Porcupine Reservoir is at its lowest level on record, but state fisheries biologists are still expecting the east fork of the Little Bear River to run red over the Labor Day weekend.
Any day now Porcupine's population of kokanee salmon is due to initiate one of nature's more visible wonders - the annual spawning run.Like their seagoing cousins, some of which travel thousands of miles to spawn, the landlocked kokanee in Porcupine will soon be swimming feverishly up the Little Bear's clear water to plant seeds for another generation.
Porcupine, in southeastern Cache County, is one of only two reservoirs in Utah with healthy populations of kokanee salmon. And on Tuesday at Flaming Gorge, about 100 spawning kokanee swam up Sheep Creek, a reservoir tributary south of Manila, said Tim Miles, supervisor of the division's Logan hatchery.
Miles is interested in the anticipated event at Porcupine because he'll be there to strip eggs and sperm from spawning fish. Fish traps were set last week, but so far, the water hasn't yet turned red with the brightly colored salmon.
Porcupine's kokanee are an important source for eggs because the fish harbor no diseases. Eggs from Porcupine's salmon, like those from Sheep Creek, are hauled to state fish hatcheries and subsequently used to stock other waters, particularly Strawberry Reservoir.
There, division fish managers hope, kokanee will become well established and provide a viable game fishery.
Each September mature kokanee salmon head upstream to spawn and die. And each year a number of curious onlookers also go streamside to check out the action.