Bright Fish and Fall Foliage: Watch Kokanee Salmon & Hike around Sullivan Lake

Thousands of Kokanee salmon have started running up Harvey Creek, near Sullivan Lake in Northeast Washington. Huge schools of these bright red fish can be seen from the bridge or creek bank near the lake. The run typically lasts until the middle of December, but if you head up there over the next couple of weeks, you can also catch the fall colors changing around the lake and take a hike along the Lakeshore Trail or up towards Hall Mountain (both hikes start from the Noisy Creek Campground and day use area).

The salmon run is comprised of three-year-old sockeyes leaving Sullivan Lake and swimming up Harvey Creek to find suitable spawning sites. This intense and exciting event is important to the survival of the species, so take care not to disturb the fish or the streambed. 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 after spawning they die. Their decaying bodies provide nutrients to the creek and Sullivan Lake that are 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.


Getting There: To get to the south end of Sullivan Lake and the mouth of Harvey Creek, head north from Newport, Wash. to Highway 31 south of Ione and take County Road 9345 toward the Sullivan Lake Ranger Station and Sullivan Lake. The bridge is at the south end of the lake. For a Kokanee status report call the Sullivan Lake Ranger District at (509) 446-7500 or stop in for a brochure. Harvey Creek is closed to fishing from the mouth to the second county bridge (Bridge 4830), and open above the second county bridge from the first Saturday in June through October 31. For complete fishing regulations on the web, go to: //

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