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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Kokanee provide fall color near Sullivan Lake

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)

PUBLIC LANDS -- Sullivan Lake is a great option for getting out this weekend to enjoy fall colors -- on the forest and on the fish!

The Western larch needles are turning yellow and the crimson-colored kokanee are running from the lake into Harvey Creek where they are ripe for easy viewing.

Huge schools of these bright red beauties can be seen from the bridge or creek bank at the south end of the lake as the fish pair with mates for spawning. 

"This intense and exciting event is important to the survival of the species," says Franklin Pemberton of the Colville National Forest. Visitors are asked to avoid harassing the fish or disturbing the streambed.

The run typically lasts until the middle of December.

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, take County Road 9345 toward the Sullivan Lake Ranger Station and Sullivan Lake.  The bridge over Harvey Creek is at the south end of the lake. Harvey Creek is closed to fishing.

Info:  (509) 446-7500. 


Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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