles, kestrels, osprey and vultures, are frequent visitors," Stewart says. "And participants often hear sandhill cranes as they fly overhead.”

Stewart says driving along one of Utah's first National Scenic Byways -- with its spectacular scenery and 18 interpretive sites -- fall weather that’s usually pleasant, leaves that are changing color, lots of wildlife and a chance to see bright red kokanee salmon make Kokanee Salmon Day an event you won’t want to miss.

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