WILDLIFE WATCHING — Spawning kokanee provide vivid autumn wildlife viewing opportunities at several classic sites in the Inland Northwest.
Edward Cairns employed his Go-Pro video camera on Monday and took advantage of the easy-access viewing at the south end of Sullivan Lake near Metaline Falls, Wash., where kokanee move out of the lake to spawn in Harvey Creek.
Thanks for sharing the footage (above), Edward.
This is a great place to bring kids for a wildlife viewing adventure, with excellent fall hiking opportunities all around, including the Sullivan Lake Shoreline Trail. This weekend should be prime time for seeing the most kokanee packed under the road bridge at the south end of the lake.
The run typically lasts until the middle of December.
The run of the land-locked sockeye salmon is comprised of three-year-old fish 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: From Highway 31 south of Ione, turn east on County Road 9345 toward the Sullivan Lake Ranger Station and Sullivan Lake. The bridge is at the south end of the lake.
Updates: Sullivan Lake Ranger District, (509) 446-7500 or stop in at the ranger station on the northwest end of the lake 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 the first Saturday in June through Oct. 31.
Click here for complete fishing regulations.