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Fall Fish Festival (formerly Kokanee Salmon Festival)

Family Fun at Lake Tahoe's Taylor Creek Visitor Center

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Visitors at the Taylor Creek Stream Profile Chamber during Lake Tahoe's Fall Fish Festival.

Photo © Stan White

Update: Due to the federal government shutdown, the 2013 Fall Fish Festival has been canceled. Be sure to thank your representatives in Congress for making this possible.

About the Fall Fish Festival at Taylor Creek Visitor Center

Note: The Kokanee Salmon Festival has changed its name to Fall Fish Festival. According to the Forest Service at Lake Tahoe, "the Fall Fish Festival will focus on the variety of fish species that live in Lake Tahoe and its rivers. In addition to the Kokanee, these species include the federally threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout and little-known smaller fish, such as speckled dace."

The Fall Fish Festival is an annual event usually held during the first weekend in October. The 2013 Festival is Saturday and Sunday, October 5 and 6. Both days of this free family event at Lake Tahoe's Taylor Creek Visitor Center are full of activities to help you learn about the Lake Tahoe environment and have fun doing it. Lulu the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout and Sandy and Rocky Salmon will be there to greet the kids. You'll be able to learn about Taylor Creek from naturalists, visit informational booths, walk along the creek to observe the salmon, and visit the Stream Profile Chamber to see the underwater environment of Taylor Creek, watch the salmon migration, and observe other fish. Here are some of the activities that will be going on...

  • Rainbow Trail half-mile loop to view spawning Kokanee salmon in Taylor Creek.
  • Stream Profile Chamber on the Rainbow Trail - underwater view of salmon and other fish in Taylor Creek.
  • A giant inflatable Lahontan cutthroat trout with activities for kids, sponsored by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Fish painting and a treasure hunt specifically for children.
  • Food, drink, ice cream, and informational booths from various organizations and agencies.
  • Kokanee Trail Runs - canceled for 2013 (see below).
  • Salmon Feed fundraiser for Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care.

Kokanee Trail Runs - According to the Tahoe Mountain Milers, the Kokanee Trail Runs for 2013 have been canceled due to Forest Service thinning operations in the course area and resulting safety concerns for the runners. Plans call for the Kokanee Salmon Runs to return in 2014.

Getting to the Fall Fish Festival

The Taylor Creek Visitor Center is three miles north of the town of South Lake Tahoe on Hwy. 89 (locally known as Emerald Bay Road). It is a right turn (toward the lake), just past the Tallac Historic Site turnoff. There is a big parking lot, but it frequently fills up on busy weekends. For more information, call the Taylor Creek Visitor Center at (530) 543-2674.

Fall Fish Festival is the same weekend as Oktoberfest at nearby Camp Richardson Resort. This is a popular event as well, so expect the area to be congested. There is some free parking at Camp Richardson, making it possible to walk or bike between the two events. There is also public transportation available from South Lake Tahoe, which would eliminate the parking hassle.

About Kokanee Salmon

Kokanee salmon were introduced to Lake Tahoe in 1944. Like Sockeye salmon, their ocean-going relatives, these fish return to their stream of origin to mate, spawn, and die. In the case of Lake Tahoe's landlocked Kokanee, that stream is Taylor Creek. In preparation for their spawning run, Kokanee salmon turn bright red. I've seen this display and it's quite amazing to see the creek crowded with the colorful fish, oblivious to the human observers as they vigorously compete to successfully spawn and complete their life cycle.

Bears and Kokanee Salmon in Taylor Creek

Bears at Lake Tahoe are attracted to the Kokanee salmon spawning in Taylor Creek. Visitors may see bears in the vicinity and are urged to follow these rules to keep things safe for both people and wildlife...

  • Do not approach bears.
  • Keep a safe distance from bears.
  • Do not feed bears.
  • Secure food and garbage.
  • While visiting Taylor Creek, stay on the trail and do not run if you see a bear.

Black bears are native to the Lake Tahoe Basin. Learn more about these creatures and co-existing safely while on their home turf with "Guidelines for Living In and Visiting Bear Habitat" from the U.S. Forest Service, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.

Source: U.S. Forest Service, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.

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