Nature is putting on a show as the brilliant red kokanee salmon are leaving Okanagan Lake to swim upstream in creeks and streams to spawn and then die.
Popular places for people to observe these fresh-water cousins of the sockeye salmon are Deep Creek near Peachland and Mission Creek in Kelowna.
Deep Creek in Hardy Falls Regional Park is typically the first place people can see the brilliant red kokanee salmon spawn.
The kokanee returned from Okanagan Lake on-time this year around Aug. 22.
While the return of the salmon to Mission Creek has resulted in a high bear count as the hungry animals feast on the salmon, Nicole Kittmer, a Regional Parks interpreter, said there weren’t reports of many bears attracted to Hardy Falls yet.
Despite the smoky skies, Kittmer was at Hardy Falls Regional Park near Peachland Sunday afternoon ready to answer questions about the kokanee salmon in Deep Creek this time of year.
People can follow the flat trail at Hardy Falls that leads to a picturesque waterfall and stop on the bridges to watch the salmon.
Kittmer said last year the number of kokanee returning from Okanagan Lake to spawn was the the highest in recent history; however, she didn’t have any statistics for this season. She noted the water temperature is perfect and water levels are good for spawning.
A few people braved the smoky conditions Sunday to see the salmon, including Cindy Edwards, her daughter, Karly, and granddaughter, Lola Grundle. The family recently moved to the Okanagan from Saskatchewan, so this was the first time they had seen salmon spawn.
“It was amazing,” said Karly.
Lola added her favourite part was watching the salmon slide off the rocks as they swam upstream.
Park interpreters will be at Hardy Falls as well as Mission Creek Regional Park Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to answer questions about the salmon until Oct. 4 at Hardy Falls and Oct. 11 at Mission Creek.
People can also learn more about the Kokanee salmon and its life cycle by registering for a free interpretive session at Hardy Falls or Mission Creek Regional Park Sept. 23 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. to noon. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, each program is limited to eight participants. No drop-ins.
For more information on this and other Regional Parks programs, go to the Regional District website at rdco.com/parksevents or contact the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan at 250-469-6140.