Last modified: Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Strawberry Reservoir

Watchable wildlife programs

Strawberry Valley provides many watchable wildlife opportunities including some of the best aquatic wildlife viewing in the state. Spawning runs of cutthroat trout and kokanee salmon attract many visitors to the valley each year.

Cutthroat trout

The cutthroat trout spawning run typically begins in late May, and continues through the end of June. Spawners ascend nearly all of the major and minor tributaries, and even run many of the intermittent streams on good water years. The best viewing opportunities are provided in Trout Creek at the northern end of the reservoir and Indian Creek to the south. Spawning runs also develop in the Strawberry River, but turbid water conditions make it difficult to see the cutthroat spawners in the stream.

Strawberry spawning trap during kokanee run

Kokanee salmon

During mid-late August, adult kokanee salmon initiate a number of changes in body form and behavior in preparation for the upcoming spawning season. In both sexes the body color changes from silver to brilliant red and the head and tail develop a dark olive color. The males also develop an elongated, hooked jaw and pronounced humping of the back. Neither of the sexes actively feed during this period of change. Spawning migrations begin in early September, and continue through about October 10. Major runs occur in the Strawberry River, Trout Creek, and Indian Creek, all of which afford excellent viewing opportunities. As with other species of Pacific Salmon, kokanee complete the spawning act, and then both males and females die to prepare the way for a new generation.

The Forest Service and the Division of Wildlife Resources conduct an annual kokanee day activity at Strawberry Reservoir on the third Saturday of September. Personnel from both agencies are on hand at the Strawberry Visitor Center/Fish Trap Complex to provide information about kokanee salmon life history and biology. In addition, group tours of spawning and egg takes are provided by special appointment only. For more information on group tours contact the USFS Visitor Center at (435) 548-2321.

Viewing Precautions

Although spawning fish in Strawberry are tolerant of some visitor disturbance, viewers should reduce impacts by following the precautions listed below:

  • View fish from a distance; take care not to disturb the spawning adults.
  • Never grab fish or place your hands in the water.
  • Never walk through the riffles of stream, or disturb the trout nests (redds) in any way.
  • Avoid walking directly on stream banks to prevent damage to sensitive riparian vegetation. Also avoid establishing corridor trails, if possible.
  • Please don't disturb Division of Wildlife fish traps or research projects.
  • Make sure your pets are properly restrained.
  • If you observe any inappropriate activities or wildlife violations, call the UDWR Poaching Hotline at 1-800-662-DEER (3337).

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