Outdoors blog

FRIDAY, NOV. 9, 2012, 3:30 P.M.

Spawning kokanee create wildlife viewing spectacles

Kokanee are making a colorful splash in the region’s waters.   (File / The Spokesman-Review)
Kokanee are making a colorful splash in the region’s waters. (File / The Spokesman-Review)

WILDLIFE WATCHING -- Kokanee provide two notable spectacles in this region for anglers and nonanglers alike:

Bald eagles flock to the Wolf Lodge Bay area of Lake Coeur d'Alene to feast on spawned out kokanee starting this month and peaking around Christmas. The spectacle attracts thousands of visitors to the Higgens Point are and the Wolf Lodge exit off I-90.

Sullivan Lake kokanee are running up Harvey Creek to spawn, providing a notably accessible viewing point from the bridge area at the south end of the lake.

I'll have much more about the eagles as they begin their congregation.

Read on for more details about the Sullivan Lake viewing opportunity that started this week.


Thousands of Kokanee Salmon are running up Harvey Creek, near Sullivan Lake.  Huge schools of these bright red beauties can be seen from the bridge or creek bank.  This intense and exciting event is important to the survival of the species, so please avoid harassing the fish or disturbing the streambed.  The run typically lasts until the middle of December.

The Salmon Run is comprised of three-year-old Sockeye Salmon leaving Sullivan Lake and swimming up Harvey Creek to find suitable spawning sites.  From Harvey Creek’s banks or the bridge, the fish are visible as they separate from the schools and pair up with mates.  Females dig a redd (deposit site) to lay eggs and within a few days die.  Their decaying bodies provide nutrients to the creek and Sullivan Lake vital to the growth of plankton and insect life that will feed next year’s young.  The dying salmon also feed animals like bald eagles, raccoons, and mink.  Kokanee eggs hatch in February and remain in the gravel until spring where they are swept away into Sullivan Lake to start another cycle.

DIRECTIONS: Come from Highway 31 south of Ione and take County Road 9345 toward the Sullivan Lake Ranger Station and Sullivan Lake.  The bridge is at the south end of the lake.

Kokanee status report: Call the Sullivan Lake Ranger District at (509) 446-7500 or stop in for a brochure on the Kokanee. 

Harvey Creek is closed to fishing from the mouth to the second county bridge, and open above the second county bridge from June 1 through October 31.  For complete fishing regulations on the web, go to:http://wdfw.wa.gov/

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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