Uniquely Utah: Salmon colors shift during spawning season near Strawberry Reservoir

Posted at 9:50 PM, Sep 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-19 15:53:22-04

STRAWBERRY RESERVOIR, In Utah's mountains, leaves aren't the only things changing colors with the approach of fall.

A variety of salmon in Utah lakes are turning bright red, and Fox 13 News' Todd Tanner was at Strawberry Reservoir this week to take a look.

The reservoir was hosting their annual Kokanee Salmon Viewing Day, and the event drew more than 3,000 people, according to the Division of Wildlife Resources.

Scott Root of the Utah DWR said the spawning follows a pattern.

"They start coming up the stream to spawn in late August or early September, and the spawn will last up until about the first of October, and so it's not long after that most of these will die," Root said. "It's a very dramatic and kind of a sad life cycle, I'm glad it's not that way for us."

Mature Kokanee turn bright red when they are looking for love, and during the spawning season biologists intercept many of the fish to take measurements and tally up numbers. They also take steps to conserve the species.

"We'll try to get 2.6 million eggs this year," Root said. "And we'll raise those in the hatchery, where there's a 90 percent survival rate, whereas in the wild its only about a 10 percent survival rate."